Tam David-West, former minister of petroleum, says Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, does not have a portfolio.
In an interview with PUNCH, the elder statesman attacked the minister over a petition he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Media Reporters reported that the letter was leaked to the media before it was dispatched to the president.
Kachikwu had accused Maikanti Baru, group managing director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), of insubordination.
He also alleged that Baru of awarding contracts to the tune of $25 billion without consulting the corporation board, but the GMD maintained that he acted in order.
David-West supported Baru’s position and accused Kachikwu of embarrassing the country.
“Actually, Buhari should be the chairman of the NNPC board and not Kachikwu, who is a minister without a portfolio in reality. It would be better if we scrapped the ‘minister of state’ which is superfluous and redundant,” he said.
“When you say that a minister of state is the boss of the GMD of NNPC, it is wrong. That cannot be. People are making those claims because of misconception. The minister of state in the first republic was a minister without a portfolio. He cannot be a boss of the GMD of an oil industry, who is the livewire of that sector.”
David-West, who disclosed that he had vowed not to comment on NNPC again, said was angry when he read Kachikwu’s petition.
“When I first read it (the petition) in the newspaper, I was flabbergasted. It is out of the question completely. I have said I will never comment on NNPC, but it would be irresponsible of me to keep quiet,” he said.
“It is dangerous. Despite the fact that I am no longer the oil minister, I know what is happening in the oil industry every day. I am still in touch with the system in Nigeria and even the North Sea Oil, Brent, I get the price every day.
“I am interested in the oil industry just like any other Nigerian, for obvious reasons. Oil accounts for 80 percent of the Nigerian budget and 90 per cent of its assets outside. The money we have outside and foreign reserves are mainly from oil. As someone from an oil-producing state, I am interested in what goes on in the industry. Thirdly, I have been there before and I know what is happening there.
“I don’t know the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, or the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Maikanti Baru, but what is going on is very embarrassing to Nigeria. This has never happened before.
“Each time I read the newspapers about this issue, I am upset. An editor called me and asked me, ‘What is the duty of a minister of state?’ Some of these problems are caused by personality problems. Some of them have both bloated and ballooned egos. No one is indispensable in Nigeria because for every Nigerian holding a position, there are many others who are better qualified. No public servant can threaten the country. Nigeria is bigger than anyone, so whoever is in a top position should thank God and the country for the opportunity to serve. One million Tam David-Wests cannot threaten Nigeria.”
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