Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Salvaging Nigeria from oil curse

Salvaging Nigeria from oil curse
By Bayo Ogunmupe

EVEN while we cry out loud for mercy, how on earth can, in oil rich Nigeria, life be this short, brutish and nasty? In an August edition of The Economist, Nigeria was dubbed the world’s capital of oil theft.
  Thus, unlike other petroleum producing countries where oil products become missing, Nigeria’s oil custodian the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) does not even know how many barrels of oil we produce monthly. The Federal Ministry of Finance put the figure of stolen oil and illegal bunkering at 400,000 barrels per day while the Joint Venture Operators estimate the loss to 180,000 barrels per day.
  If we rely on official figures, it means Nigeria and our operating partners are losing a cumulative estimate of about N6 billion per day. This translates to an estimated N2.1 trillion per year. Experts suggest that forms of oil theft range from local tapping of pipelines to very organised and sophisticated thievery perpetrated at the export terminals. But everything remains guess works that is shrouded in mystery.
  In 2008 during the G8 Summit in Tokyo, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua likened stolen oil to blood diamonds which exacerbates corruption and violence in Africa. Despite the rhetoric of fighting oil theft, the menace seems to be growing in sophistication. Recently, the Joint Task Force fighting oil theft in the Niger Delta reportedly destroyed 3,778 illegal refineries and seized eight vessels, 120 barges, 878 Cotonou boats, 178 fuel pomps, 5,238 surface tanks, 606 pumping machines and 626 outbound engines belonging to oil thieves in the first quarter of 2012. However, who are these thieves? The level of sophistication being deployed for successful operations and export point to very powerful Nigerians who can play behind the scene roles to sustain the large scale larceny.
  Commentators allege complicity of high profile politicians, former and serving generals, militants and former oil company workers. The helplessness shown by regulatory oversight functionaries leads observers to reckon that there could be some collusion and connivance by government officials. Also, there are international cartels who operate ships illegally. These illegal cartels operate on high seas to transport stolen oil and push same into the global market.
  Apart from the huge revenue loss estimated earlier, this illegal trade has done great damage to the environment due to oil spill. Until recently, the multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria had not being concerned about the rate of oil theft. That was because it did not cause them any economic loss. Government knows export figures only. It dared not bother about what happens between the well head and the terminal. That is the black box that harbours the crude theft phenomenon. Even at the export terminal, there are allegations of topping cases.
  In the absence of production data therefore, multinationals currently pay taxes and royalties based on available data, not on production figures as stipulated by law. And there is no one to enforce that law. The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) recommended the installation of meters both at the flow stations and at the terminals in line with international best practices. That recommendation has been frozen by vested interests in government.
  At current royalty rates: 20 per cent for onshore and 18 per cent in case of offshore on every barrel produced, companies are expected to remit N1.2 billion daily on the 400,000 barrels currently lost to thieves.
  With precision meters at the flow stations, it becomes the responsibility of the Joint Venture Partners to bear the economic burden of ensuring that the oil is policed safely to the export terminal. This is just one of the ways to eliminate oil theft in Nigeria.
  Next is the issue of illegal refineries. There are allegedly, thousands of them scattered in the nooks and crannies of Niger Delta region. Those who engaged in these dangerous business complain that they have no other choice. It was upon that assertion that the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, suggested to a House of Representatives’ Committee that these illegal refineries should be bombed. We agree with him.
  Adding to that is that part of the one billion dollar U.N clearing money for environmental pollution in the Niger Delta should be used in creating interest free small-scale industrial loans to the people of this area. Another step in reducing oil theft is the deliberate overhaul of Nigeria’s security system. Since we are under policed, we should increase our police force from 300,000 men to one million. The use of contracted global West vessels to combat pirates in the Delta is reprehensible. Government should use the Navy to combat oil theft. Government could also sign surveillance agreements with the British Navy to assist us in combatting piracy.
