What is Nigeria worth beyond oil and gas? – Niyi Akinnaso

Published:20 Nov, 2012

What is Nigeria worth beyond oil and gas? – Niyi Akinnaso

There are two approaches to this question. Those who focus on Nigeria’s potential and, therefore, see Nigeria’s glass as only half full, will tell you that the country remains a “great” one (a self-delusion that once characterised our rebranding slogan). But those who focus on the perpetual wastage of Nigeria’s potential, and, therefore, see the country’s glass as half-empty, will tell you that Nigeria is a “failing” (if not “failed”) state. The ruling class belongs to the first group, while the vast majority of the population belongs to the latter.

Those who belong to the latter group are not denying Nigeria’s human and natural resources as well as her fertile land and agricultural potential. They are not even denying what Nigeria’s ruling class has been able to accomplish since independence. What they are saying is that Nigeria’s future has been seriously compromised by a myopic and corrupt leadership, fixated on oil resources to the neglect of other natural resources as well as human and agricultural potential. The consequences would have been more tolerable had oil and gas revenues been judiciously expended for sustainable development instead of being repeatedly looted. What is left is a country in crisis on all fronts. Hubert Ogunde’s “Yoruba ro’nu”, a lyric composed following the Western Nigeria crisis of 1964-65, could now be adapted for Nigeria as a whole.

But don’t be surprised that, in consonance with typical Nigerian leadership culture, the ruling class, always eager to protect its self-interest, might consider this discussion unpatriotic. However, such a negative view ignores Nigeria’s relative under-development, mass poverty, and the varied experiences of millions of suffering Nigerians. Moreover, it ignores the perception about Nigeria held by the international community. Anyone in doubt about Nigeria’s freefall should consider the following facts.

First, given enormous natural and human resources, Nigeria’s progress has been painfully too slow since independence and it has all but stagnated since 2006, a significant year for three reasons. One, that was the year former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term plans fell apart and the politics of succession began, leading to the imposition of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua on the country. Two, Yar’Adua turned out to be a lame President on account of an undisclosed terminal illness. The looting of the treasury during his administration put the country in financial abyss, which was worsened by the global financial crisis of 2008. Endemic corruption has prevented Nigeria’s full recovery, despite rising oil revenues. Today, virtually every branch of government has showcased more cases of corruption and grandstanding than substantive achievements. Three, as I will discuss later, 2006 was also the year Nigeria fell into the “Alert” category on the Failed States Index.

Second, rather than make progress, the country has fallen even further below standards, especially in corruption, infrastructure, and security. True, corruption affects our lives but it does not directly take our lives. But poor or inadequate infrastructure and insecurity often do. Thousands die on the country’s decrepit highways just as thousands lose their lives and property to terrorists, armed robbers, kidnappers, and pirates. For the first time in the country’s history, an internal terrorist organisation, typified by suicide bombings and shifting targets, has been in competition for state power for about two years, forcing the government to enter into third party negotiations, none of which has been successful so far.

Third, fractures have intensified along regional, religious, and ethic divisions. To complicate matters, the elite is also fractured, often along these divisions, on how to solve the problems facing the country. There are indications already that these fractures will intensify even more when the next presidential election comes around in 2015. But these fractures are not new. They were responsible for the fall of previous Repubics and the rise of military coups. They even once led to a full blown civil war. What is new is the form these fractures have taken in the last two years; the intensity of competing claims along fracture lines; and the government’s fumbling approach to the ensuing problems.

The cumulative effects of these shortcomings are illustrated daily in poor infrastructure; inadequate health facilities; declining educational outcomes and standards; rising unemployment; growing food insecurity; erosion of values; and lopsided distribution of political goods in favour of the ruling class and its allies.

If Nigerian leaders fail to acknowledge the sufferings and complaints of fellow citizens, they should at least ponder the reaction of the international community, especially as revealed in three major international indices, all pointing toward a failed state.

First, for six years in a row, the 2012 Failed States Index, which ranks countries on 12 social, political, and economic indicators, puts Nigeria in the bottom “Alert” category as the 14th country in the world that is most likely to fail. Once again, Nigeria falls into this ignoble category some war-torn countries, such as Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq belong.

Similarly, Nigeria ranked very poorly on the latest Corruption Perception and Human Development Indices. After countries worldwide were ranked on bribery, kickbacks, embezzlement, and the strength and effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts, Nigeria emerged near the bottom at 143 on the 2011 CPI. Given all the corruption scandals within the past year, the 2012 CPI (due out on Dec 5) is likely to be worse.

On the leading indicators that affect citizens’ well-being, the Human Development Index also has bad news for Nigeria. In a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living, and quality of life for countries worldwide, Nigeria ranked at 156 in the bottom category of  “Low Human Development”.

Of course, Nigeria can boast of its high ranking as the tenth largest oil producer, owner of the tenth largest oil and gas reserves, and the sixth largest oil exporter in the world. She can also tout her ranking as the seventh largest country on earth. However, Nigerian leaders’ failure to capitalise on these positive rankings in transforming Nigeria into a “strong and virile nation”, as envisaged by the founding fathers, continues to make the Nigerian glass half empty.

