Yesterday, I saw a headline that read "President Jonathan ORDERS petrol to sell at N87/per litre"
Order? Interesting politics! I mean, it's made to sound like someone suddenly realised a big gap brought about by being in a long haul of a deep slumber and then decided the anormally should end immediately. Really?
Since Shale oil became the buzz word in the energy circle especially around December 2014, well meaning governments across the world have adjusted prices accordingly. Downwards that is (see attached pictures for 8 year historical statistics for the UK - note the items I have highlighted). Why did it take us so long to receive our own share of the good news? And why are we receiving it at the very twilight of Mr President's tenure; 'Morning' of Election?
How long have we been buying petrol for N97 in despite being (erstwhile) one of world's major producers of crude oil? How come the president suddenly ORDERS through his oil minister a price reduction? Ok, all hail almighty GEJ! But could that price reduction have been due to market forces, or something a bit sinister?
My problem is not really in the price reduction or the nature of its political expediency. It supersedes that! that 'Order' got me asking questions. My quest into our future as a country got me into some research. And my find is quite shuddering!
So, I think the one thing we should all be worried about is where Nigeria will stand financially in the next couple of years, in the wake of tumbling crude oil prices. How will the average citizen, currently living under $1per day (or has that changed) will fare in a few years from now.
Reports indicate that the second largest chunk of pump price goes to crude oil suppliers/refiners (http://www.petrolprices.com/the-price-of-fuel.html). So far in that scheme, we currently only play half the part - Crude oil supply (not sure how much involved we are in that supply chain). Our oil refineries simply not working.
Over the years we have become so lazy and complacent that our Nation may well grow very fast from the most prosperous in Africa (a la Oil revenue) to one of the poorest (same route). This is given our past/current shallow level of involvement in crude development; expert prediction that price may free fall to below $40; all these not helped by our outlandish fiscal national lifestyle.
A commodity which in January 2013 sold for $110 is now selling for $57 (http://quotes.ino.com/charting/?s=NYMEX_CL.F15.E) and there's no end in sight to the nose-dive as yet.
Things standing this way, we should all be scared for our future. I agree for once with the current leadership that hard times lurk in the corner. This is very true! Our chief earner's value has halved in market value. What's more, sales volume has almost completely vanished.
In 2012, delivery of crude to the United States (possibly Nigeria's biggest oil client) stood at a little less than 900,000 barrels per day. Compare that figure to total purchase of 276,000 barrels in the entire month of October 2014 (see figure 4).
With this steep slowing to no end, there is no emphasising the economic hardship lying ahead of us as a people in the next dispensation. No thanks to successive governments which have deliberately shunned potentially viable economic alternatives.
As these harsh realities stare us devilishly in the face, one is reminded of an awareness campaign hastily put together by the regime of Sanni Abacha - a supposed inuendo. Apparently targeting our Niger- Delta folks who believe Nigeria mainly thrives on their (Niger-Delta) 'proprietary' product -crude oil.
The campaign had read "By 2020, Nigeria's oil will dry up". It was like a farce and evil wish. But today our oil has not dried up. Maybe it never will. More wells may even be discovered. But sadly, they probably will earn us next to nothing.
Going forward, the question becomes: Where do we look for an alternative? Who will take us out of this mess? The present government has disappointed the populace in so many crucial departments. Basic right to life and property is not assured. It is becoming increasingly difficult to trust politicians generally.
But we need to look inwards and ask where we got it wrong. This predates oil discovery. Truth be told, a country that has no sustainable food basket has no right to life! Agriculture must be revived urgently but systematically too. The understanding must come that the birth/expediency of a project does not mean an opportunity to get rich quick by those 'fortunate' to be in that power corridor at the time.
It is time to develop uninterrupted power supply. This is a massive structure in the bane of economic development. Every government which has attained the people's madate thought this a priority. Sadly, the 'Monster' always emerges victorious in the end. It is important to deal with the corrupt undercurrents 'repudiating' constructive efforts geared towards achieving success in this direction.
Above requires an astute leadership. One whose integrity is infallible. A decisive and nimble character whose body language communicates no shoddy intentions. One with etablished political will and connections to attract good-intentioned investments in all hierachies having sorted Nigeria's security issues. This is the leader Nigeria needs. And the imperative is on us, electorates to bring such a person to power through our votes.
Curiously though, in spite of the massive campaigns going on, there is an awful lot of people who have developed a lacklustre political attitude to the messages being passed by candidates. They simply have no interest in politics.
To these people and everyone indeed (aspiring political office holders and electorates all alike), let it be clear that the treasury may soon become EMPTY - a la Crude Oil/lack of it. In fact, public offices which were hitherto thought to be goldmines may soon start to spew office holders out for its 'unattractiveness'. This may be a good thing. For on the account of balance, deep rooted, non-self motivated love for national development should form the crust of political aspiration. The current reward system does not allow for feasibility of that criterion.
Moving forwards, we must be able to hold our public office holders accountable on the premise of their promises to us. Every promise becomes the Key Performing Index - our tool for appraisal. Our responsibility in this regard must be viewed with utmost seriousness. For we have only endorsed an eventual leader's irresponsibility if we refuse to participate in the process of electing them. Should we shirk our duty, we will emerge even worse off in 2019.
So it is not time to fold arms and see election period as vacation. It is time to read between the lines and adopt/vote credible candidates with transformational strategies to save us from this impending national impoverishment.
Lastly, there is need to prove wrong, other nationals across the world who out of not understanding our illogical ways believe we as a Nigerian people are not yet ready for 'Change'. I do not expect us to get it 100% in February. But we must (through our votes) display the collective will to reverse our lot from the iminent danger we are about to plunge into. We owe the future generation that responsibility.