The Nigerian Oil Sector: The Lack of Ownership and Visionary Leadership

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Oil is now $51 per barrel. Nigeria on my mind. We must STOP our leaders from negotiating for political power with economic items they have no control over.

We will never be able to find hope in lies. Even making the right choices for the wrong reasons will defer hope, cause we will never get what we seek. We have made the wrong decisions and lacked the ability to properly manage our wealth or control our resources.

We must take back our oil and determine its price by ourselves. We must negotiate the worth and value of our resources. We must decide our options.

Due to oil wealth, Young Yakubu Gowan once said when he was Head of State in Nigeria, that Nigeria is so rich that we don’t know what to do with our wealth. Who will blame him? He was only between 28 and 32 then.

Olusegun Obasanjo with the same oil money staged the FESTAC ’77. A Nigerian achievement, that Africa and the world are still talking about to this very day. He was young, too, planning for the future was not in sight, so infrastructural development and maintenance of same was not a topic. Note that at that time,  many Nigerian communities did not have electricity. 40 years later, we still have Nigerian communities struggling without power supply.

Young Mohammadu Buhari was minister of Petroleum, when 2.8billion Naira oil money vanished without a trace. Note that as at the time of this event $1 was 67kobo.

 

Sani Abacha another young leader set up the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) – this season of the existence of the PTF recorded some of the most violent events ever witnessed in the Nigerian University System.

Now, with the IBB regime came the clamour for the review of the Derivative Principle as it was called then – the concept presupposed that since the oil was being  taken out of the lands of the people of the Niger Delta, they should be given as of right, a certain portion of the proceeds from the Oil revenue. 13%.  was and is unacceptable !  The people of the Niger Delta couldn’t understand how they were to get only 13% of the proceeds of the oil revenue, when their means of livelihood had been taken away from them through mining activities of companies who were even using substandard equipment to mine the oil. The lands on which they farmed, tilled and harvested from, the water from which they fished and to quench their thirst, the air they breath had all been polluted. The lands and the people had been offended – this is the Genesis of the Niger Delta Uprisings. People were killed, others were arrested and detained indefinitely. From IBB to Abacha to the second coming of Obasanjo to Yar’Adua, these events continued. One minute silence for Ken Saro Wiwa

 

I remember particularly the Odi story. A small village in Bayelsa State that shares a boundary with the River Nun. The natives and residents of this oil rich village had a problem with the law enforcement agencies and the confrontation resulted in the death of 2 policemen and 3 soldiers (I can’t remember the numbers vividly anymore), in response, OBJ sent a squad to Odi – the people that were not gunned down by the soldiers drowned in River Nun. I went to Odi to see things for myself. I participated in a healing process initiated by USAID, Anpez Centre for Environment and Development and the government of Bayelsa State. I spoke at that event and I dedicated a poem called Nfana to the Odi people. When we got to Odi, we went round the community and only 3 buildings were still standing: a bank, an apostolic church (or was it Assemblies of God?) and a partly destroyed school. This was in 1999.

 

From this event and other events similar to it, militant groups started to emerge in the Niger Delta, insisting on the proper compensation for the people.

 

 

 

 

Ogochukwu Nweke

 

 

 

The people of the Niger Delta couldn’t understand how they were to get only 13% of the proceeds of the oil revenue, when their means of livelihood had been taken away from them through mining activities of companies who were even using substandard equipment to mine the oil. The lands on which they farmed, tilled and harvested from, the water from which they fished and to quench their thirst, the air they breath had all been polluted.
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