March 6, 2018
It is a tragic narration on our Nigeria that despite being the sixth largest producer of crude oil, the country is the world’s highest importer of refined petroleum oil and the only Member State of Oil Producing Export Country (OPEC) that does so. The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL notes that this is coming almost immediately after the Transparency International rated Nigeria very low in its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) just as the scepter of expulsion looms over the head of the country Egmont Group of international financial institutions. Discerning, patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians should be concerned on the implications of how the world sees the Nigeria’s situation; its economy, governance and people.
For close to three decades or more specifically, since after the social upheavals and mass strikes actions that protested the annulment of June 12, 1993 Presidential elections generally considered to have been freely and fairly won by late Chief MKO Abiola, the existing four refineries in the country have been grounded in what could just be tagged as a grand larceny and economic sabotage by Nigeria’s quisling ruling class. Ever since, Nigerians have been experiencing perennial scarcity of petroleum products; skyrocketing of its prices and the traumatic attendant hardships.
This administration was voted for massively by Nigerians on a campaign for change but it is fast becoming the same sour wine re-bottled in new wine skin. It seemingly lacks the political will to confront the cabal that has been holding the petroleum industry in fetish and cruel bondage. There has been several cans of worms revealing that a number of unscrupulous people have perfected a scheme to perpetually fleece the country through the notorious petroleum fuel subsidy processes and milking the country of billions of hard currency. It was the great expectation of the entire nation that under President Muhammadu Buhari leadership, the industry would be re-toned, commencing with ensuring that the two refineries in Port-Harcourt, one each in Warri and Kaduna are operational, but this has remained a forlorn hope.
The facts are not just embarrassing but criminally so. How could we have discovered in crude oil in Olobiri since 1955, yet, we are left behind by other nations especially the Arabian countries that were blessed with the resources years after us? How can we be proud of our record as the sixth oil producing country in OPEC yet we are the largest importer of petroleum products in the world? The greatest crime against Nigerian poor, working and toiling persons is the fact that even with the President as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources; the nation still gropes in permanent scarcity of petrol and wild, unstable pricing regime. Different price for a litre of petroleum in different parts of geo-political divides of the country. A more inhumane reality is that when mind boggling public funds from the purse of our petroleum products sales are looted by elected and appointed public officials, they invest part of such money in establishing refineries in other parts of the world. Why, can a nation be so cursed with leaders that are this bestial, insensitive and cruel?
CACOL believes that Nigeria has enough patriotic people with requisite financial sinew to invest in the petroleum industry if our corridor of power is not crawling with knaves like those who perpetuated the Malabu scandal. We can have as many petro-chemical refinery industries as would be sufficient to meet up with our developmental needs if geo-political considerations are not placed in the front burner of our governance.
Thus, we call for total overhaul of the petroleum industry which must start with total rejection of the neo-liberal economic pills of IMF/World Bank which seeks to fully commercialize and privatize the industry for the interest of maximizing crude profit making rather than to serve its functional utility to ameliorate the standard of living and welfare of the majority of Nigerian people. A mono-economy country like Nigeria cannot afford to give full rein to market forces at the detriment of the welfare of its people and invariably, the security and stability of the society. It is highly imperative that when we raise the banner of the question of restructuring, this should begin with total restructuring of the template of running the petroleum industry along with an audacious move to decisively deal with the oil subsidy cabals that have been holding the nation’s development at abeyance rather that than treating them as sacred cows.
Media Coordinator, CACOL
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