  A modern method of combatting oil theft is to finger print, crude oil to identify its originating fields. This technology-intensive method should be adopted to check oil marauders. Besides, the authorities should prosecute arrested oil theft offenders. This failure to punish offenders is encouraging the crimes. This confirms allegations that powerful people, nay government officials are behind oil theft, which is why they are frustrating the prosecution of oil thieves.
  Much has been written in recent times of how Ghana has beaten Nigeria on many fronts notably in politics and in crude oil production. While hydrocarbon was discovered in commercial quantities in Ghana only in 2007, Nigeria was already close to five decades of shipping crude oil abroad. Today, Ghana produces 120,000bpd in her jubilee field. The lessons Nigeria can learn from Ghana’s successful management of her oil resources are legion. Ghana’s phenomenal production advancement puts to question the stagnation in Nigeria’s oil output.
  It is noteworthy that Nigeria has been stagnant on 2 million bpd since Yakubu Gowon era in the 1970s. Like most of other African countries, resource curse, also known as Dutch Disease is bedeviling the Nigerian oil industry. Resource curse is a paradoxical situation whereby the natural resources endowment of a nation ends up constituting setback to a country rather than bringing positive impact to her. Nigeria was better off in the 1960s before our attention shifted to oil. But unlike Nigeria, development economists affirm that Ghana is bettering Nigeria in evading oil curse.
  Unfortunately, the stagnation in our development caused by oil curse notwithstanding, the Boko Haram insurgency has exacerbated our security problems. The sect gives a divided impression of its capacity and observers point to there being different groups, operating; some more ideological than others who may have less spiritual reasons for their wars. Boko Haram is a symptom of a dysfunctional Nigerian state which turned our oil wealth to oil curse. This bastardisation of governance is attributable  to intellectual weakness, the poverty of ability which has kept us from producing great people, great leaders across the board in spite of our oil wealth.
  Jamaatu Ahlis Sunna Liddawati Wal Jihad means People for the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad. Thus, Boko Haram is a misnomer. It did not cross the mind of those who coined the name that people cannot offer to die in order to stop the spread of knowledge.
  Coining the name is symptomatic of our penchant for mendacity, deception and corruption. Our jejune approach to issues led us to killing the organiser of Boko Haram – Mohammed Yusuf instead of interrogating him and locating his reasons for rebellion.
  We are aware that Boko Haram’s call for the creation of an Islamic state draws from a tradition of radical Islamic fundamentalism dating back to the Sokoto Caliphate, the maitatsine movement of the 1980s and the Nigerian Taliban of 2002. These Islamist groups have limited support among the people. But they are acting in the context of widespread poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and inaccessible welfare from the government. These circumstances have created the space for these groups to operate. Worse still, state security agencies have compounded the people’s insecurity in such states as Bauchi, Yobe, Borno and Taraba. The way to address this phase of oil curse, is to find a political strategy to whittle down the insecurity and the militarisation of society by adopting the amnesty programme of the Niger Delta militants. We believe amnesty programme for all, for the unemployed, the Boko Haram insurgents and the Okada Riders is the solution to the unrest from Nigeria’s oil curse. A full employment plan for all who want to work is the lasting solution to Nigeria’s crises of Boko Haram, Natural disasters, flood, unemployment and the oil curse.

Winning As the Ultimate Goal

On The Path Of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
Winning As The Ultimate Goal
IN order to gain financial freedom, winning should be your ultimate goal in life. Thus, in your pursuit of excellence, never rely on secondary sources or hearsay evidence as to how to win. Life is a school, so be an open-minded skeptic. You should be open-minded enough to listen to a variety of opinions and sources. Then go to a library or cyber café to check the authenticity of naysayers. If you want to develop a habit of winning then you should be an open minded skeptic.
  Those who own personal computers can expand their knowledge by networking with different data banks which put them in touch with huge national library of information on almost any subject. The software explosion in computers is incredible. The internet is a huge reservoir of information. You can do just about anything with your computer. One of the most disturbing things is people, including leaders, depending mostly on television and a brief glance at the papers for most of their knowledge and inspiration. Knowledge is out there waiting for you. Don't fail to devise your own system for building a knowledge base that will help you win in whatever you choose to do.