If the oil and gas industry were to suddenly collapse, what would Nigerian leaders do to sustain the country’s teeming population? This is a thought they should begin to entertain as many countries worldwide are working harder and harder on developing alternative sources of energy. Economic profligacy should end and the diversification of the economy should begin in earnest. Otherwise, the Nigerian glass will continue to fall below the half mark until it is completely empty.

– Niyi Akinnaso

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Manchester United’s Mourinho needs to play attacking football – Eto’o

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho needs to keep playing attacking football, his former Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto’o has said. Eto’o played under Mourinho at Inter when the club won the Treble in 2010 and also worked with him at Chelsea in 2013-14. Success in Italy was built on a solid defence — something Mourinho has become strongly associated with — but this week he praised the “beautiful, attacking football” he feels United are playing. Eto’o told Telefoot: “Jose has changed a...

Yemi Alade, Falz, Tekno make Future Awards nominee list. [See Full List]

Ahead of the 11th edition of The Future Awards Africa, which holds on December 18 in Lagos, the organisers have unveiled the 2016 nominees. The nominee list was contained in a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES. Top Nigerian music artistes, Yemi Alade(27), Falz(26), Teckno(22), Kiss Danielz(23) and Mr. Eazi(25) will compete...

Ignore dubious adverts, no sale of JAMB forms yet – Official

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, JAMB, has urged the public to disregard the speculations that it had commenced the sales of its application documents for 2017 UTME by some group of persons. The board’s head of media and information, Fabian Benjamin, debunked the speculations in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, on Sunday in Lagos. According to the statement, the registrar of the examination body, Ishaq Oloyede, has expressed disappointment with the development and called...

Obasanjo’s Challenge Of Buhari By Sonala Olumhense

As one who firmly believes that one Olusegun Obasanjo squandered the finest opportunity of any Nigerian leader since independence, I have often criticized him. Between 1999 and 2007, he could have transformed Nigeria into Africa’s most developed, most productive and most functional economy.  The records show that he compounded the situation, and then handed over to his handpicked successors who made matters considerably worse. That led, inevitably, to the arrival of one Muhammadu Buhari, who had sworn for years Nigeria...

Revealed: 40 Reps, 5 Senators Parade O’ Level certificates

A peek into the qualification details of the members of the National Assembly by Daily Trust on Sunday reveals that a staggering number of the parliamentarians got elected with Ordinary Level certificates during the 2015 general elections, a development that leaves doubts on the capacity and quality of legislation in the 8th National Assembly. A total of 45 federal lawmakers who got elected into the Nigerian parliament during the 2015 general elections to represent their various constituencies across the...

Atiku, Tinubu, Makarfi Converge Over Formation Of New Mega-Party

Barring any last-minute change of plans, the proposed mega opposition party in the country will be formed before the end of March, 2017, SUNDAY PUNCH has learnt. It was gathered that the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party and aggrieved chieftains of the All Progressives Congress had intensified efforts aimed at forming the party since the result of the Ondo State election was released. Findings showed that besides the plan to form a new mega party, those involved in the...

Money Laundering: Ex-Lagos Speaker, Aide File Appeal At Supreme Court

A former Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Ikuforiji Sabit Adeyemi, and his personal assistant, Olabode Alade Atoyebi, have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, challenging a Court of Appeal judgment that recently ordered their re-trial on money laundering charges. In their separate notices of appeal, the duo’s lawyer, Barrister Abiodun Onidare, is urging the Supreme Court to set aside the whole ruling of the Appeal Court. In their filings, the former Speaker and...

OGFZA extends regulatory control to more oil & gas FZs

The Oil & Gas Free Zones Authority – OGFZA has begun the process of implementing the provisions of its enabling law and Federal Government directives ceding regulatory control of all Oil and Gas Free Zones in the country to OGFZA. In a letter dated 17 November 2016 to the managing director of Lagos Deep Offshore & Logistics Services Limited (LADOL) and the managing director of Snake Island Integrated Free Zone (SIIFZ), the chief executive officer of OGFZA, Mr Umana...

Police arrest two for allegedly hiding money abandoned by fleeing robbers

The Lagos State Police Command have arrested two men for allegedly stuffing N1.5 million abandoned by fleeing armed robbers into their private parts. Adegoke Adewale and Ganiyu Idowu were caught on Thursday evening by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, the police said in a statement on Sunday. The police said they were in hot pursuit of three armed robbers who had allegedly snatched N3 million from a yet to be identified bank customer in Oshodi. The suspects, whom the police...

Nigeria turns to Pakistan, China for war planes, helicopters, others

Concerned about global politics surrounding procurement of sophisticated arms from western countries, Nigerian Air Force is expecting arrival of war-planes and helicopters from Pakistan and Russia to boost its fleets. The Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, made the disclosure at a breakfast briefing with editors of online media in Abuja at the weekend. Mr. Abubakar said: “I want to say that we have been enjoying support from other countries. (Sometimes arm procurement) is shrouded in a lot of politics. Unfortunately,...

