A coalition of leaders from nine states of the Niger Delta on Wednesday criticised ongoing smear campaign targeted at Dr Ibe Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
The leaders, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa, said that unwarranted attacks to tarnish the image of Kachikwu were unacceptable.
A Niger Delta activist, Prince Tonye Jemenimiema, said that frivolous allegations of operating a foreign account while holding a public office was laughable and mischievous.
He said that Kachikwu had a fruitful career in the international oil sector spanning several decades and worked in many countries before he rose to become a Vice President at Exxonmobil before his appointment.
Jemenimiema who is also President Niger Delta Youth for Practical Development noted that the attempt by certain interest groups to discredit Kachikwu who is performing creditably in the oil and gas sector was regrettable.
The youth leader said it was an irony that Kachikwu, who midwifed reforms in the downstream sector of the oil industry and brokered peace in Niger Delta that stabilised oil production, could be targeted by critics.
He said that the region would not condone further attacks on the Minister whose laudable polices had translated to transparency in the oil sector adding that those affected by Kachikwu’s reforms were behind the attacks.
“It is interesting that the cabal is out again, masquerading in another disguise with bogus allegations to demonise the gentle, God fearing and upright personality in the face of the public.
“This is a man who brought transparency and orderliness to the system. One may ask what is the reputation of the faceless group behind these spurious allegations and campaign of calumny.
“What have they contributed towards the advancement of the country?
“We trust that the frivolous litigation will fall like a pack of cards and the judiciary will not sacrifice the innocent for the wicked.
“We are very worried and concerned over the safety of our brother; who knows if such evil collaborators may resort to going after his life.
“We know Kachikwu is innocent and must not bow to any pressure to bend him,” Jemenimiema said.
Also Pastor Tiedor Olayinka, President, Niger Delta Youths Coalition for Peace and Progress, berated those who felt envious and intimidated by Kachikwu’s verifiable records.
“Those affected by the reforms carried out under Kachikwu are the ones operating behind the scene to cause Kachikwu’s downfall.
“The steady attacks on Kachikwu’s hard earned reputation is one too many. They say when you want to kill a dog you hang him a bad name. Who is desperate to take Kachikwu’s office?
“Who is offended by his giant strides as reforming the sector and bringing sanity to the once ailing industry?
“It is evident that result achieved by the current administration is traceable to Kachikwu.
“If it is not degree classification it is now baseless and unfounded allegations asking a man who rose up to the rank of Vice President of a multinational oil firm why he is operating foreign account.
“These have to stop,” Olayinka said.
He urged the public to be wary of groups whose stock in trade was to spread malicious false allegations against public office holders to blackmail them to succumb to their demands for gratification.
He urged the federal government to scrutinise those making allegations merely to attract attention and sanction them if investigation showed that such allegations were false.