The Great Miscalculation

By Usman Mohammed

On a day the greatest intelligence coup in Nigerian history has taken place, it is sad that the worst fuel crisis in recent times has over shadowed this coup. In a dawn raid the Department of State Security backed by Nigerian Commandos swooped on an Ansaru terror cell plotting an audacious attack on the nation's capital.

This cell led by Khalid al- Barnawi, the dreaded leader of Ansaru, a terror group that broke away from Boko Haram who aligned itself with Deeds while Ansaru joined the rival terrorist enterprise of Al-Queda, was plotting a Mumbai-Paris styled attack on Sheraton and Hilton Hotels in Abuja from their forward operating base in Lokoja, Kogi State.

Their aim was to strike deep in the nation's capital to kill as many foreigners as possible along with high profile Nigerians. Indeed Al-Queda linked organizations have. carried out similar attacks in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Mali. Nigeria was set to be the next soft target to be hit by demented AlQueda linked terrorists. However utilizing the latest ELINT tech obtained from the Americans who had placed a huge bounty of $5 Million on the head of Al-Barnawi, the DSS intercepted his encrypted messages to his fire team of Suicide Bombers based in Lokoja.

And unknowingly when Al-Barnawi made his final journey from his top secret base in Michika to give blessings and coordinate the final onslaught the DSS were tracking his every move using HUMMINT and ELINT assets. And just before the fire team went dark with the final go to zero hour just minutes away, the DSS broke into their supposed top secret lair and captured Al-Barnawi and his lieutenants alive before they could strap on their suicide vests. The treasure trove of intelligence gleaned from the Lokoja HQ is akin to a goldmine and will lead to the total destruction of Ansaru.

This Boko Haram offshoot has been totally decapitated and their reign of terror has come to an abrupt end. Shekau indeed must be laughing in his foxhole for he has seen the wisdom to hide and be alive is far more intelligent than Al-Barnawi's thirst to undermine the Nigerian State which has got him caught like a rabbit in a trap. Indeed Al-Barnawi miscalculated and he is now singing like a canary in DSS underground gulag in Abuja. Thus the greatest intelligence coup in recent times goes by unnoticed due the miscalculations of Ibe Kachikwu the erstwhile oil czar. As the fuel scarcity bites harder it is obvious Kachikwu the magician, won't meet his 7th April deadline. His bad advice and verbose language has led Nigeria down a road that looks hopeless and bleak.

What are the miscalculations of Kachikwu?. For one he boasted that NNPC had the capacity to meet the fuel needs of the nation hence shutting out the all powerful marketers. Indeed as the fuel queues grew longer his claims have fallen flat as the NNPC lacks both the facilities and logistical support to effect the 70% quota he ascribed to them.

Then he said he will unbundle NNPC without any consultations or roadmap to explain the unbundling process. And as usual this sparked another round of unrest and disquiet in the oil sector. It took another back flip for him to douse the tension and frayed nerves. Next came the magical statement that he is not a magician and that building strategic reserves is more important than ending the long fuel queues. This created panic in an already volatile market. Panic buying and total chaos made the miscalculating Kachikwu to back track once again.

Then the height of deceit was his appearance before the senate to boast he will end fuel queues by 7th April and that they have saved Two Trillion from abolishing the subsidy regime. Two days later another back flip as the Subsidy regime has been reinstituted as NNPC relinquished its stranglehold on fuel imports as its inefficiency and dereliction of duty has made the ruling party appear incoherent and uncoordinated.

Now the marketers have been given the reigns to continue along the old order leaving many wondering where is the change? Many Nigerians will chose temporary hardship over the ills of funding a corrupt cabal. Why put Nigerians through such hardship when you knew you were going to blink first? Indeed this is a big lesson to the regime at the centre on how not to rule.

I know their contingency plan is the Dangote Refinery which will eventually end the shameful fuel importation regime however what to do until 2018 when the first litre of black gold is refined is the mystery. Only two choices exist. Nationalize all oil facilities and expect a huge backlash from labour spurred on by the cabal of marketers or return to the old subsidy regime. And the regime has blinked first with the latter choice appealing more to their mein. The fuel crisis will taper off over the next 3 to 6 weeks as the importers put on their game face, obtain forex then back slap each other as they rejoice that they are back in business.

Kachikwu needs to do some serious soul searching. Buhari is a general and has shown his might on the battlefield. Kachikwu is the oil man but he has not shown much insight as he stumbles along in the task placed before him. Indeed he needs to clean his glasses so that he can see clearly the true picture of what lies before him lest he will fail. Firstly he should stop rocking the boat. Reduce his press interviews and policy summersaults.

Let his actions speak for him. Next he must work with the marketers. Till he has a better alternative he must learn to dine with the devil with a long spoon. Next he must use this next three months of respite to build NNPC's capacity and curb inefficiency in a jaded institution. Mass sackings are in order to get NNPC into shape to be a mean efficient machine. And once the capacity is there he can slowly extract himself from the table. But as it stands Kachikwu seriously needs to put his act together.

Meanwhile Buhari needs to closely monitor and end his laissez-faire leadership style, it is time to sit with Kachikwu and iron out a clear path to sustainable fuel supply so as to end the Topsy-Turvy approach of trial and error adopted by Kachikwu. Hopefully this will be the last miscalculation in a string of misdeeds. Give Nigerians fuel at an affordable rate so that peace may reign.

Usman Mohammed.
Department of Mass Communication,
IBB University, Lapai-Niger State. 07060815443

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