Saturday, 02 July 2005
Resource Control Debates: Arguing Both Sides!
By Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
To begin, let us stipulate or agree that there has been injustice regarding the control of Nigerian resources in the past, let us further stipulate, that Nigerians should not be in the business of creating further injustices for us now or for us in the future. Just as all Nigerians must bear in mind, that a Nigerian is Nigerian is Nigerian deserving the benefit of all the resources under , above, across and in between grounds, under water etc
All Nigerians in the North and South or in-between, deserve equal treatment, equal respect, duties, responsibilities and obligations of Nigerian full citizenship; Petroleum oil is today, currently the national income earner for Nigeria, but this was not always so.
Before petroleum oil was discovered in Nigeria, there were commodities, cash crops etc. such as cocoa, ground nuts/peanuts, rubber, palm oil, palm kernel etc which earned Nigeria’s foreign exchange… this means that there is a possibility of other discoveries of natural and mineral resources in the future or another moment in time, compared with what we know and have now.
Discoveries of prized minerals, resources etc that could be derived from Bauchi or Potiskum assuming a barrel of crude oil now sells for $60, but even if it progresses t o $200 a barrel, but suppose that the oil reserves is depleted eventually, as oil supply is not infinite? What will the present gyrating agitators do? Will they then stop their gra~gra? And come to my hometown of Damaturu and beg my townsfolk for a share of our ninety percent derivation fund, which we are newly entitled and newly earned, from our newly minted uranium mines? As uranium now sells $500 an ounce because more and more nations seek nuclear and or atomic energy, for peaceful or even violent purposes or for no purpose at all?
My point here, is simply t o say that Nigerians in Nigeria or every corner of the earth, ought to be each other’s keeper, brother and sister keeper. Just because this has not been so in the past, is no reason why Nigerians cannot now practice fairness, good judgment or good sense.
Resource Control loud advocacy have become convenient argument for ignoring real issues among non-performing government officials, among whom, are governors of the states petroleum is derived, among governors who have not improved the lot of the people of their states, governors who have not spent the corresponding increases in federally allocated revenues for the provision of public infrastructures and social amenities, despite the marked increase in monies flowing to the oil producing states the inception of President Obasanjo’s administration! Why don’t Nigerians, all Nigerians demand proper accounting for the federally allocated revenue, that is based on current derivation formula?
Resource Control has enable these governors to deflect their lack luster performance or even complete ineptitudes! Are the oil producing states better off than they were with less percentage of federally derived revenue from oil? What difference has arisen from the higher percentage of revenue that has been allocated to the oil producing states, say, since 1999? Are there better roads, better hospitals, better public infrastructures and social amenities in all the oil producing states? As a result of higher revenue federally allocated?
The best argument for derivation would be, ought to be and should be, adequate care is taken in the provision is made for the health wealth and happiness of all Nigerians, whether or not, uranium, cocoa-yam or uranium are found beneath the earth in their domains. Adequate protection ought to be provided for, any area in Nigeria, north or south where mining or exploration exploitation of natural or mineral resources is undertaken for Nigeria’s national income and benefit.
Environmental degradation ought to be avoided, or completely compensated, or in the alternative, Nigeria must ensure, that those whose domain house the chicken that lays our national golden eggs, are fed cared for adequately; Pollution in fish ponds, farmlands are eliminated… And side effects as consequence of gas flaring are tackled. Oil exploration and exploitation must be conducted in the most environmentally friendly method possible, given the current state of science and technology.
All Nigerians, especially the political leadership and the elite must stop manipulating the average Nigerians, they must stop leaving acid of hatred in the bloods of poor gullible Nigerians, as these political leaders and elite, always appear to collude to engender bad feelings, mutual suspicions, with their regular trade marks, with their Us versus Them arguments, which is frequently how both sides have presented the pros and cons of resource control in Nigeria, which at best, delicate an issue, just as it requires looking beyond today, and looking at the big picture!
What would you lose, if everyone in your state and my state are happy, because of the products derived from my state or your state? What exactly is the difference between a Nigerian in Abuja without clean water, and the Nigerian in Lagos or Burutu without clean water, electricity or health care and good roads and schools? What is the difference between an unemployed Igbo person, Hausa person or Yoruba person? For me, they are just unemployed desperate Nigerians! A hungry Nigerian has not ethnicity, religion or region, his region is desperation, his religion is hopelessness, his ethnic group is called hunger and abject poverty, and according to President Obasanjo, a hungry person is an angry and dangerous person! And for me, that could be anyone!
Both sides ought cease alluding to self-defeating conspiracies, the grandstanding and prodigal son type arguments ought to be stopped forthwith, the winner takes all attitudes should be condemned, the dichotomies of citizenship and indigene, or settler ought to be eliminated, the right attitude, is, all Nigerians, and even non-Nigerians who may live amongst Nigerians in Nigeria, are entitled to the benefits of Nigeria’s resources, whether petroleum oil, uranium or wheat or cattle or kunnu! We should make Nigeria a good country, there is abundance in Nigeria for everyone! Why fight over resources?
Nigerians ought not and must not alienate other fellow Nigerians with unguarded utterances and pronouncements in the name of resources control, especially if such comments borders insensitivity and complete disregard for the feelings of other fellow Nigerians… Just because unfairness have been practiced in the past, is not reason to make unfairness the law of the land. Nigerians ought not equate injustices and inequities of the past with conventional wisdom