As the week winds down and as we approach another Friday, Nigeria cannot but be on the mind. The outlook is not good at all and it takes a starry-eyed optimist to contend otherwise.
At the street level, the specifics of oil and gas situations are very dire. The petrol queues persist, though it has abated somewhat. Another fly in the ointment is the escalating price of diesel.
By the latest reckoning, the price of this vital commodity has gone up by as much as 300 percent!! The implications of this three-fold increase are grim. For those who care to remember: diesel is the main source of power for generators in homes and perhaps, more importantly, in the industries.
What it means is that either of two things will happen. Some industries will fold up and those that manage to remain afloat will increase the cost of their products and services. Such a solution will of course only deepen the misery of the populace.
And while all these are going on, we have been subjected to a total system collapse in the power sector. Twice in recent times, this absolute incident has occurred. What this means is a dismal situation of zero power supply.
How did we come this low? For as we continue to lament, it should be remembered that we are just emerging from the infamous and rather disgraceful saga of dirty fuel.
The promise then was that those responsible for this act would be made to pay for it. But as this piece is being written, one can say with a measure of certainty that all is still quiet on the western front: no action, no movement. And it does not even take much to appreciate that, as usual, everything will soon be forgotten.
What will not be easily forgotten is that the hard times are here. Stark. They continue to stare us in the face and, in the process, contend with us on an everyday basis. The situation has been rendered dire by the fact that even as we get dragged in the mud, analysts are reaching out for simplistic explanations as regards the cause of this evolving and emergent tragedy.
These pundits contend and conclude that the war between Russia and Ukraine constitutes the basis of our woes as this relates to the escalating price of diesel. No. the war in Europe only brought to the fore the bankruptcy and expediency which go for oil policy in Nigeria.
For the umpteenth time, and if I may be allowed to restate here, it is beyond explanation that an oil-producing country like Nigeria cannot put in place functional contraptions, which could have added value to our crude oil.
So, in the light of this bankrupt policy, when anything happens out there and the price of crude oil increases, then we are doomed as in the present circumstance. So, any rational mind should perish the thought that we are currently reeling under the consequence of the imbroglio between Russia and Ukraine.
In reality, what we are contending with is a disaster that could have happened in view of our less-than-imaginative oil policy.
One of the so-called experts had the temerity to tell us that even with domestic and functional refineries, this would still have been our lot.
How so? One may ask. It is a contention that flies in the face of reality for a number of reasons. In the first instance, the cost of non-OPEC-inspired crude price, which would have been used to feed our refineries, would have been much lower.
Again, the labour cost, which would have gone into our refining of the crude oil over there, is not the same as the labour cost here. Indeed, what is often not appreciated is that such are the historical and political dynamics, which have gone into the establishment of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that the prices put in place by this inter-governmental body were not meant to apply to oil-producing countries in an adverse way.
Rather, these countries including Nigeria were supposed to be beneficiaries of OPEC’s exertions. But in the case of Nigeria, the opposite situation obtains which is as disgraceful as it is incredulous.
And while all these are happening, the human tendency is to look around and search around for any ray of hope. Where is the succour? Citizen Tijani Okechukwu Olu is bound to ask.
You look in the direction of the Nigerian state or its counter-currents and there is no hope there. Indeed, despair is the watchword. As regards the ruling party, politicking, and not just politics, is the main game. Forces and counter-forces are seeking to out-manoeuvre one another as 2023 dawns.
The governors’ forum, the various presidential aspirants and the current surrogacy, which hallmarks the various campaigns to draw people into the presidential race.
Another name for much of the foregoing is politicking of the maximum variety. No one should get it wrong here. Politics, properly played, has a noble end. But politicking is a different kettle of flesh.
It revolves around base and sheer personal ambitions, with very little thought beyond the self. So, as Rome continues to burn, the various Neroes continue to fiddle.
Matters have certainly been worsened by the fact that the twin brother of the ruling party is no better. Rather than rise to the occasion, as a formidable and viable alternative to the ruling party, nothing is also coming forth from this quarter.
What obtains is just another shade of maximum politicking. What I expected would be a platform that will reassure Nigerians that all is not lost. At least this ought to be the position of an opposition party or, better still, the shadow government.
This is more so in these times, when there seems to be darkness visible, metaphorically and physically. Meanwhile, there are long queues at the petrol stations – a situation that has been complemented by features like an absent presidency and a clueless opposition.
Therefore, it is evident that the citizens are caught between the rock and hard place. Perhaps and just perhaps, a third force will emerge to clean this Augean stable. But do not bet on it. Rather, I am reminded about those despairing tones with which Dilibe Onyeama ended his book titled ‘Nigger at Eton’.
For those who have not read the book, Onyeama in his conclusion wrote along the following lines:
“This is a world in which the black man has come to suffer and will always suffer.”
Under normal circumstances, Nigeria, the great black hope should have been able to reverse this untoward situation. But as it is, and given what has been sketched above, it looks as if there is much to be said for the concluding renditions of Dilibe Onyeama in that book.