Citizens of Niger Delta deserve a better deal from the petro-dollar

Sep 06, 2002 02:00 AM

We do not know how long we will continue to spend the petro-dollars. But if the estimates are anything to go by, the oil wells may dry up in the next thirty or forty years. That means, by the time the present generation of leaders will be going to their graves, they would have left nothing behind for the succeeding generations.
There will be no petro-dollars, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, etc., to sustain life in Nigeria. Our children and their offspring will find themselves in the wilderness of want and abject poverty. Nigeria will then become a medieval nation in a modern age.
There will be enough hunger, disease, mental and moral backwardness as monuments in honour of the generation that eat their own future with that of their children. Nigeria will then become a pathetic byword, metaphor and case study among the comity of nations: Behold a nation whose leaders eat their future with that of their children, leaving them with no inheritance!

What we are doing at present is bad. Weare spending the money we did not work for. Our case is like that of a grown up but foolish farmer who suddenly discovered a treasure in his farmland.
Now, a man of fortune, he called family, friends and well-wishers to party. He abandoned farming and profligacy became his watchword and pastime. He married more wives and embarked on procreation spree. He neither invested a sum in mechanised farming nor empowered his children to create wealth. Years of revelry rolled by and he was near his grave.
Since he was only spending without replenishing, the till became lean and the grim reality of hunger and want dawned on his bewildered household. Although there could be no hunger in the grave, he had not wished to leave his children without hope and future. Grey hairs, dim eyes, few teeth and weak limbs, wishes only remained as wishes!

We do not know how much we owe nor how we came to own that much. That, in itself, is a shame. Twenty-eight, thirty or thirty-two billion dollars is certainly not a small amount of money. Too bad that we are leaving the succeeding generations with no petro-dollars. Worse still that they will have to pay for the debt they did not incur. We have mortgaged the future of our children. If there is neo-colonialism, who says there can be no neo-slavery?
I pray that does not become the lot of Nigeria in time to come. But it suffices to say that a generation that are eating their tomorrow today are inadvertently preparing their children and grandchildren for the roles of hewers of wood and drawers of water. There is, therefore, need to pause and reflect profoundly over these thing. It is not too late in the day to retrace our steps.

When there was no petro-dollar, people worked with their hands and made enough money to feed their children. Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy because we made a lot of money from export of agricultural produce. The discovery of crude oil ought to have taken Nigeria to the summit of prosperity.
Huge investments should have been made in mechanised agriculture. A solid industrial base should have been laid for the country's economy. We should have become a major exporter of manufactured goods. We should have invested in the exploration of solid minerals buried across the length and breadth of the nation.
The country should have been earning foreign currencies from sales of columbite, tantalite, gypsum, arnote, gold, kaolin and the like. Nigeria ought to have become an industrial giant by the end of the last century. It rankles, why should a nation blessed with enormous resources be wallowing in abject poverty? <<P>We ought to weep and bury our heads in shame. Nature could never have been kinder to a nation! It is sad that even the little petro-dollars we have made is concentrated in the hands of a few Nigerians -- the former military rulers and their civilian comrades --installing. But they should live under no illusion.
They may bequeath vast empires and so much fortunes to their children, but there can be no safety for the rich in the land of the poor. They will eventually discover, perhaps too late, that it is better for every man in the society to have good food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to lay his head in the night. The writing is clear on the wall.
We are already being treated to a foretaste of what life will become if things degenerate and life totally becomes a restriction for the majority of Nigerians. How I wish we could pull ourselves back from this brink of mutual disaffection and destruction! A lot of injustices are being perpetrated in Nigeria.

The area that produces the petro-dollar is devastated and degraded. The people have no safe drinking water, electricity, schools and other social conveniences. Yet, the money made from their environment is being used to develop other areas that contribute little or nothing to the common purse. This is not good at all.
The people of Niger-Delta ought to be living in affluence. Those who don't want the restructuring of the country, who vilify the protagonists of a national conference, do so because of the petro-dollars. But if crude oil or other minerals are discovered in commercial quantities in their area, no one can dispute that they will pull out of Nigeria within forty-eight hours. The citizens of Niger Delta deserve a better deal from the petro-dollar.

Source: This Day
Alexander's Commentary

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