Great! Was my exclamation of relief when I heard of the intentions of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. So we are also going to have our own militants up North, I openly pondered, who would at least be fighting for something tangible and earthly and could even negotiate with an arch-enemy, insofar as the reward is measured in vast sums of money; unlike the current insurgents who merely believe in the impressionable visions of an hereafter, which is to kill everybody whom you disagreed with, and yours shall be a permanent abode in paradise.
Actually it was a crafted piece of media blitz, which progressively filled the information media space in the last few days, when Andrew Yakubu, the recently appointed managing director of the NNPC, visited the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Namadi Sambo, in his office, principally to discuss on the continuation of the company’s exploration activities in the North.
Specifically, it is about the concretization of the search for crude oil in the Chad Basin, which has been a continuous exercise for a very long time, with nobody in government circles finding it convenient to pursue it to conclusion, until now when the accepted norm is about private sector led business arrangements; with the highly corrupt and inefficient oil conglomerate still a public owned company despite the year 2015 coming upon us.
The history of the oil exploration activities in the North has been a checkered one, with many hopeful pronouncements of discoveries of the black gold in commercial quantities, truncated by a period of truant silence on what is actually happening in the arid dryness of the Chad Basin. More so, as it is within the same geographical axis of the geological belt, as Niger and Chad Republic, where crude oil has been discovered. It is only a an artificial barrier and demarcation of a national boundary that has classified the same geographical area into three distinct national territories.
Yet, all these rational facts could not galvanize the national oil company, to seek the extraction of the much needed primary energy source, to the surface of the earth, for the optimization of its potential in increasing the general revenue base of the nation. This is, perhaps, because of the singular notorious fact about a typical government corporation in Africa being characteristically inefficient. As such, globally, the smart wisdom within governmental circles is to dissociate public bureaucrats from involvement in business oriented and profit motivated commercial concerns, because nothing good ever comes out of such arrangements.
Thus, you could understand my shock, when the new management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, undertook a short journey from its towers to the Presidential Villa to meet the Vice President with so much fanfare, about its exceptional capacity and capability to make the dream of an average northerner a reality. For somebody who considers himself cosmopolitan, thus having friendships with all kinds of persons from every nook and cranny of the nation, nothing puts so much strain on such relationships, especially the ones engineered through the medium of the social media, than the usual once in a while spat with a Niger-Deltan, who never fails to remind everyone on the almost single commodity of petroleum resources, which sustains the revenue base of the country.
It is at those times that the essential pedestrian nature of a typical Nigerian surfaces, when issues of corruption, nepotism, un-patriotism and outright theft against a called son or rather daughter of the soil arises, the adverse chorus is let him or her steal the money, after all it is our own and isn’t it better for ours to enjoy the loot, than an alien from the tribe of our communal foes. The grand irony though is that countries and economies are never built on the pilfering capacity of individuals from the commonwealth treasury of the greater local, regional or national community.
A little dispassionate and realistic analysis suggests that the occurrence and availability of mere unrefined crude oil, does not signpost wealth or development, as natural resource in Africa have never served as a foundation for development, rather it only represents an avenue for personal enrichment and grand corruption. Indeed, the economic predicament of the oil producing states in Nigeria is a clear pointer to such scenario, with the politicians of the region helping themselves to the overall commonwealth of all. Thus, any discovery which only copied the same pattern of travesty of leadership down south, shall never be an aspiration that could warrant emulation by the political north. It is a situation that only financially caters for the exploiting militants of the creeks, at the expense of the poor farmers and fishermen that are directly affected by the destructive effect of oil exploration activities in the region.
Any smart observer of the recent happenings in Nigeria would easily decipher the volcanic currents of strategies and projections for the next general elections, when many men and women of power face the inevitable destiny of either a re-election or a re-appointment. Thus the visible tone of discussion is always about who succeeds whom into higher office, while the need to identify with the home base aspirations of a politician becomes paramount. As such an effort at an oil find, no matter how disingenuous, would seem great on the retinue of achievements a desperate politician finds desirable to relay on a re-election platform. But any discernible observer knows that profitable matters of private enterprise are only attained through serious efforts at a sober resolve to manage production; a task simply beyond an organization such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has a strong phobia for the maintenance of mere refineries.
Note: I am resting my column for a few weeks, as I embark on a holy pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, which is hoping that we shall meet at the other side of time.