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Sokoto Oil Venture: Epitome Of Misplaced Priority

Sokoto Oil Venture: Epitome Of Misplaced Priority

 “Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge”- H.G Wells

Like H.G Wells rightly posit “futility” is nothing far from a mission without direction. A journey without definite destination is nothing but a waste of time and energy. In relations to the Nigerian state, it is nothing but cluelessness, lack of focus and pure misplacement of priority.

In the usual hypocritical way and inability to outgrow ethnic and identity politics cum administrative malady, Governor Aminul Tambuwal visited President Buhari last week to discuss the utopian agenda called search for oil in the Sokoto Basin after countless fruitless ventures for decades.

The most recent of this venture was greeted with tragedy in the Lake Chad Basin where over 48 lives of oil exploration workers including 18 soldiers, 15 Civilian JTF members alongside five university staff and four NNPC drivers, were lost to the deadly Boko Haram terrorist group.

It is sardonic to realize that Nigeria leaders still find it difficult to separate governance from the “African style of politics.” They fail to acknowledge that politics isn’t a synonym to crisis and immortality. In its real sense, politics doesn’t connote greed, negligence, corruption, religious bigotry, and other illicit activities. Politics is about ensuring a common good.

Of what effect would this mission be on our economy? What would be its future advantage to our nation when the accessible scarce resources are squandered? While other nations are making waves in technological advancements in all aspects, Nigeria seems to be retrogressing on a daily basis.

How do you justify the search for oil with huge funds where previous efforts had invalidated such move in the past coupled with the government’s preaching on economic diversification having claimed that the nation’s dependence on crude spelt doom? The fall of crude oil price in the global market is expected to have taught us a great lesson but have we learnt anything?

This is a country where government claims to be short of money to pay workers’ salaries. A nation where majority of its citizens cannot even afford more than one meal in a day, and we are talking of spending billions of naira on finding oil by force in the North. Isn’t this an obvious misplacement of priority?

On the first hand, the adventure can never be in the interest of the masses but rather a move to siphon government’s funds to enrich some individuals or ‘cabals’. For how long are we going to continue to embark on this kind of journey that Nelson Mandela once described as “long walk to failure”?
Tambuwal claimed that efforts to exploit oil and gas around the Sokoto Basin began in 1957, adding that the discovery of oil in the Delta which is easier to exploit, led to a shift in focus to that of Niger Delta, information he said he reliably gathered.

Sincerely, political search for oil will never find a single drop of producible oil in those basins. The Chad basin has been repeatedly prospected for oil for well over three decades at great cost to the NNPC and in turn the country. Up till date, no oil has ever been found in viable or commercial quantities.

Are we going to continue to sit and watch the supposed clear headed leaders compromise our future and waste our commonwealth on a futile agenda all in the name of searching for “a sheep that isn’t lost” called oil when in the real sense it is simply ethnicity and ethnitization of governance? Nothing can dilute the indisputable fact that the continuous search for oil where there is vestige of none exposes President Buhari and his cohorts as leaders with parochial sensitivity.

It is no more news that with globalization and technological breakthroughs where electronic  auto mobiles are now in existence will make Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and other petroleum products less lucrative because there will be very little or no demand and patronage by international communities.

For a country that is in an economic crisis largely because of its dependence on oil, and given the public push for a drastic upscale of diminutive non-oil sectors of the economy, how is the pursuit of oil in the north now our national priority?  When are we going to begin to think differently? Is it not this same government that boasts every day that they want to diversify the economy from oil that now is busy plotting to drain billions on wildcatting which is nothing but outright gambling?

The  former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili while speaking at the  “civil engineering conference in Abuja recently has predicted that” Nigeria will be forced to ‘drink’ her fossil fuel unless its continued grip on crude oil was brought to an end.”

Ezekwesili explained that major oil producing countries at the moment were diversifying from their dependence on the commodity while Nigeria looked adamant to the development.

It is intellectually apposite to conclude that this new venture will only end up with wasting our scarce and highly needed funds which we should be deploying in other sectors to strengthen our economy, especially empowering our unemployed graduates to be engaged rather sitting and waiting endlessly for miracles.

If the aim of this proposal is to leverage on developing the northeast region as feigned by our leaders, why is the government not focusing on leveraging Renewable Energy, Manufacturing and Agriculture in the region? These sectors are much more sustainable and capable of creating shared development and a rapid one too rather than the wild goose chase for oil in our present economic circumstance.

As disclosed by experts, with an average solar irradiation of 2,400 kWh/m2, the Northeast region is one of the areas in the world best primed for investment in Solar power which would undoubtedly solve the region’s worst-in-the-country power situation on one hand and that of the entire country on the other.

Closely aligned to power generation is the manufacturing sector, and for a region that borders four other countries there are few better places to cite a manufacturing hub for high export gains and extended market opportunities.

Why are we not talking on massively investing on radically reversing the water loss of the Lake Chad to curb the current high hunger and poverty rates across that region, reignite economic growth and development and put more people to work than planning on draining the huge sums of money in search for oil- a venture that is at best, mere gambling?

However, we must understand that we cannot wish geology into place, irrespective of the amount of politics and supplications to God in the churches or mosques. That we have portions of Chad Basins in Nigeria does not mean oil must be in our own section. Even in the oil-bearing geologic Niger Delta, it is not all sections of the region that bear oil notwithstanding that they all have in full the same stratigraphic setting.

This mission as far as all liberal-minded Nigerians are concerned is a misplaced priority even to the affected region but politicians would not agree with this because they are engrossed with sentiment and selfishness. Even the so called experts or technocrats particularly the NNPC people who are duty bound to educate them seem to be the partners in crime.

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