  Then, seek out winning role models. When the term: role models, is mentioned, many of us think of it as something needed only by children. Those seeking greatness need them too. Parents are expected to be good role models to kids. So are teachers, coaches, athletes and leaders. Moreover, it is true that children do need role models. Experts have been saying so for centuries. About 300 years ago,  Rene Descartes of France, the world’s greatest philosopher of his time said: “The chief cause of human error is to be found in the prejudices picked up in childhood.” And George Santayana, the famous American philosopher added the comment which bears on role modeling, “children insensibly accept all the suggestions of sense and language.”
  In learning how to win, you need to choose role models who not only are winners but who are also worthy of emulation. But indeed, you need to reject role models who prove by their conduct that they are not worth being imitated in the slightest way. That is why I do not pick Nigerians as my champions. Apart from Afe Babalola, Wole Soyinka and a few others, you cannot find a successful Nigerian who made it honestly. No history of tax returns over decades to prove his riches. He is either a fraudster, oil bunkerer or proxy millionaire fronting for those who defrauded the nation while in power. This is so because Nigeria is an importer of consumer goods. We have no pioneer manufacturers who made their riches like Henry Ford, Bill Gates or Soichiro Honda.
  One of the greatest career boosts that can happen to you is to find someone who represents what you want very much to become and who also is a fine role model after whom you can pattern your own conduct and attitudes. The best role model is someone who most nearly approximates who you are, where you have been and where you want to go. A good rule is choose models you can learn the most from, not ones whom you would like most to be. The ones you can learn the most from got where they are now by overcoming the same kinds of problems you are facing now. Choosing your role models tie right in with building your knowledge base. It is the reason I did a champion at the end of each of my columns.
  One other thought on role modeling can be found in the just for fun quotations like: “How can I soar with eagles when I have to work with turkeys?” The truth in this quip is that you become like those with whom you spend your time. Though you cannot always choose the people with whom you work, but you have some control over people with whom you spend your spare time. Lord Chesterfield, the 18th century British diplomat and statesman, said it well: “We are more than half of what we are by imitation. The great point is to choose good models and to study them with care.”
  After  you have chosen the vocation where you want to excel, you have set reachable goals obtained the right kind of knowledge of  your career, you have chosen a role model; the next step is the idealisation of actions you must take to succeed in reaching your goals. One of the best ways to internalize these actions is simulation. The word simulation means to assume the character of or identity of another person. It is to imitate or come closely to identify with pilots and astronauts as a result of watching the television coverage of projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo or the Space Shuttle of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States. Simulation isn’t a spectator sport. It is a critical skill to be mastered by those who want to be proficient in whatever career they want to excel. Simulation is used in role playing drills to ensure production safety in corporations pilot training by airlines, airforces and in public speaking.
  The keys to simulation are one, learn the techniques of a positive role model. Two, memorize the materials in exact sequence of performance. Three, rehearse the performance until you master it. Four, drill in realistic environments until successful performance becomes second nature. Then ask for critique from your role model, teacher, coach or supportive family and friends. Use their feedback to correct your open world performance.
  Our champion for today is Ruth. Ruth is the protagonist of the Bible Book of Ruth written by Prophet Samuel in 1090 BC. Ruth’s story opens during famine in Israel. Elimelech of Bethlehem crosses the Jordan with his wife, Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. They settle in the land of Moab. There, the sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Tragedy strikes, father and sons die, leaving three childless widowed women, with no seed to Elimelech. Naomi returns to her native Judah. The daughters-in-law set out with her.
  Naomi pleads with them to return to Moab. Orpah returns to her people and gods. But Ruth, strong in her conversion to Judaism, sticks by Naomi. However, the widowed and childless Naomi arrives Bethlehem with Ruth, permitting her to glean barley in the farm of Boaz, kinsman of Ruth’s father-in-law. After the harvest, Naomi encourages Ruth to marry Boaz in order to continue Elimelech’s lineage. Then, before witnesses at the gate of the city of Bethlehem, Boaz buys up the estates of Naomi’s dead husband, Elimelech and marrying Ruth, the widow of Elimelech’s son, Mahlon. Boaz declared his hope that doing so would cause the name of Elimelech to rise.
