Oil everywhere, but where is the …

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Oil Everywhere

Oil Everywhere

Before the war, there were four regions: West, Midwest, North and East. Ondo is home to West’s oil; Midwest oil mainly in Delta; North, hurrah! oil now in Sokoto; East, almost all the states. Oil everywhere, but where’s the mind?

Ogoni regretted having oil because it cost them their environment and had their chief voice hanged. In Bayelsa and Rivers, most creeks are dark with oil seals and wrecked vessels. Water tracks to the villages lead to badly impoverished communities. When they, out of frustration, protested in Odi, their community was levelled.

In Imo and Abia, the governors until the coming of Rochas preferred to behave as though there were no oil wells to keep the public blind enough and retire to do the usual silently. In Ondo, there are intermittent Ilaje-militant incursions/intimidations. Anambra was recently welcomed to the club, and now sleeping Kogi and Enugu States say ‘it’s ours, we shall report you’, a kind of ‘food is ready’ mentality. And now in Sokoto, thank GOD Sokoto, there’s oil.

The dichotomies: The offshoot of the civil war was unitary federalism that concentrated power on the centre. State apparatuses and worth moved to the centre in a bid to exert firmer control of the regions. The aim was to prevent any region getting too strong to challenge the federation or its parts. It worked partially well as a prevention mechanism against sectional pull-out. It meant also that petro-dollar and power moved to the centre. Relevance and greed followed. With the centre controlling power and multinationals needing protection to oil-deposits, they naturally looked to the centre. There, the trade-off took place: protection to the multinationals, petro-dollar to the centre, the people suspended. They had no bargaining chip (power/money). So sprang the first dichotomy: trade-off beneficiaries: centre and multinationals against the deprived spectator-mass. Injustice born. Many years of failed expectation and deprivation delivered militancy.

Where was the mind? It was domiciled in a conspiracy that produced a stupendously wealthy class at the top and an abjectly impoverished on-looker mass below. Unjust distribution. It wasn’t broad enough to see the people as pivotal stakeholders in the oil-windfall. Rather than bring the high and low together symbiotically, its managers separated them into ‘Oga’ and ‘I’m loyal’ classes.

For four decades now, oil has remained Nigeria’s main economic thrust. The petro-dollar was so much at once that it made little business sense to the feeble to continue toiling for agriculture and other resources for a longer time with lesser, immediate yield. Where was the mind? In laziness and a false sense of affluence.

Laziness led to the abandonment of other sectors; false sense made the greedy young ones see wealth on display but noticed ‘it’s not for them’. They wore masked face, got armed and hit the highways/households as robbers. Years later, their art got two siblings: militancy and kidnapping.

The ones who couldn’t mask their faces got themselves positions where they change figures or intimidate to become instant millionaires/billionaires. These you find in white-collar outfits, military/paramilitary, etc; they make policies, flout them and go free. The judiciary that should halt them found out, lately though, that pursuing justice with empty stomach makes one a motley fool; so justice reverted to the highest bidder. In this variant, another dichotomy emerged: oil-producing and non-oil-producing states accompanied by their consummate derivatives and envies.

Every state wants to become an oil-producing state. Those that already are elbow their neighbours for more. Ask Akwa-Ibom and Rivers. But unknown yet is the latent conflict these brew. Where’s the mind domiciled? In ‘all-for-me’ syndrome.
For oil reasons, we’ve developed a mutually exclusive acquisitive mind that’s sometimes virulent. It’s like: if you have oil, you can exist without others. In other words, OIL EQUALS NATION. Laugh! That’s the psychological downside of Nigeria’s oil-find which, if not competently addressed, would make it more a divider, fast-tracking separation rather than building a formidably strong nation.

Now that all parts have oil, let’s see if the 13 percent derivation fund as well as the onshore/offshore dichotomy arguments would become more reasonable. I’m foreseeing a return of the 50 percent derivation fund now that the north is coming into the club.
Fact is, 52 years on, a nation hasn’t grown out of Nigeria.

Our mind’s eye hasn’t seen the possible transformation of national wealth to world power. We can’t see using resources beyond self and section. Those with oil face Nigeria’s exit; those without pray they can have, call the bluff and face the exit too. In contrast, if we got it right, many neighbouring countries could forget their plebiscites and face Nigeria’s entrance.
Now what’s the thrust? To tick, oil-boom must be complemented by mind-boom; otherwise, oil will destroy.

In : Business

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