Dr Ibe Kachikwu
From Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, early this week, finally bowed to pressures from his northern kinsmen when he removed Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Monday.
Kachikwu was replaced by Dr. Maikanti Kachalla Baru, a former Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production. This came after various interest groups from the northern part of the country were alleged to have complained bitterly to the President over the retention of Kachikwu as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC.
The groups had mounted intense pressure asking the President to remove Kachikwu as NNPC boss and appoint one of their own. They were actually definite about the consideration of Baru who was incidentally appointed as the Group Executive Director in charge of Exploration and Production by Kachikwu during his early major shake-up at the NNPC to be appointed as GMD.
A few months ago, reports went viral on the social media on Kachikwu’s ouster and Baru as his replacement but they turned out to be false. But Baru’s appointment has finally ended all speculation and tension the persistent rumours at the NNPC Tower in Abuja had caused.
Tasks ahead: Can Baru calm restive Niger Delta militants?
His appointment coming at a most critical and challenging period in the nation’s oil and gas industry, the question begging for answer now is whether he will be able to surmount the task of leading negotiations to calm restive militants in the Niger Delta, who have renewed hostilities in the oil-rich region in a wave of attacks on oil industry installations.
Kachikwu, who for eight months doubled as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources will now serve as the Chairman of the NNPC board. He had led a Federal Government team last month to negotiate a peace deal with the militants.
His tenure in dual capacity as the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and GMD of NNPC no doubt witnessed daunting challenges.
First, he had grappled all along with persistent fuel crises that sustained long queues at fuel stations across the country for several months. His efforts to end long fuel queues had pitched him against many marketers who felt he had cut off their fraudulent sources of making money through unjustifiable means at the detriment of Nigerians.
On many occasions, he attempted to remove of fuel subsidy but was confronted with stiff resistance from marketers as other beneficiaries of the regime. He fought on until with the support of the President and Minister of Petroleum Resources, Muhammadu Buhari, fuel subsidy was removed in May 2016.
Then, the sustained attacks on oil and gas facilities by different militant groups in the Niger Delta region was one of the most daunting challenges he had strived to deal with. The Sun