  Thereafter, Ruth bore a son, named Obed who became father of King David of ancient Israel. The women of Bethlehem blessed Naomi and praised Ruth for being better to Naomi than seven sons would have been. Through Ruth, God preserved the unbroken royal line of Judah leading to David and finally to the Greater David, Jesus the Christ. Ruth was blessed as was Naomi who raised Obed as if he were her own. The lives of these women stand as vivid reminders that Jehovah notices all who toil humbly to provide for their own. God never fails to reward faithful people who earn a reputation for excellence in whatever they do, as did Ruth.

Monday, 8 October 2012

On The Path Of Winners By Bayo Ogunmupe The Secrets of Answered Prayer

On The Path Of Winners
By Bayo Ogunmupe
The Secrets of Answered Prayer

THERE are many kinds of prayers. The prayer of agreement is the best of them. It is our first secret of answered prayer. It is an effective way to speak to the Almighty. Through the prayer of agreement you can effect positive changes in your life, having all your desires met.
  The prayer of agreement involves two or more people coming together to supplicate for one purpose, one need from God. A family prayer is a prayer of agreement whereby spouses pray together to God over a particular need. Such a prayer is easily answered by God faster than one prayed individually.
  Through this prayer, you can resolve issues in your homes, at work or in the country at large. But be sure to follow the rules which say: “If any two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my father, which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, Matt 18: 19-20.” In this form of prayer, you must be two or more in number, then the prayer “touching anything that they shall ask means, the prayer must be specific.
  In addition, you can be certain that you are going to be answered,” And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us, 1 John 5:14.”
  The second key to answered prayer is trust in God which enables Jehovah to bless you. Jesus said: “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you, ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full, John 16: 23.” Sadly, many people don't have faith in God and in themselves, so they look to others to pray for them. But God promised to hear you if you only asked.
  “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, James 5:16.” Jehovah will listen to you only if you are righteous.” The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers, 1 Peter 3:12.”
  The third pillar of the answered prayer is faith. Through faith we understand that God framed, mended, restored and perfected the world. Thus if you apply faith, you can frame, repair, restore and recreate your world according to how you want it. The fourth secret of prayer is diligence. “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men, Prov. 22:29.” “He prayed the most who works hardest” is an aphorism translated from Latin. It affirms work as a form of prayer. The diligent never lacks. “The hand of the diligent maketh rich, Prov. 10:4.” As a businessman, if you are diligent you will prosper and get ahead of your peers and competitors. The scripture says, “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute, Prov. 12:24.” That means the diligent shall always be the boss of the slothful. By faithful and diligently executing your tasks you become great.
  The fifth secret of answered prayer is praying in order to communicate with God. Being in communion with God enables you to obtain God’s full attention. It’s wrong to pray only when we need something from God. Prayer time is a period of rich fellowship with our creator. Through prayer you participate in joyful supplication with God along with other spirit beings in the universe. Being in constant communion with God enables your prayers to be answered without delay. Key six to answered prayer is hard work. “he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent, Pro 28:20.” The Bible says there is profit in all labour (Prov. 14: 23). As you sow, so shall you reap! Those who steal, defraud others or the nation cannot have permanent success. Neither can their wealth be transferred safely to their offsprings. The moneys disappear along the way. “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel, Prov. 20:17.” Riches come through the wisdom of God, therefore, “Labour not to be rich, cease from thine own wisdom, Prov. 23:4.” Embrace God’s wisdom by diligently pursuing your vocation and riches will come to you.
