• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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OBJ and Clark: Smell the coffee (2)

Obj and Clark: Smell the coffee! (2)

This is essentially the second of a two-part series. In the earlier piece on Friday, we debunked the notion that Nigeria is an oil-producing country in substantive terms. What really subsists is that the oil industry is still being controlled by the international oil companies and their parent governments. And as such, the debate between Obasanjo and Edwin Clark is largely sterile. In what follows, we will expand on this argument by demonstrating that these seemingly invisible and invincible forces ie the oil companies and their parent governments will go any length to protect their oil interests across the world- Nigeria inclusive.

In consonance with the character of the perfidious Albion, BP paid both sides into their respective escrow accounts. At the end of the day, the company ably backed by Britain went with the winning coalition. And talking of royalties reminds one of the facts that on a consistent basis, a resource that could have been used as a basis for our industrialization and manufacturing profiles has become something of an albatross around our neck. This is in the light of its capacity for spawning divisiveness and near-death of the Nigerian state.

This is because from the middle of the twentieth century when oil was discovered in commercial quantities, Nigeria has remained frozen at the upstream phase of the Nigerian oil industry. She is nowhere to be found at the equally critical midstream and downstream phases of the industry. The consequence is that what Nigeria gets by way of royalties, amounts to five percent of what should normally accrue to her. I had a practical glimpse of what is being said here at a seminar in France in 2011. It was organized by, you guessed it- one of the IOCs. We were taken through the processes which crude oil undergo when it is taken from our shores. And you want to weep here for the monumental loss, which accrues to Nigeria and other theoretical oil-producing countries, which abound in Africa. When I expressed my surprise at this situation, one of the Nigerian Professors at the conference, took me aside and gravely informed me that, when the smallest tanker of crude oil leaves Nigeria, and gets processed; its fiscal proceeds can pay the salaries of the personnel in a typical Nigerian oil company for one year. It is that bad for my beloved country.

So when our OBJ and Edwin begin to trade words on who owns the oil, the discerning reader cannot but appreciate the futility of their brick-bats. In apportioning blame however and despite his Pan-Nigerian outlook, OBJ must take the greater share; he is much more exposed than the other gentleman. And I am saying this because of his encounter with Mathieu Kerekou, the former leader of the Benin Republic, The country was in trouble economically as the story goes, he turned to Obasanjo, the President of his Nigerian neighbour. He in turn asked him what happened to the famed oil revenues of Benin Republic.

When our OBJ and Edwin begin to trade words on who owns the oil, the discerning reader cannot but appreciate the futility of their brick-bats

Obj was then told that another Western oil company had as usual, given Nigeria’s small neighbour, the short-end of the stick. Therefore, all things considered, in the light of the exchange between these two notable Nigerians, Nigeria has completely missed the boat as regards her uneven and hegemonic relationship with the oil companies and their parent governments. At this juncture, the relevant question is this; How can we retrieve the situation and still save this raped and abused country? Evidently, this will be a hard-task. And the Bible even says that much in view of the declaration that my people perish for lack of knowledge.

Clearly, the relevant knowledge about our so-called oil industry is lacking. So lacking that the basics about our industry are not known. For instance, how many barrels of oil do we export on a daily basis. Nobody knows. Though, we posture that we do. Has anyone noticed that anytime Big Oil declares a force majeure as regards its operations, we all begin to shake, for our budget plans would have been compromised. On this note, it is worth noting that one writer has put it colourfully that: the Nigerian State is a shell, while SHELL is the Nigerian State! In saying this it is also relevant to mention that, even our regulatory agencies lack the capacity to monitor and audit the oil companies. More often than not, these agencies rely on the facilities of the self-same companies to carry out their statutory responsibilities. Only one word can be used to describe this: Shame!

Read also: Obj and Clark: Smell the coffee! (1)

It is shameful still that this and other issues do not constitute part of our national conversation. Rather, what we get treated to is the bankrupt debate between Obj and Clark.

Meanwhile, as the last word, permit me to say here that those social forces on the other side, do not joke about these things. They can be very serious. They go for broke and they do not take prisoners. If you doubt me, check the literature on the dismal outcomes which became a lot of individuals like Mossadegh, Gaddafy, Enrico Mattei, and our own Ken Saro Wiwa. They all perished on the altar of Big Oil and their parent governments. So, OBj and Edwin Clark as you continue to jive on this critical issue, smell the coffee. The oil in substantive and practical terms belongs to neither Nigeria nor the Niger Delta. Unfortunately, time is running out.

There are new energy scenarios on the horizon. Should this come to be, then we will be faced with the reality of the demise of the oil age. Unfortunately, even in the emergent dispensation, chances are that our passive role will not change. This is certainly one more reason why the likes of Obj and Clark should smell the coffee as regards the grim power realities out there. But this injunction is not for them alone. Those angling for power in 2023 should do the same. For much too long, the Nigerian State has been disrobed in critical areas. Enough of this humiliating display of combative ignorance.