The resource control protectionists

Niger-delta-mapMany people need all kinds of surgery here in the South south. I see them come to solicit money in Catholic organisations such as St. Vincent De Paul, on the roads and other public places and they groan without hope.

Situations like these are not the same everywhere. Take eye-cataract cases in Australia, for instance. Ophthalmologists reckon you will see well once you get the cataracts removed. But if, cataracts only limit 39 per cent of vision, it means that your vision loss does not qualify for immediate cataract surgery.  That percentage is not enough.

Once you qualify there’s a waiting period for surgery…unless you’re in a private health fund or have thousands of dollars for private treatment.

There’s a very long list of people who qualify need all sorts of surgery … all waiting lists are long under the Australian “free” healthcare system. People who can afford private health cover are treated almost immediately.
‬ Life-threatening situations are treated in a timely manner without consideration of costs. Procedures like cataracts, etc. are treated as “elective surgery” – meaning they are not life-threatening.

As soon as you qualify for surgery, qualified health personnel will get the receptionist to look at hospital waiting lists and get people on the shortest list but the surgery will be free.‬

Do we have services in any critical sector of the South south working efficiently since 1999? Why do people feed me with apocryphal stories that resource control is the answer to all of the problems in the South south? And the media known for telling the truth helps to propagate it. People who idealise political correctness are quick to join issues with folks who suggest that insecurity takes business away from the Niger Delta.

The decision to locate the $1.5 billion ship repair facilities (for the maintenance of a wide range of oil and gas related vessels, as well as large LNG carriers), to Badagry, Lagos State, by LNG instead of Port Harcourt as hoped, generated so much controversy recently. And part of the reason adduced was the need for a location, “which provides the best technical balance of factors including access to deep water, good ground conditions, local workforce, free trade zone, transport links, access to suppliers and contractors, in addition, the perceived attractiveness of the location for ship owners and investors was taken into account.”

It is in the public domain here that students are asked by WAEC invigilators during examinations to pay between N500 to N1, 000 for every paper students undertake without which they threaten not to submit scripts of the student who paid legally to complete WAEC examinations. Yet no one raises a protest, because parents and school officials are complicit

It appears that the Delta isn’t attractive for business today. Capacity for many businesses remains undeveloped. Fish consumed in the Delta are largely imported despite access to open rivers and seas, and it’s the same story with many agricultural activities. Magnates and conglomerates that employ thousands no longer exist unless their interests lay in oil.

In the South south there is an entrenched culture where students abandon schools in which they were nurtured up to the WAEC period to go and register for the same examinations as external candidates elsewhere so they can be allowed to cheat and pass the examinations there. The principals, without regards to the carrying capacity of their schools, and for the sake of the mercantile spirit, admit them.

It is in the public domain here that students are asked by WAEC invigilators during examinations to pay between N500 to N1, 000 for every paper students undertake without which they threaten not to submit scripts of the student who paid legally to complete WAEC examinations. Yet no one raises a protest, because parents and school officials are complicit.

What I see here is that those in charge of public affairs lack the humility to learn the ropes, to understand the relevance of developmental models for change. Does it not bother them that despite the war in the DRC that mining of minerals goes on unabated? How does this happen there but not here?

How many have bothered to explore non-oil sectors like tourism, manufacturing etc., to boost internal revenue and per capita of the citizens? Where lies the sanctity of resource control?Resource control, however important, is not as important as having a strong security posture, bringing government closer to the people.

Administrators who shout the most about resource control disempower local councils, most have caretaker council chairmen instead of elected council chairmen until the expiration of their stewardship. Monies for development are sent as a favour to council bosses who cash such funds as they deem fit and repair to administrators sycophantically.

How do countries that practise the unitary system of government manage to be great? Mind you there are not up to 20 states in the world that defer to federalism, the rest are unitary states. Take Indonesia, for instance, a unitary state, she sells us food, foot wares, electronic appliances and more despite having had a history as checkered as Nigeria.

Indomie food is produced in Nigeria by an Indonesian manufacturing company. There are more than 20 Indonesian companies, from manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food to plantations, consumer products, doing businesses in Nigeria. They even have thriving airline maintenance facilities in Indonesia that Nigeria and many countries have had cause to use in maintaining airplanes from time to time.

Indonesia has a higher population than Nigeria (270 million), with many more tribes than Nigeria (700 tribes), like Nigeria has fought wars, hers were of liberation (Dutch and Japanese forces before and after her independence), fought against insurgency and despite all of these challenges, she has done well for herself. Indonesia today is the 10th largest economy in terms of GDP. She has grown the middle class in her country to about 70 million people.

Indonesia has a higher population than Nigeria (270 million), with many more tribes than Nigeria (700 tribes), like Nigeria has fought wars, hers were of liberation (Dutch and Japanese forces before and after her independence), fought against insurgency and despite all of these challenges, she has done well for herself. Indonesia today is the 10th largest economy in terms of GDP. She has grown the middle class in her country to about 70 million people

Indonesians aren’t worrying over systems of governance. Like Nigeria, Indonesia was ruled by military leaders for decades up until the resignation of Suharto in 1998. Post Suharto, she has had a retired military officer rule her and many others stood for elections. They have had the good and the not-so-good times but have chosen to strive for the good times. It’s evident in their economy.

If Indonesia and many other countries with exclusive federal powers, can turn their economy for the best for everyone then why the cri de coeur for resource control in Nigeria?
Poverty, real and imagined, can be countered only with the provision of financial sufficiency to the people and not by rhetoric. It takes big-picture leaders with deep distaste for the retrograde quagmire of under-development to achieve this whether it is in a unitary or true federalist state.

States call for resource control but lack a strong defence strategy to protect her citizens, and I wonder how economic prosperity will be enhanced. We do not even know what became of the Aluu 4. It is taking forever to get justice for the dead and their families. The system has beaten the average man to the dust. We can’t call ours a society…there are no rules. Everyone is a predator and everyone is a potential prey.

What the South south needs is leadership to guarantee that our children live in peace. Free from the fear of kidnappers, militancy and all social malady.

We need leadership that strengthens the real family values we were taught by our forebears, to run errands for the aged, to love our neighbours and look out for their interests, to strive for the best competitively in school, to go after bigots promoting hatred and resolutely fighting the war on drugs, so we can have a safe neighbourhood and happy families.

We need leaders who, despite temptations, refuse to sully the office they hold and appreciate electioneering periods, but must know that when campaigns are over, great men don’t badge the opposite party dishonourably, do not have conflict of interests but work assiduously to develop the state for the benefit of all.

But this cannot be achieved without a diagnosis on the lack of governance capacity, in the South south which by the way should be sect-orally and not all about oil.
• Abah, teacher and writer lives in Port Harcourt
Nigeria. 08023792604; 07035017922; @abahsimon1



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