  And finally, the seventh pillar of answered prayer is creativity. Develop a creative mind, a creative approach to issues. “For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, Prov. 23:7.” Paul admonishes us in Romans that we be transformed in the character of our minds. That means you should renew your mind through meditation. Your mindset, the quality of your mind determines your greatness and the promptitude with which God hearkens to your prayers. Mount a garrison over your heart, don't let just anything come in. refine your thinking, pray differently today from that of yesterday. Love what you do. Love your neighbours, for you never lose for loving. Hatred, iniquity and sin hinder your prayers. God does not bless sinners. Don't seek riches in a hurry. Remember, God is always with you. “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen, Matt 28:20.”
  Our champion for today is John Pemberton, the man who formulated Coca-Cola. Pemberton (1831-1888) originated Coca-Cola in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA where he practiced pharmacy. His bookkeeper, Frank Robinson chose the name for the drink and penned it in flowing script that became the Coca-Cola trademark. Coca-Cola is a sweetened carbonated beverage that has become a cultural institution in the United States. It is a symbol around the world of American tastes. Pemberton originally touted Coca-Cola as a tonic for the cure of common ailments. It is based on cocaine from the coca leaf and caffeine extracted from kolanut. The cocaine was removed from coca-cola’s formula in 1905.
  Pemberton sold his syrup to local soda fountains but with advertising, the drink became phenomenally successful. By 1891, another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Candler (1851-1929) had secured complete ownership of the Coca-Cola company for a total cash outlay of $2,300. He incorporated the Coca-Cola company in 1892. Sales and profits soared under Candler’s leadership and in the following decade, plants were established in Texas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Canada. By 1899, bottling and sale of the syrup spread throughout the world. Such sale and licensing system started by Coca-Cola formed the basis of a unique distribution system that now characterizes most of the American soft-drink industry.
  In 1919, the company was sold for $25 million to a group of investors led by Atlanta businessman, Ernest Woodruff, whose son, Robert Woodruff as president and chairman, guided the company for 30 years (1923-55).
  After World War II, Coca-Cola saw diversification in its packaging and in the development of new products.
  In 1946, the company bought Fanta previously developed in Germany. It introduced the lemon-lime drink sprite in 1961 and the sugar-free cola Tab in 1963. Today, products of Coca-Cola company are consumed at the rate of more than one billion drinks per day.

Nigeria’s position among OPEC countries

Nigeria’s position among OPEC countries
By Bayo Ogunmupe

NIGERIA is a major producer of crude oil, the sixth largest in the world. The country is a prominent member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). By virtue of  Nigeria’s position in the global market, the country sits conspicuously alongside other major producers like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Libya, among others, to dictate the tune and trend of world oil production and utilization. Nigeria has held the position of the president of OPEC under Dr. Rilwanu Lukman. That is to say, at one time, Nigeria presided and dictated the affairs of the rest of the oil producing nations in the cartel.
  Based on OPEC statistics, Nigeria has a population of 167.590 million people, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $448 per capita (UNDP is $300). GDP is the total value of all goods and services produced in a country less income from foreign investments annually. The proven crude oil and natural gas reserves are put at 35,255 billion barrels and 4,997 billion cubic meters respectively. The crude oil production is put at 2,166 million barrels per day while the refining capacity is 445,000 barrels per day. Local consumption and export of refined products are pot at 240,000 and 68,000 barrels per day respectively.
  When compared with some other OPEC member countries, there are huge disparities. For instance, the GDP per capita in Algeria is $1,766; Libya is $4,064; Venezuela is $3,463; Saudi Arabia is $9,327; Indonesia is $960 and United Arab Emirates (UAE) is $24,244. These countries manifest glaring opulence, excellent infrastructures, high employment opportunities, better standard of living, and practically absence of poverty in the population. The fact that these countries produce oil is manifested on the streets and the people. The inhabitants of these countries don't grouse over petrol or diesel for their cars; the price paid is negligible in relation to their income.
