This is about my beloved country Nigeria. She is blessed with, among other natural resources, oil and gas resources. Her proven reserve of this resource places her among the top bracket globally. And we all know the wealth that this releases to the nation; providing her the capacity to meet her stately functions/obligations to her people. Has this happened? Has this resource and the attendant wealth brought us the good it is meant to, the very reason the LOVING GOD gave so much of it to us? You and I know the answers. I will not belabour this, neither will I begin another round of lamentation over this – so much tears already and much more, so much blood and much more.
I have been thinking and silently praying – I have not been bold to pray aloud because I am afraid that the LORD GOD as usual may just honor my prayers and that would be it. What is it I have been thinking? It’s that “may be this oil resources should dry up for a season and time – God should just hold back”. A kind of famine, but this time, on our oil resource. May be for 10-20 years or a little more – call it Vision 2022 – 2032.
Some of you my friends may wonder and even think that I am going nuts – after all, I am also a beneficiary by reason of my employment. But it is not about me or you, it is about us and ours – those here today and those yet unborn.
But why have I been thinking and silently praying about this? May be when the oil resource dries up, we will all go to work, putting our intellect, energies, strengths, ingenuities, etc to honest work. Our River Basins, the oil palm plantations and associated mills; the cocoa farms, etc will come alive again. Our vast arable lands will be put to work again. The not so arable ones will be engineered to become arable and productive, made possible by an educational system that will be robust, alive to the challenges and realities. Then we will labor to make money (dignity in labor you would say) and then pay our taxes accordingly – no evasions. Our taxes will then be used to remunerate those that we elect to help us discharge the functions of state at the local, state and federal levels. This will mean that they can only be remunerated to the extent that our taxes allow (no jumbo pay or arbitrary setting of pay structures), because we also need to set aside enough to deal with development and social matters – infrastructure, education, health, power, sports, etc.
Have you caught my drift? When we pay taxes from our hard earned money – gotten from rigorous application of our talents and energies – you can be sure that we will stand up and be quick to ask question about the use to which our money is put at every point in time. Aspiration to public office will only be for going to render service – help guard the wealth of the future generation. It will become less attractive and much persuasion will be required to convince a man or woman to aspire to go serve the people. And only those who have shown enough dignity in labor will be allowed to go in. And woe betides that one who will attempt to mess with the mandate or tax of the people, earned from dignified labour.
You already know that the flowing oil resource is the real reason for the scramble for political offices today, with the attendant killings, etc. In nearly 98% of the times, the talk about service is far from it. You also know that we seldom complain (this seem to be changing today), because the waste and robberies of the national resource do not have direct impact on our person. It is oil money, not that from all of our taxes. Note that most of those of us who pay the heavier taxes – out of compulsion though – are direct/indirect beneficiaries of the oil wealth and never really care. Why because the balance after the tax deductions still give more than adequate comfort. Am I saying these ones do not work hard? Far from it, I am one also. But I am thinking differently.
This oil and its associated wealth was (and still is, I believe) meant for our good – Nigeria/Nigerians good. But did the Holy Bible not say (talking literarily) that we should cut off one hand, if that hand is proving to be our albatross? Am I not right in thinking the way I do now, may be going ahead to even pray out and ask the LORD GOD concerning this? What have we to show for this so much? What can I really relate to my children today regarding the contradiction in my country – meant for good, but looking like for evil? This morning, one of them asked me exactly what I do in the office that I go everyday – leaving very early and coming in most times so late. I tried to explain, but I am sure I have not explained well enough. I am sure he will come back with this question soonest.
When I do sit down to explain to him, can I in my passion finish explaining without delving into the history of oil resource and attendant wealth regarding Nigeria? Will I not talk about other countries blessed with the same resource as we are and how they have fared? Will he not want to know why his fatherland has not fared well like others and possibly not better? What will I answer? I fear the gruesome task of having to recount and lament to him. I fear. I really dread. How about you?
I am convinced that if only the LORD GOD can give us this famine – dry the resource for a season, the best in us will be brought out. After all, is it not said that necessity is the mother of invention? In real life and from ancient stories, adversity has a way of bringing the best out of a man or people as the case may be. This happening can become a turning point in our national history. These are my thoughts and I am persuaded to make it my vocal prayers. What is your take my friend?
Mr. Obasi, a Lagos-based chemical engineer, blogs at REHOBOTH.