Super Falcons stars celebrate 8th African title

The Super Falcons players have continued in their celebrations after they won a record eighth African title in Cameroon on Saturday. The AWCON 2016 top scorer, Asisat Oshoala, Francesca Ordega as well as Courtney Dike have all expressed their delight following the lone goal victory against the Indomitable Lionesses on Saturday in Yaounde. Desire Oparanozie’s solitary strike in the 84th minute was enough to help the Falcons to their eighth African title. Oshoala who won the Golden Boot award having scored six...

SERAP wants Nigeria’s Attorney General, Accountant General jailed

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has commenced committal to prison hearings against the Federal Government; Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; and Ahmed Idris, Accountant-General of the Federation “for having neglected to obey the order of the court made on Friday the 26th of February, 2016, requiring them to provide SERAP with up to date information on the spending of recovered stolen funds since the return of democracy in 1999.” The information ordered to...

APC wins Lagos by-election

Nurudeen Akinwunmi, candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Saturday defeated his opponents to emerge winner of the Ifako-Ijaiye Federal Constituency bye-election in Lagos. The returning officer of the election, Clement Aghatise, made the declaration at the INEC office in Ifako-Ijaiye Local Government, minutes before midnight. Declaring the winner, Mr. Aghatise said that Mr. Akinwunmi polled 7640 votes to defeat his closest rival, Babatope Akinyele, candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, who polled 1771 votes at the poll. According to him,...

CBN denies allocating dollars

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has denied reports from some quarters that it allocates dollars unilaterally. A statement by Isaac Okoroafor, Acting Director, Corporate Communications on Saturday in Abuja, decried the way some Nigerians chose to disparage those in leadership at this time in total insensitivity to the larger interests of the Nation’s economy. He added that the CBN had set up an inter-bank foreign exchange market where anyone who wishes to buy foreign exchange could bid for and buy...

About 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily – NACA

At least 500 Nigerians die of HIV/AIDs daily, with an average new infection of 600 people every day, says Sani Aliyu, Director General, National Agency for the Control of AIDs, NACA. Mr. Aliyu gave the figure during an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, about HIV/AIDs, aired on Saturday night. He said although the country has achieved great heights with the support of government and the international community, a lot of help is still needed from private individuals to address...

NEMA takes food to Nigerian refugees in Cameroon

The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said on Sunday that it has conveyed a total of 1,460 bags of assorted food items to the 80,709 Nigerian refugees that were forced by Boko Haram into Cameroon. NEMA had said that at least a documented 240,000 Nigerian refugees had fled into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in the wake of Boko Haram insurgents’ rampage and seizure of communities. The relief agency had last week said in a report that it has recorded the return...

Borno records 512 new HIV cases in IDP camps

The Executive Secretary, Borno Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, BOSACA, Barkindo Saidu, says 512 new cases of HIV infections have been recorded in Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps in the state. He spoke on Sunday in Maiduguri while briefing journalists. Mr. Saidu said that the cases were recorded after voluntary screening in some IDP camps in the state. He pointed out that two out of the 512 persons were children. “We are currently conducting voluntary screening on HIV/AIDS in IDPs’ camps across...

Gowon, Obasanjo, Shonekan, Osinbajo grace Villa Chapel thanksgiving

The Aso Villa Chapel on Sunday organised its annual end of the year thanksgiving with former Heads of State, Yakubu Gowon, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan in attendance. The service which took place in the chapel was also attended by former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, former Chiefs of General Staff, Ebitu Ukiwe and Oladipo Diya, and host Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. Vice President Osinbajo said the service was an exciting time to thank God for all he had done for the...

Nigerians in U.S. celebrate Trump’s appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi

The Nigerian community in U.S. has lauded the appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump into his Economic Advisory Team, saying it could signal a positive trend for Africa. The Nigerians told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria in New York, that Mr. Ogunlesi has been an excellent ambassador for Africa and Nigeria in particular. Michael Adeniyi, former President of a Nigerian U.S.-based group, the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians Inc., told NAN that “Bayo Ogunlesi...

Buhari to attend security forum in Senegal

President Muhammadu Buhari will attend the Third Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa in Dakar, Senegal, from December 5 to 6.   The Forum, convened by President Macky Sall of Senegal with support from the African Union to discuss security-related challenges on the continent, will be attended by African leaders and representatives of regional and international organisations.   President Buhari is scheduled to participate in the Panel of Heads of State on Tuesday, December 6.   The President, who has identified improved...

Two Nigerians Create Epic Fight Game Based On African Mythology

There has never really been a space for African mythology in fantasy realms, and that’s why projects like these – ones that tap into Africa’s rich culture – are always welcome.   Creative artist, Akdogan Ali, and programmer, Umusu Samson Iruo, decided to embark on a journey in creating a video game that will showcase Africa to the world: Throne of gods.   (Photo: Throne...