Kayode Fayemi, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, has been accused of executing a policy designed to marginalize Northerners in the ministry for the sole benefit of the Southwest geo-political zone.
The accusation was contained in a public petition addressed to President Muhammad Buhari.
Signed by Joshua Yilnung and Halidu Gimba, the petition called on the President to stop the minister's undisguised nepotism and sectionalism in the ministry before they cause greater disharmony.
According to the petitioners, Dr. Fayemi, in concert with ethnic affiliates in the ministry, is working on a plot to implicate Directors-General of Northern extraction in the ministry. The aim of the plot, explained the petitioners, is to create vacancies in their positions to be filled by people from the southwest, where the minister hails from.
"Indeed Nigerians of other extractions do not find favor in the Ministry of Mines and Steel other than southwesterners," alleged the petition. a
Specifically targeted, the petitioners claimed are four Directors-General (DGs) of parastatals of the Ministry. These parastatals are National Metallurgical Development Centre, Jos; National Institute of Mines and Geo-Science, Jos; National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Kaduna; and Solid Minerals Development Fund, Abuja.
The petitioners accused the minister of masterminding the crises in each of the parastatals in furtherance of his goal of replacing them with southwesterners. For example, alleged the petition, the D-G of the Jos-based National Metallurgical Development Centre has been battling with crisis at the center. The crisis is alleged to have been instigated by Dr. Fayemi, who was said to have pushed some staff to write a petition containing 17 workers' union issues against the DG, who was not even served the petition.
However, only three of the issues were related to the union, while the others were "frivolous" and were meant to be used by Dr. Fayemi to remove the DG and replace him with a Yoruba man.
"Facts available to us later revealed that the petitions and pressure by the union against the leadership of the DG was an orchestration by the minister and his cronies. "Notwithstanding the clear resolution of the issues, the DG, who is long overdue for confirmation, is being held on the line, while the minister is on a voyage of giving a dog a bad name in order to kill it," said the Northerners' petition.
It further alleged that a professor of Yoruba extraction is being lined up to replace the DG. The said professor, it was equally claimed, had told staff of the centre that it is the time of the southwest to run the show in the ministry. The next in line to the DG, said the Northerners, is also a Yoruba man.
The DG of Solid Minerals Development Fund is also said to have functioned in acting capacity for a long time, with Fayemi refusing to confirm her despite being competent. The other DGs are said to also have petitions against them, which were provoked by Dr. Fayemi, who is said to be harassing them with security agencies.
"The management crises, sectionalism and nepotism are detailing the ministry from its core objectives and making a mockery of the anti-corruption fight by the present administration and are injurious to the country's unity and national cohesion," the petitioners argued.