The adage, ‘once bitten, twice shy’, makes a whole lot of sense to serious countries, but not to Nigeria, where the same corruption, lethargy, stupidity, insincerity and government non-creativity in the oil sector have made the title of the ‘fourth-largest-producer-of-cocoa-in-the-world’ count for nothing.
IF PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari suddenly disappears without resigning, tongues will bite, tails will bark; 190 million Nigerians will talk all at once. And if he reappears silently like Professor Peller, with cows in tow, party men will hail; palms will pump in excited handshakes and slap backs across the land in congratulatory joy of assured sumptuous meal tickets for relatives, aides, friends and concubines. Such is the deceptive way of politics. But I’m certain our President ain’t going nowhere! Solid like the Olumo Rock, Aisha’s husband won’t disappear in the next four years.
But Nigeria, our fatherland, is fast disappearing on the geo-political map of global reckoning. Before you accuse me of crying wolf, may I remind you that Nigeria won’t be the first country to disappear on the world map? West Germany, East Germany, Ceylon, Czechoslovakia, Mesopotamia, Prussia, Vermont, Yugoslavia, Newfoundland and many more were all independent countries before something happened to them. The reasons why a country could disappear are as many as they vary. Like we have presently in Nigeria, prospering insecurity, exploding poverty, lame economy, murderous ethnicity, social injustice, insane corruption, and government’s hopeless insensitivity and deceit are some of the reasons for the fall of many independent countries.
I recall the other day when I discussed my fear of a disappearing Nigeria with the Chairman, Tuns Group, Asiwaju Tunde Badmus. When you’re with a father-figure mentor, discussion could centre round anything and everything. On this particular day, we talked about Nigeria, her politics and leaders. I told Asiwaju, as he’s popularly called, that if Nigeria, with her people and natural resources suddenly disappeared from the world map, the world won’t notice. Yes, and I repeat: If Nigeria suddenly drops off the map into a black hole, the world won’t miss us for anything. But Asiwaju affirmed his belief that light would shine forth at the end of Nigeria’s unending tunnel. Asiwaju oozed patriotism even when I reminded him of the government-induced dangers doing business in Nigeria is fraught with. He won’t budge; so won’t I. Patriotism stares reality in the eye: who blinks first?
Before patriotic Nigerians draw their daggers and drag me down to the Place of Skull, proclaiming Nigeria’s position as the world’s sixth largest producer of oil, let me remind them that we are also the world’s largest importer of petrol, meaning that we produce, export and later import the same product at a unit much more exorbitant than we produced it, making us naira-wise, dollar-foolish! Our dear country is the ONLY member country of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that imports petrol. All the other 14 members of OPEC have optimally working refineries – the type the Muhammadu Buhari administration promised Nigerians in 2015 but which have remained in a pipedream in the pipeline.
According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, our beloved country produces 2.5million barrels of oil per day – way below her three million-barrel per day capacity. In an editorial on March 11, 2019, The Nigerian Tribune says the four refineries in the country –Warri, Kaduna and the two in Port Harcourt – produce a meager 445, 000 barrels of petrol per day, which is 120 times lesser than the country’s daily consumption of 53million litres per day. To augment the yawning shortfall, the NNPC imports one million tonnes of petrol per month, spending several billions of dollars on oil imports since 2015. In a statement beset by half-truths, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, blamed the perennial fuel scarcity in the country on the smuggling of petroleum products to neighboring countries, and the inability of major and independent marketers to import petrol due to high landing cost. Baru didn’t see the inability of the Buhari administration to fulfil its promise of revamping the four refineries as the biggest drawback to an industry bled to comatose by official corruption and shylock investors.
Nigeria is also the fourth largest producer of cocoa in the world behind Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia and Ghana, respectively. The adage, ‘once bitten, twice shy’, makes a whole lot of sense to serious countries, but not to Nigeria, where the same corruption, lethargy, stupidity, insincerity and government non-creativity in the oil sector have made the title of the ‘fourth-largest-producer-of-cocoa-in-the-world’ count for nothing. Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have been able to deepen the quality of their cocoa and expand its value chain while a large percentage of Nigeria’s cocoa go to waste due to lack of storage facilities, diseases and poor processing techniques.
It’s not all gloom for the biggest black nation on earth. We export the most delectable prostitutes to the rest of the world. Also, our terrorists were ranked by Global Terrorism Index in 2015 as the deadliest just as hundreds of our youths die yearly at sea while attempting to flee the burning poverty in the land and berth abroad.
Though Nigeria doesn’t rank in the list of auto manufacturing countries in the world, but we have an army of youths who ride the okada as if going to hell, killing people daily and cracking skulls and bones. While countries of the world are exploring the possibilities of mass transport, Nigeria is busy importing motorcycles to keep up with the supply of victims to traditional bone setters and orthopedic hospitals. South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia etc are automobile-producing African countries. The products of Nigerian automobile firm, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, haven’t received the desired patronage by the government and the citizenry.
Nigeria is big for nothing. It can neither feed herself nor provide indigenous building materials to house her citizens or produce textile to clothe their nakedness. Nigeria spends $5million daily for rice imports from China, Thailand, Indonesia, among others. Instead of developing indigenous and alternative building materials towards making housing affordable, Nigeria chases after exorbitant cement, iron rods, foreign paints, bathroom fittings, furniture and other interior décor items.
During his first tenure inauguration oga Buhari promised to fix the country’s electricity, saying that, “It’s a national shame that an economy of 180 million people generates only 4,000MW and distributes less.” Nigerians now know that the statement is as porous as Nigeria’s border with electricity supply worse than it was during the stealing-is-not-corruption years of Goodluck Jonathan. A report published by THE PUNCH on May 31, 2019, entitled, “Power shortage: Buhari fails to deliver promised relief,” says that, “Total power generation in the country stood at 3,306.3MW on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 – exactly four years after the President decried the supply of 4,000MW” as a national shame. Data by the Nigeria Electricity System Operator says the nation’s power supply oscillated between 2.978MW and 3.694MW a few days ago just as power generation hit an all-time low of zero megawatt by 6:00am on May 9 and 10.
Last Friday, Forbes quoted a March 25, 2019 documentary by BBC, Africa Eye, which says half of Nigeria’s population has no access to electricity and those that do face daily power cuts, adding that, “This is the kind of stuff that happens in Venezuela, a country facing US sanctions, three years of economic depression with dwindling support. Unlike Venezuela, Nigeria is eighth-largest recipient of international aid. And the second largest in Africa. Nigeria has Africa’s largest gas reserves, some 190 trillion cubic feet. Yet for all this great oil wealth and gas wealth, the country’s electrical grid is a charade.” Shameful country!
On Sunday, August 12, 2018, the US launched humanity’s first ever mission to the sun. The distance between the sun and the earth is 19 years if you drive at 885km/p. It’s 20 years since the advent of our current democracy and water, education, power, employment, security and infrastructure have remained a mirage. Our political leaders struggle to amass power and wealth while Nigeria shrinks daily, disappearing gradually, going, going…
(Published in The PUNCH of Monday, June 3, 2019)
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