Monday, June 20, 2005

The Issue of Resource Control in Nigeria...Common sense has become scarce

Update July 12th, 2005
Common sense failed to prevail today as the National Political Reform Conference came to a close in Nigeria. The conference's recommendations were adopted in the absence of the delegates from the south-south region of the country. The south-south is predominately the Niger Delta- the region where the bulk of Nigerian crude oil is extracted. Delegates from this region walked out of the conference when their call- a 25% derivation formula in sharing the nation's revenues, be increased to 50% within the next five years- was blocked essentially by the majority northern delegates. One of the recommendations adopted is an increase in the level of derivation from the present 13% to 17% for oil producing states. Sham!

Read more, here and here



Resource control is about equity in resource allocation, exploitation, and utilization. It has always been a bone of contention in the Nigerian polity, now it has polarized delegates at the Nigerian national political reform conference

Obviously, the issue of resource control means different things to different people in Nigeria. To the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria- the minorities of the former Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria, it is a noble cause worth dying for. To other far away communities, it evokes negative images that should at best be suppressed.

The Niger-Delta has suffered colossal loss of human capital compounded by extensive environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration, and quite ironically, it is one of the least developed regions of the country, according to Joel Bisina, the founder of the Niger-Delta Professionals for Development . He is from Ogbinbiri - where people live on the “floor of poverty”. This town like many other Niger Delta towns, is only accessible by boat, there are no schools or medical facilities. Bisina's mother had to send him away at age 6 so he could obtain formal education. The continuation of social injustice against these Nigerian minorities presents a huge risk to the Nigerian nascent democracy, and must not be encouraged. You might wonder isn’t this a case of simple common sense?

Then why are some against the principles of fair share and equality? Why are some so eager to suppress voices of reason, but rather sweep issues that pertain to national survival under the carpet? Is it fear or plain ignorance that has robbed these people of their common sense? Do these pimps, this eccentric, egocentric cabal realize the consequence of their collective lack of common sense is the perpetration of environmental degradation, poverty and hopelessness among people that have already been pushed well against the wall?

Bisina’s vision is to co-create a safe environment for peaceful co-existence, and help reduce conflict by getting youth away from violence. It seems many frustrating and challenging days await the “Bisinas” of the Niger-Delta. They all need our prayers.

On a lighter note, here is a “little treat” I received from BRE, who first spotted this graphical narrative of the Nigerian society on the Kenyan Pundit blog , and he was kind to forward it to me. It is an exhibition held at Southern Illinois University back in the year 2002 titled "Other Africas: Images of Nigerian Modernity". Please take a look.