  It is glaring from the above statistics that Nigeria has the least GDP among the OPEC countries. The per capita income in Nigeria is outrageously low at $300 below the $500 global benchmark. Nigeria is ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world (Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, 2002). What it means is that the purchasing power of an average Nigerian is very low. There is lack of capacity for personal improvement by way of investment. An average Nigerian is not empowered. Access to credit is extremely difficult. There is no entrenched strategy to improve the standard of living of the people. Lack of investment with little or no income leads to vicious cycle of poverty. The inability of an average Nigerian to meet his basic needs makes him restive. Nigerians are constantly aggrieved and in despair.
  For instance, any attempt to increase the price of petrol is always resisted because it is like tightening the belt of the already emasculated populace. Nigerians cannot understand why in their country that produces oi9l, they cannot easily have access to the oil products at affordable price. No amount of political maneuvering or economic preachment would assuage an average Nigerian to believe that the more you produce a product the lesser you have it. This theory does not exist in any economics. Why is it only in Nigeria that this awkward situation exists among the OPEC countries?
  Petro is a macro product. It is a product that directly affects virtually every aspect of daily living. Therefore, tampering with it essentially means tampering with many products and services. Any increase in the cost of petrol affects the cost of transportation and the general cost of living. This in turn affects the price of goods and services; affects the cost of industrial production and further reduces income. The spiral effect leads to inflation; inflation further reduces the purchasing power and lowers the standard of living. The in turn heightens poverty, disease and lowers life expectancy. The life expectancy in Nigeria today is put at 47 years. There is a vicious cycle of poverty that has taken toll on Nigerians. Many have described this as poverty in the midst of plenty.
  Looking at Nigeria and its oil economy, there is nothing to show in the life of the masses of the people that the country is an oil-producing nation. With a crude oil production of about 2.5 million barrels per day and an export of over 2.3 million barrels per day, one would ordinarily expect some positive impact of the oil wealth on the economy and the people. But available statistics prove the contrary. For instance, Nigeria has what has been described as a disappointing level of economic development with a  GDP of about $45 billion in 2001 and a growth rate of 3.3 per cent
  Furthermore, with an average annual investment rate of barely 16 per cent of GDP, Nigeria is far behind the minimum investment rate of about 30 per cent of GDP required to attain a growth rate of 7-8 per cent per annum, required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Given the facts on ground, the economy is presently distorted and is managing to keep afloat. The only saving grace is the increased oil revenue. It is unprecedented that the price of crude oil recently climbed to as high as $71 per barrel and still spiraling.
  By selling at such high price, the country is earning huge revenue over and above its budget. Having benchmarked the budget at $30 per barrel, the country is reaping additional income of over $41 per barrel. This has impacted positively on the foreign reserve. The problem the government is contending with is how to meet the domestic demand for petrol. The problem is there because of the low domestic production of petrol consequent upon low investment in refineries.
  OPEC statistics show that Nigeria’s refining capacity is 445,000 barrels per day. If 40 per cent of the population owned vehicles, there will be about 49.756 million vehicles that would require petrol to run daily. Ironically, the other OPEC member countries with lower population have higher refining capacity. Algeria with a  population of 31.84 million people has a refining capacity of 462,200 million barrels per day; Libya with a population of 5,600 million people has a refining capacity of 380,000 barrels per day; Venezuela with a population of 25.71 million has a refining capacity of 1.004 million barrels per day and Saudi Arabia with a  population of 22.67 million has a refining capacity of 1,864 million barrels per day. The figure is impressive in all the OPEC countries.
  The inability of Nigeria to meet domestic demand for petrol is a serious headache. Over the years, successive governments in the country failed to invest on refineries. There was no forecast of rising future demands of petrol and deliberate attempt to meet the target. As a result, only three refineries were established in Eleme (Port Harcourt), Warri and Kaduna. The combined total output of these refineries cannot meet the rising demand for petroleum products. There is a shortfall of 70 per cent in their installed capacity.
