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OPINION: Nigeria New Oil Fields And Economic Recovery

By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

The oil hub of Nigeria,  presently concentrated  in the Niger Delta,  is constantly faced with unrest and militancy. This is a major economic region  for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and a major source of foreign income. Because the region has been dogged by unrest and disruption from militants seemingly  demanding for a fairer share of revenue, the entire economy has been subjected to both this internal unrest and global fluctuations in the price of the oil commodities. In addition to unrest in the region there are frequent reports of pipeline attacks and unknown number of illegal refining, called locally as bunkering, which have made recorded output far below what OPEC ‘ s allocation to Nigeria. Therefore the hope of Nigeria’s continuous reliance on oil revenue for its economy, especially from the Niger Delta region’s crude earnings, has been depleted drastically by this domestic untest, the slump in global prices and the discovery of new technologies in energy productions. The future of the hirtherto  black gold economy, and where OPEC used to be dominant, remains  fluid, uncertain and demanding new economic models for countries like Nigeria

Following this  incessant Niger Delta unrest various economic sectors have been looking for other options including new oil fields and economic diversification. There are reports of the availability of several oil fields in Nigeria notably in Lagos, Sokoto, around Lake Chad, amongst others. Development and production are at different levels in these new fields, some only at exploratory stage, or at refinery building stage, others at actual production stage. In fact it is no longer speculation in Lagos oil field where Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Co Ltd is at work. Similarly the Northern Nigeria Development Company, NNDC, is at an advance stage in her effort to join the oil production states in Nigeria through their efforts in Lake Chad areas.  By the first quarter of 2017 it is hoped that significant productions may be recorded in some of these new fields. The real argument is not more of new oil fields, because of regional agitators, but rather fashioning a new and a robust economic model to head off regional agitation and provide jobs for our youths in a healthy and competitive economic climate. Nigeria may need new oil fields but not because of reasons other than economic empowerment of each region in a united Nigeria.

Unfortunately the 16 years of PDP was probably spent sharing national wealth and pleasing godfathers and godmothers’ appetites.  They were never probably concerned about a possible raining day. Nevertheless the past can be put to rest by a proper National Probe and Punishment Board, while the nation moves on. Already, the APC government of President Buhari can also be accused of not doing enough to improve the economic environment because after 15 months in office. For example, the biggest index of economic recovery, unemployment,  is still running high. Famine and cash scarcity are being predicted to happen by December 2016. The blame of how we get here is in several folds; the non – unified effort of the three arms of government on a particular focus, the inability of government to identify which essential area(s) of the economy to bail out instead of doling huge amount of money to failed states, the ministers who are attempting to please President Buhari not to see them as corrupt instead of taking decisions that could assist the economy and it’s people. We need to state here that Ministers only need to  carry President Buhari along by convincing him thoroughly; that is the Buhari we knew in 1984. His ministers are independent but they need to carry him along. Our President is pricipled but people and programme oriented. He is failure  shy too;  whereas life is risk taking with failure a possible outcome. Pleasing Nigerians is pleasing Buhari, hence ministers and advisers should take informed decisions for the people rather than godfather’s opinion in their daily pursuit. Perhaps it is time to ask godfathers to unmask and be people oriented.

It was encouraging when the rice production programme was lunched in Kebbi State at the onset of the administration of president Buhari with the backing of Nigeria Central Bank. We had expected a similar programme replicated in other regions  and other economic sectors. We could have programmes for cassava,  palm oil,  cash crops, cotton and fabric industries, mining etc. The money already given out to failed states could have been sufficient. It should be iterated that  the  states got to where they are for their on private agenda, possibly corruption and wrong priorities of governors. They should be allowed to swim the ocean on their own or be drowned.

A more glaring problem besetting the APC administration is not just our suspecting unpreparedness to govern but a gross lack of unified approach to rule by the three arms. In this we would like to fault Mr President again for claiming to “belong to no party but belong to every party”. He belongs to APC and was elected by APC. Hence it was either that he got his own choices to lead the houses or he calls in the choices of the houses and securing their unalloyed cooperation. Once you are in politics you are in it, and if you want to be an Imam or a Pastor, be one. It is not too late to call the leadership of APC in the national assembly to order for national service. It is not also too late or too dangerous to ask the “government within a government” to do some restraints for the sake of the nation. Our thesis is that should APC, PDP, and others decide to cooperate the Nigeria economy will grow much faster. All hands need to be on the deck, and campaigning for 2019 should wait till we get there.

The ministerial  team select by Mr President is brilliant on the surface but heterogeneous on in – depth analysis. They were simply contributors to either Buhari’s or APC emergency, whereas the nation needs focused and problem solvers, not ego seekers. The team is brilliantly selected because in truth most of them are success stories as individuals. If the nation has great expectations from the administration it is simply because of the Buhari’s myth rather than his ministers, each of who also qualifies to be president. It shouldn’t be so. We should like APC either because of its president, or its appointees, or both.

Therefore the newly found oil fields may assist in reducing agitation but it will only lead to more global slum. If anyone has any connection with the Niger Delta agitators they should be advised to fight for regional consolidation auprove. States should not be forced to move at same speed by dragging some down or forcing others to overspeed.

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi


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