Niger Delta Ex-Agitators Forum (NDEF) on Sunday condemned ongoing smear campaign targeted at Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
Prince Amaibi Hornby President of NDEF said in Yenagoa, that the frivolous allegations made against Kachikwu were false and baseless.
He said that rather than applaud the results achieved by policies introduced by the minister, those who were aggrieved by Kachikwu’s policy of probity and transparency in the oil sector resorted to blackmail to discredit him.
He warned various groups engaged in unwarranted attacks to tarnish the image of Kachikwu to desist from the act as it was unacceptable to the Niger Delta region.
Hornby said that recent threat by one of the groups engaged in the smear campaign to embark on a protest to ground operations of the Petroleum Resources Ministry over Kachikwu’s degree classification was provocative.
He told the groups to leave Kachikwu alone as no amount of distraction would blackmail him to succumb to the intimidation, adding that the NDEF would no longer tolerate further attacks on Kachikwu.
“We are very concerned that a man who has been exemplary has been exposed to attacks by those who feel aggrieved by his policies that have made the once opaque industry transparent.
“Before now, nobody knows the volume of oil and gas produced daily by the country but under Kachikwu’s leadership, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources publishes oil output data every month since he took over.
“These faceless groups should be warned and not take the Niger Delta region for granted, Kachikwu has responded and debunked the lies bandied about his degree classification.
“He issued a statement to say that he never claimed to have a first class degree in Law from University of Nigeria, his profile is in public domain, those after him should have a rethink.
“We do not want to go back to the dark days and nobody should provoke us because everyone realized those youths of the region has the capacity to disrupt oil production, it took Kachikwu’s intervention to normalize things,” Hornby said.
Also Mr Salvation Rufus, Leader of 2nd Phase Ex-Militants group said that allegations of operating a foreign account for an expatriate in the oil sector like Kachikwu makes no sense.
He noted that Kachikwu was key to creating the existing peace in the region during the fact finding tour of the Vice President to the Niger Delta region and any breach of the peace would have adverse consequences..
He observed that those seeking to discredit Kachikwu were doing so to distract him from actualizing the promises made by the federal government to fast track development of the region.
He said that the region would not condone further attacks on the Minister adding that any further attack on Kachikwu will be resisted by Niger Delta region.
“The region is being provoked having been waiting patiently for the actualization of the pledge to use modular refineries to drive development, the relocation of International oil firms to Niger Delta amongst other promises.
“The Minister of State remains a shining example in Buhari’s cabinet. A worthy Ambassador of the region. To these faceless groups behind these spurious allegations and campaign of calumny, the time to stop is now.