Obviously, the geographical area called Nigeria, which was created by the British colonialists, exists because of its vast oil deposits. Take away oil, there won’t be Nigeria.
Apparently, the struggle for the control of oil deposits, which are located in the former Eastern region and especially along the Niger delta; inspired Nigeria and her military to massacre the people of former Eastern region during the brutal Biafra war.
At the end of the Biafra war, the elites from northern and western Nigeria allocated most of the Oil wells to themselves. The proceeds from the few remaining Oil wells were shared monthly, among the States of Nigeria.
And so, the Nigerian economy started relying solely on oil proceeds. To buttress the importance of Oil in Nigeria, the federal government, yearly, spends millions of dollars in search of Oil in the Lake Chad basin.
These are funds that should have been used to develop Nigeria’s other vast natural resources including agriculture.
In short, before the discovery of Oil, Nigerian economy was driven by agriculture, such as palm oil/produce, cocoa, rubber, groundnut, etc. But not again as Oil became the goose that lays the golden eggs.
However, the over reliant on Oil proceeds and the abandonment of other sources of income, have started affecting the Nigerian economy. For instance, Nigerian State Governors are now unable to pay salaries to their staff.
They blamed it on the declining Oil prices, which have fallen from over $100 per barrel to around $60 per barrel. Mr Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of Osun State, the State most affected, said that the situation is absolutely beyond his control.
Gov Rauf must be a clown to make such a statement. If he can’t pay salaries, how would he develop Osun State? The implication of his statement is that in the absence of Oil proceeds from Niger Delta, there won’t be any Osun State.
And this Gov Rauf is one of those irritants that don’t have respect for the goose that lays the golden eggs.
These are the type of charlatans that are ‘elected’ to govern Nigerian States. Their preoccupation is waiting to receive the State’s monthly subvention from the Federal government. And thus, nobody gets paid if the federal allocation doesn’t arrive.
The situation in Osun State is pathetic, especially now that its civil servants are begging for handouts from charities. In fact, the honourable thing for the governor to do is to resign, since he has acknowledged his inability to handle the crisis.
But he will not resign. And perhaps, he’s waiting for Pres Buhari to stabilise the Oil prices as he promised during his presidential campaigns. Gov Rauf should stop deceiving himself as Oil prices are going to hover around $60 per barrel for a very long time.
And to worsen the prospects of any increase in Oil prices, the just concluded meeting of the G7 industrialised nations pledged to phase out fossil Oil by the end of the century.
In other words, the industrial countries are going to depend more on renewable energy and less on Oil. And hence, the more renewable energy they use the more Oil prices will decline.
Again, any more falls in Oil prices will further reduce the income accruable to Nigeria. And that means less income for States to share, which may lead to additional failed States like Osun.
And when Oil, which artificially binds the different nationalities in Nigeria, becomes worthless, the centre will definitely not hold and Chinua Achebe’s statement will resonate – “There was a country”!