  The problem is compounded by the frequent shut downs and deliberate sabotage of the refineries. The turnaround maintenance of the refineries has been a sham. Recently, Mr. Funsho Kupolokun, the GMD of NNPC stated that it requires a staggering sum of N136.18 billion to revamp the refineries between now and 2007. This is outrageous, as nothing substantial has been realized from the huge amount expended on the previous turnaround maintenance done since the Obasanjo administration assumed office in 1999. As a major oil producing country, there ought to be refineries located at Lagos, Enugu and Jos, in addition to the existing three making a total of six. Besides, there should be some private refineries located in different parts of the country. If these were properly managed, enough petrochemical products would be available. Petrol would be available at affordable price.
  The importation of petrol and other petroleum products smacks of mismanagement and insincerity on the part of government. The argument that Nigerians must pay for petrol at the world market price is deceptive. Where is the principle of comparative advantage that Nigeria produces crude oil? It is difficult to comprehend or reconcile the fact that Nigeria produces and exports oil, yet the people have t pay even more than the people from countries that produce no oil. Can someone please explain why this is so.
The curse of oil
  The saying that oil is a curse rather than blessing for a country like Nigeria is based on the fact that oil wealth has done nothing to leverage the life of Nigerians. Oil has instead brought poverty, misery, pain and death. One can safely say that Nigeria would have been better off without oil. Arguably, Nigeria’s underdevelopment situation could be attributed to the oil wealth because oil is the root of corruption in every sector of the economy. The emergence of oil robbed Nigeria the vision of its founding fathers. Nigeria’s founding fathers never factored oil in the agenda for national development. The oil, all the solid minerals and agricultural products were regional assets. The regions owned 50 per cent of the accruable revenue. The federal government did not own the lion share like today. Nigeria’s founding father placed agriculture and solid minerals high in the agenda of national development.
  But oil has erased all that. Nothing else is working in the country except oil. Nothing else is given attention anymore except oil. Over 90 per cent of the national budget is predicted on oil. Nothing is expected from the other sources of revenue. When the price of oil is high, Nigeria authorities are comfortable. But when there is a slide in oil price, the authorities are jittery. It is like without oil, the nation will collapse. But Nigeria’s quest for nationhood was not predicated on oil. The irony is that despite the very high premium placed on oil, there is nothing to show for it, except corruption and national blight. Some Nigerians pray that the oil should dry up as a prelude to national development. Should such a thing happen, it is government officials that would lose sleep. The ordinary Nigerians would not feel the impact in Nigeria, it is oil, oil everywhere, yet nothing to show.
  This foregoing is given an insight to the paradox of oil in Nigeria. But that is not the main issue of this discourse. Apart from the psychological and material deprivation that Nigerians suffer from oil, the worst, perhaps, is the incessant mass deaths that oil wrecks on Nigerians. I call this the wrath of oil. It is wrath because each time it strikes, hundreds and sometimes thousands of innocent victims perish. There is no doubt that the exploration, exploitation, storage, transportation and distribution of oil are associated with grave danger. Oil pipelines, oil depots, oil tankers and oil facilities across the length and the country have been a source of disasters.
  The disasters take the form of oil spill, pipeline fires, explosions, oil tanker, accidents and fire outbreak from oil storage or sale facilities. Since the 1998 Jesse pipeline fire disaster in Delta State that killed over 1,000 people, there have been several other oil disasters in other parts of the federation. The incidents occur almost on regular basis. Lagos, Edo, Delta, Abia, Rivers, among other states, have recorded gruesome oil fire disasters that claimed innocent lives. Altogether, over 4,000 hapless folks have perished in less than ten years from one type of oil disasters or the other.
  The latest in the series of the oil disasters occurred on Monday, March 26, 2007 in Katugal, Kagarko Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The exact number of casualties from the inferno is not yet known but estimates put it at over 100 villagers, comprising mainly of youths (students) and family heads. The victims were roasted by the fire sparked off by an exploded petroleum tanker that lost control and fell.
