We will go straight to the point.
That Dr. Ibe Kachikwu was sacked as Group Managing Director of NNPC two days ago is not news.
That President Buhari appointed Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, a former Group Executive Director of Exploration and Production in NNPC is also not news.
But here is where the news begins:
President Buhari appointed a nine member board to run the affairs of NNPC. Six of those members are from Northern Nigeria. The remaining three hail from South-West, South-South and South East.
Niger Deltans already feel that crude located in their domain are majorly owned by Northerners.
Here is the question: Will this new composition allay or flair up tensions in the Niger Delta?
We believe that later is the likely scenario. Immediately Kachikwu was removed, Avengers blew up more oil installations in the region.
Here is another question: Can Baru persuade Niger Delta militants to both disarm and disband? Can the Buhari led administration prove to Niger Deltans that they are not taken for granted?
Kachikwu had led a federal government team last month to negotiate a peace deal with the militants.
Niger Deltans believes that one of the reasons Buhari fired Kachikwu was his supposed support for the Maritime University.
Again, Buhari sent Kachikwu to China to seek a $50 billion oil deal. Kachikwu came back with $100 billion deal! Could his growing influence be the result of his axing?
Kachikwu’s removal at a very sensitive period as this could raise concerns that the Buhari led administration is actually not listening to what they have been saying.
One of the appointees is Mallam Abba Kyari. Kyari is President Buhari’s chief of staff. This is the first time the chief of staff to the president of Nigeria sits as a member of board of a federal parastatal or agency.
By political hierarchy, the Chief of Staff to the president is above and more powerful than the minister.
So, Abba Kyari becomes the de facto Chairman of the NNPC Board and the de facto representative of the Minister of Petroleum cum President of the federation.
One of Buhari’s charge to the newly created board is in the “managing this critical national asset (crude oil)”.
Niger Delta Avengers seem to target oil installations belonging to Chevron oil wells 7 and 8 and three trunk lines belonging to NNPC.
Attacks this year had helped to cut Nigeria’s monthly oil output to about 1.4 million barrels a day in May, the lowest in almost three decades, according to the IEA.
Can Baru stall these happenings? What Kachikwu’s replacement a political mistake by President Muhammadu Buhari? Only time will answer these questions.
But we predict, restiveness in the Oil Rich Niger Delta will increase.