Senator Abe may not have been named the chairman of the new NNPC Board announced by the President, but his appointment as a member is attracting serious reactions, especially in his home State where many in the All Progressives Congress hold him accountable for the party’s inability to field candidates in the 2019 general elections.
News of Abe’s appointment as a member of the board broke at the weekend.
A statement credited to Femi Adesina, a Presidential Spokesman said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the reconstitution of the Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), after the expiration of the term of the Board of members appointed in 2016.”
“Members of the new Board are Mohammed Lawal(North West), Tajudeen Umar (North East), Adamu Mahmood Attah (North Central), Senator Magnus Abe (South South), Dr Stephen Dike (South East), and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South West).
“The new board will be in place for three years”, the statement added.
Curiously, the statement did not disclose who would serve as the chairman of the board.
It may be that the Federal Government might be avoiding creating room for controversy even before the board members are sworn in.
Among Abe supporters in the State as well as his backers inside the APC family, it was cheering news.
Their idol and foot soldier who was in the running for a ministerial appointment at the beginning of the second tenure of the President had been remembered by the Federal Government.
Abe who is believed to share close ties with the Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike has been linked with Ahmed Tinubu’s political machine.
Tinubu is lurked in a cold war with Rotimi Amaechi whom he suspects might be an obstacle to his ambition to be a president of the country.
His effort, using high level contacts within the Presidency in 2019 to project Abe as a minister crumbled at the last moment.
There is no evidence, at least in the open, that Amaechi had a hand in the failure of Abe’s bid to serve on the federal Executive Council.
Not surprisingly, the announcement of Abe’s membership drew the ire of some APC leaders across the country, with some saying his elevation to the board is part of the unpredictable power game that the ruling party has come to be known for.
Said a bitter APC leader who belongs to the non indigenous wing of the party in Rivers State, “Why will the President do something like this? How can a man who made it impossible for us to have candidates in the last election be rewarded with such an appointment?
“This means that there have been people at the national level who have been used to willfully destabilize the APC in Rivers State because of their hatred for Amaechi.”
But there exists another school of thought who think that the offer of appointment to Senator Abe may be dictated by an effort at the national level to make the peace within the Rivers APC.
The Rivers APC is without a legitimate executive committee while a fierce battle is being waged in the court of law, where some members of the party contrary to the constitution of the party have encamped.
On his part, Abe has been speaking increasingly about the need to make the peace within the party.
Many within and outside the Rivers APC hope that the move by the Presidency to appoint the former senator as a member of a “Grade A” board may well pave the way for genuine reconciliation.
President Buhari had lauded Amaechi for his willingness to make sacrifices in the interest of the general good in the message he sent on the occasion of the latter’s birthday.
Could it be that the President was alluding to this fact when he delivered his message?
Nobody can tell, but the ball appears to be in Abe’s court to use his recognition for the betterment and unity of the Rivers APC.
Will Abe do it? Will those with whom he has fought give a helping hand in ensuring that peace returns?
Only time will tell.