  According to reports, the tanker which was fully loaded with petrol and heading to Kafanchan, lost control while negotiating a sharp bend and fell spilling its contents unto the road and the surrounding areas. Within minutes, a crowd of youths made up students, farmers, and onlookers from the nearby Sobo Katugal market, rushed to the scene with bucket, jerry cans and other containers to scoop the spilling petrol, a highly inflammable liquid. Like other Nigerians, they have known oil as gold, a highly priced product, hence the rushed to grab it that very moment. But little did they know that they were running to their untimely death. The traditional ruler of the community, Mr. Daniel Akuso, was reported to have stepped out barking at the youths to get out of the danger zone, but they ignored their ruler and continued to rush the more for the “free gold.” The man left in anger.
  Not long after that, at about 6 p.m., the tanker exploded with a huge fire all and thick smoke. In not ensuing blaze that raged for hours, over 100 people were roasted alive. Several others who sustained injuries were rushed to the hospital. The fire razed everything on its trail. The aftermath is that Katugal, a hitherto sleepy community; was turned into a graveyard. The victims were buried in a mass grave. Disbelief, anguish and sorrow descended on the hapless widows and children who have nobody to fend for them. One Mr. Samuel, Ma??fiya, a primary school teacher in the neighbouring Aribi village reportedly lost his father, six brothers and older sister. The community’s secondary school lost over 39 students.
  The Katugal incident occurred three months after the oil pipeline explosion at Abule Egba in Lagos State claimed over 700 lives on December 26, 2006. Counting back, it is a catalogue of oil related disasters, deaths and destruction, which is what the masses of Nigerians reap from oil. The Katugal inferno occurred and razed lives and property without any intervention from any government agency. There was no police in sight to cordon off the tanker scene of the accident. There were no Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) personnel to control traffic. No fire service. No Red Cross. Above all, there were no National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) rescuers in that vicinity. The fire raged and burnt itself off.
  This kind of incident raises the question of governance. Governments at all levels in Nigeria are paying lip service to governance. There is no program for the rural communities where a large segment of the population lives. The rural dwellers are just in the catalogue as citizens. That explains why such a disaster occurred and no government agency showed up for rescue. From another angle, it is like some states are too large to be governed under the present administrative arrangement. The Katugal village is like an abandoned enclave, where nothing that makes life worth living exists. The General Hospital in the community where the victims were rushed to could not offer help. The hospital did not have light to carry out night duty!
  Since the nation is in darkness as a result of the collapse of the electricity sub-sector, hospitals manage to work during daytime. The Katugal hospital is just there in name; it doesn't render services. There are no drugs and the medical personnel mere represent political interest. If a government hospital could not give first aid to fire victims, is it heart transplant that it would do? That is why Nigerian leaders fly abroad to treat minor injuries? Government officials have no confidence in the healthcare services.
  Furthermore, like the previous accidents in other parts of the country, the Katugal accident also exposed the absence of database of vital statistics in the country. This is a community of rural dwellers who rarely visited Kaduna the state capital. It was impossible for the authorities to know how many people died in the fire because there is no database of the citizens. The traditional ruler had to embark on house to house check of his subjects.
  It is unfortunate that Nigeria is bedeviled with frequent oil disasters of his nature. The national psyche is focused on oil. Every other thing is beclouded. Nigerians have been made to see oil as the most important thing in our national life. Oil has been raised to the status of gold. Petroleum products – kerosene, petrol and diesel are scarce and expensive like gold. That is why wherever there is a leakage of petrol, whether from a pipeline or tankers, there is a mad rush to scoop it for sale. Oil has very high appeal to Nigerians. High unemployment provides willing hands that rush to oil accident scenes but die in the process.
  Nigeria is not the only country producing oil in Africa. Cameroon, Gabon and Angola are also oil producers. Why is it that these disasters don't occur elsewhere frequently as in Nigeria? The absolute lawlessness and corruption in every fabric of Nigeria life is to blame. Elsewhere, oil facilities are treated as dangerous, which only authorized personnel could handle. But in Nigeria, the laws are weak and flagrantly broken. There is no regard for safety. Except the authorities do their job and change the people’s attitude, unfortunately, disasters like this will continue to occur. That is the wrath of oil when mishandled.