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Nigeria Without The Oil
By: Olaniyi Olayinka Esq.•  
 Published  June 26th, 2012

Nigeria is rich in crude oil through which it remains a key player in the international oil industry since it joined the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1971. Between that time and now, successive governments have drawn farther from agriculture which used to be the main stay of the Nigeria’s economy. Malaysia which used to be a peer in the promotion of agriculture, particularly in palm oil, never relented. It produces grease and more with which it makes a fortune. Palm trees have since been tapped to death in Nigeria, no thanks to preference of immediate consumption of palm wine to a life sustaining palm oil.

The Minister of Finance, Dr (Mrs) Okonjo Iweala confirmed of recent that the Nigerian oil generation is dropping by 17 per cent. One can then ask if God the Creator of heaven and earth of which Nigerian crude oil is included is not angry with Nigerian leadership. God will not condone a violation of His commandments. He has prescribed that man shall eat from the sweat of his labour. Now that there is little or no input of Nigerian nation in the generation of oil rent, God is angry. Calls are made regularly that it is not ideal for a country of Nigeria’s status to be a mono economy. The problem however with emerging leadership from the Second Republic is that of having to leave an established footpath to create a new one, even if the original path is tortuous and longer.

What looks to be gloomy however is that none of the over 50 opposition parties appears to see anything wrong with the present economic structure. No thanks to the fact that political parties win elections now, not on the basis of having any developmental manifesto, as it was up till the end of Second Republic. No party submits any manifesto wherein it can be assessed at the end of tenure. Yet, not up to a year into a regime, scheming would be on, full scale for a second term, notwithstanding that it is going to be a journey to nowhere.

Should it be a blessing or a curse for the country if the oil dries up completely? The United States of America which is a major market for Nigeria’s crude oil also has its oil reserve which it keeps for the future. China also has oil reserve but decides to keep it. Why will successive leadership of the country discountenance with all future plans? The situation presently is one of living from hand to mouth. The oil is the shield that beclouds the sense of determination of how sick the Nigeria is. It is the de facto hold on the federation, as presently constituted.  The oil revenue is so enormous and appears sustainable, so much so that a former Head of State was quoted as saying; “money is not the problem of Nigeria, but how to spend it”. Remove the oil, stakeholders shall address the issue of healing the ills of Nigeria, as a matter of urgency.

Oil as national sustaining factor has also led to the creation of parasitic states to feed from the national cake. They are not structured to be industrious or to fend for themselves, but to tie strongly to the apron string of their parent, notwithstanding that the country operates a federal system of government. Going into history, at independence and in the first republic, there were viable entities, such as North, East and Western Regions; they were self- sustaining, and they provided for the central government.

Consequent upon the move of the East to pull out of Nigeria between 1967 and 1970, under the name, Republic of Biafra, political leaders proffered the solution of breaking of the entities into small and unviable entities so much so, that each state may never conceive, or carry out any meaningful development by itself. Yet, the doom in the state creation as above identified is ignored, that political leaders still clamour for creation of states that will fit into their immediate family structures and to be named after them, on their demise. Rather than to have more states, should the Country not go back to the past, adopt Zonal system of government, wherein the 6 zones in the country shall be political entities and shall be self-sustaining? The country can then retain its cherished ‘most populous black nation’ appellation while productivity, pragmatism and foresight shall be the motto and the driving force of the entity, Nigeria.

Today, we have 36 States of which only Lagos State is viable. The reason is not far-fetched, with a population of 20 million people; it generates its revenue from its human and material resources, so much so that, the State is the ‘de facto commercial capital of Africa.’ The State did not receive monthly grants for a couple of months under President Obasanjo, it never crumbled.

Should the oil dry up, or should the major oil companies’ in their criminal connivance with oil robbers in the Niger Delta area overthrow the Federal Government of Nigeria, the consequential benefits to Nigeria are enormous and include the following: diversified economy; employment generation. These would have solved criminality within the polity. The fact of idle hands being the devils workshop cannot be ignored. You can’t imagine a person who has a harvest target to meet on his farm, now to submit himself to crime. It is a person who no longer has a stake in the country, as presently constituted that would opt for suicide mission with or without being deceived that such is a noble cause. Increased Gross Domestic Product and a strong currency (favorable exchange rate) shall follow productive engagement of all Nigerians. Above all, Nigeria without the oil shall translate to cessation of corruption at the federal, state and local government levels. The reason is simply that government officials shall be transparent and accountable on the common wealth created by every Nigerian. Oil money is free money which is stolen, even from the pages of paper. What has any Nigerian contributed as to confer on him, standing at law, to question how oil money is supposedly spent?

