Saturday, December 24, 2011

Is Nigeria a Failed State or A Failing State? (Part 1)

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The unhealthy political atmosphere and decaying infrastructure coupled with the slow technological and industrial growth in the country have left so many people with the question as to whether Nigeria is a failed state. Why should Nigerians be so pessimistic or hopeless about a country so blessed by God? Why should people live in misery and abject poverty in a country that is arguably among the most naturally endowed in the world? Are the average Nigerian citizenry unpatriotic and non-supportive of their country? I think not.

In a situation where one sees so much natural resources – Crude oil, flowing in the creeks of the Niger Delta, limestone, gemstones, bitumen, gold, bauxite, tin, coal, clay, kaolin, etc. distributed around one and yet there is hunger everywhere, and only politicians are growing fatter and walking around ostentatiously in their flowing regalia, how do you think they should feel, happy?

The reason for the pervading air of despondency and indifference spans from the fact that the lingering state of backwardness, social insecurity, poverty, hunger, preventable diseases, academic decline, political enmity and treasury looting have given the masses no hope about the future. It is on record that 45% of the masses live below poverty line.

Nigeria has earned several billions of dollars (over a trillion dollars actually) from crude oil since oil was discovered in the country in1957. But as the 6th highest producer of crude oil in the world, after 54 years of oil exploration the political leaders are yet to publicly account for the revenue derived from this precious ‘black gold’ which is supposed to be a blessing to the country: the country heavily depends on oil revenue which accounts for over 90% of national GDP to finance its budget while other sectors like agriculture, solid minerals, etc. have been grossly neglected, leaving a lot of the youths and graduates unemployed and roaming the streets.

Each government that comes into power seems to be bereft of concrete ideas as to how to move the nation forward. Log term planning does not exist in their dictionaries. All that comes to their minds is how to increase the pump price of petroleum products since it is the easiest way to make money without sweating. A lot of the oil revenue eventually ends up in the pockets of the few avaricious politicians and their cronies who believe they are doing Nigerians a favour by ruling them.

The current government is even considering total removal of petroleum subsidy at all cost. But nobody has told us what has always happened to the moneys derived from the increase in pump price by successive government. A few individuals are growing fat on the so called subsidy. They buy petrol at a much cheaper rate (subsidized rate) and divert them to neighbouring countries to make more gains why queues at filling stations continue to linger.

The country remains the only oil producing state in the world that imports refined petroleum despite the fact that it has 3 standard refineries that are supposed to take care of the local demand. The resurgent queues for fuel at filling stations remain an incurable malady. The billions of dollars purportedly spent on providing subsidy are enough to make our refineries functional and stop importation of refined products. But the will power to do that is just not there.

Apart from being blessed with crude oil, our natural gas reserve is enough to take care of the financial needs of some countries that do not has these endowments. But today what do we see? Our gases are flared with impunity by multi-national oil companies, with the dwellers in the Niger Delta suffering from one form of respiratory ailment or the other. Rain water is undrinkable because of its acidic nature due to uncontrolled gas flaring. Our creeks have been so polluted by oil spillages that the aquatic life is fast disappearing. Some of the fishes have actually undergone mutation and other aquatic organisms are mercury-laden, making them harmful for human consumption.


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