As Petroleum Minister, President Muhammadu Buhari should be out there on the streets in overalls, boots and helmets; assuring Nigerians that the queues at gas stations will soon disappear, engaging folks on the queues directly, explaining what steps are being taken to plug the supply gap and keeping everyone in the downstream sector on their toes.
It's the job he signed up for.
Instead, the nation’s president has gone characteristically quiet as Nigerians groan and sweat it out at gas stations during what should be a festive season for everyone.
This round of petrol scarcity began in the first week of December. Save for NNPC’s “panic buying” drivel and Lai Mohammed’s “winter” baloney, there’s been no statement in anger; or commitment to killing these queues once and for all, from the presidency.
There may well be countless reasons why the queues have made a return. The petroleum sector is still as corrupt as they come with everyone in the oil value chain just waiting for the perfect opportunity to game the system. There’s also every possibility that petrol is being hoarded by greedy marketers intent on forcing the government to hike pump price of the product.
But these are the reasons why Buhari was elected president and these are some of the problems he swore to eliminate on the campaign trail. Fixing the corruption in the petroleum sector was precisely why Buhari retained the portfolio of petroleum minister for himself.
For each day that the queues refuse to disappear from gas stations, the president fails at his job. He is the supervising minister here and Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops on his desk and not on the desks of PENGASSAN, independent marketers or the NNPC. This is the president’s job on the line here. He must own the problem. And he must be seen to be owning the problem.
The man who wears the cap of petroleum minister has to do more than asking NNPC or government talking heads to speak on his behalf regarding these annoying petrol queues that have long paralysed the economy. He should be front and center on the crisis.
Anything less will amount to a dereliction of duty.