The oil and sole reliance on its revenue leads to Nigeria being described as a country where nothing works. How true is it that nothing works in Nigeria? How can anyone feign ignorance of the cabal at work in whatever name they choose to be called? Cabal is just not a new word entering the dictionary of Nigerians. The English word has been domesticated into indigenous languages, for instance, in Yoruba language; it is called ‘Eniyan Kaba Kaba’ which translates into mischievous persons. How can anybody say he is ignorant of the cabal and its works?

Recently, billions of naira pension funds for retired civil and public servants disappeared into the pockets of a few and the Senate Committee appointed to probe the fraud allegedly got its hands stained. Will a relation of the retirees say nothing works in Nigeria? Nigerian government in its characteristic patriotism recognizes the existence of cabal and do point accusing fingers at cabal when it finds it desirable. Who then should be ignorant of the cabal and its works?

At the peak of labour/ government negotiation on planned increase of pump price of petrol the Minister of Petroleum Diezeani Alison Madueke accused a cabal of not letting dividends of subsidy get to the people. She later denied having referred to any cabal. The fear of the cabal is the beginning of wisdom, at least, for very senior government officials. The Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina has for a couple of times asserted that Nigerians eat 15 year old foreign reserved grains, which in his expertise claims is better for livestocks. To him, they are imported by a cabal for selfish economic interests. Governor Raji Fashola of Lagos State has also alleged the cabal on the destructive influence on energy generation in Nigeria. Who is the cabal that appears to be above questioning and the law of the land?

The Federal Government kept on giving assurances of its capabilities in confronting security and its other challenges. Yet if anyone relies on the strength of such statements, such a person is on his own. Can the government be seen to be in control? Sovereignty which resides in the people vests in the elected government at election period. However, on account of electoral mal-practices which is the order of the day, impurities infects mandate the Government receives, the government thus becomes unrepresentative of the people and thus, dormant. The way forward in tackling sleeping governance is not in a further election of 2015, which would still go the way of the earlier ones, but in a conference of the Nigerians, which shall also consist of the citizens, the cabals in the socio, political and economic sectors, as well as the government.

Nigerians are the best people to govern worldwide. They are peace loving, hardworking and resilient. Whereas the French Revolution of 1789 was caused on account of scarcity of bread, how many times have the basic needs of Nigerians been denied them? Is epileptic and almost absent power supply that generates bread for tables of Nigerians not more than bread it supplies? Rather than to be fighting for their rights to sustenance, so many generations of Nigerians have opted for economic exile in foreign lands where they stomach many discriminations. A fish gets rotten from the head; leadership failure is the problem of Nigeria. During the Buhari/ Idiagbon regime, every Nigerian religiously conformed with the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) principles. The people are still patriotic given the rights circumstances.

Resilience is however not a language known to Nigerian Government and that is why you see smiles in the faces of the Federal Executive Council members at their meetings while Nigerians are wearing mournful looks. Edo State Governor, Adam Oshiomole considers undeserved cruelty to humanity and submits that nobody has monopoly of madness, there has to be a balance of it. In support of this is the contention of another serving Governor, Governor Lamido, that Nigeria was set for crisis, as youths were left in a distressed condition, due to the failure of government to govern with sincerity and accountability over the decades. Speaking the mind of GOD, The Archbishop of Ibadan Province, Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, The Most Reverend Joseph Akinfenwa, has warned of imminent revolution to cure the socio -economic challenges bedeviling the country. The Archbishop tasked the leadership of the country on making life meaningful by improving on the standard of living of Nigerians.

The solution the various challenges confronting the Nigerian nation is for the Government to look beyond oil. It should engage its working class citizens in gainful ventures, and to be mindful, and advisably provide local and unadulterated foods for its citizens.  Government should be up and doing in fixing electricity, refinery, and to generate employment within a stipulated time. The long term solution, essentially, is food and other basic needs of life’s security, and to secure for every Nigerian, a stake in the country.

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