Buhari is failing his first test as Oil Minister #FuelScarcity

Buhari’s appointment of himself as petroleum minister last month was greeted with mixed reactions, with people debating whether he would be able to separate the office of the president from the office of the petroleum minister. So far, it looks like he has not been able to. Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, has been suffering a fuel scarcity for up to a week now. Long queues have been sighted at petrol stations around the country, with some of them selling above the benchmark price of 87 Naira. Nigerians have come out to show their concerns, with questions like “Where is the president in this time of crisis?”, “Where is the petroleum minister?”

The fuel scarcity has caused not a few rumblings, with the Nigerian Labour Congress threatening a strike action if it continues. President Buhari and the Minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachikwu both left the country together on Saturday to attend the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Iran, and came back on Tuesday 24th November. Nigerians however got angry on social media, with a #FuelScarcity trending on twitter on Tuesday and on Wednesday. They were angry at why both petroleum ministers traveled out of the country in the middle of a crisis, and none of the two were available to comment on why there is a fuel scarcity. Instead, Nigerians had to rely on information gotten from NNPC’s official twitter account.

By Tuesday evening, different theories for the scarcity were making the rounds. Some say it is happening because the oil marketers have not been paid their subsidies, which is pending approval from the senate. Others say oil marketers are hoarding oil intentionally so as to encourage fuel hike, to make up for their losses in the past few months since oil price went down globally. However, whatever could be the cause of the scarcity; NNPC’s solution has been to give freely the fuel of petrol stations caught hoarding petroleum products. It seems not to be working because people are still complaining of fuel scarcity.

With Buhari traveling to Malta today (Paris after that), and APC senators playing childish games in the Senate, it appears the decision to make himself petroleum minister is not in the best interest of Nigerians. He has responsibilities as President, therefore his role as petroleum minister is causing friction with the presidential post. While some may argue that Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of state for petroleum and General Manager of NNPC can always represent him in matters like this, the internal wrangling in the NNPC is enough for Kachikwu to deal with, without adding the problem of the nation. Once again, President Buhari needs to think like a president and act like a petroleum minister, because he is failing his first test as minister.

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