Friday, 23 September 2016

Economy in recession: Niger Delta and its abundance natural resources

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The Niger Delta is not only blessed with oil and gas. She is also blessed with other resources like fish, perewinko, and large fertile land for farming, and you can name it. However, most of these natural resources have not been fully exploited to our benefit due to over dependent on oil and gas. The resource that ought to be a blessing has in turn becomes a curse, hence the fight for it by everybody…from the federal, state and local government up to the community and individuals level. Many communities in the Niger Delta have fight and destroy themselves either fighting for land that oil is being discovered or that individual fighting themselves for monetary benefit perceived to have been given to one person by the oil companies operating in their land. Sometimes, these issue of divide and rule tactics have caused great disaffection among community members with its attendant effects.

Right there on top, the federal government held sway, never want to focus on any other things except oil. The oil and gas revenue had made the central government very attractive to the extent that every politician wants to get there by all means possible. It has assumed where national cake is being shared. It is like elephant meat where you can cut, no matter the quantity; the meat will still be there. Little did Nigeria realize that, elephant meat irrespective of it size will get finished if wisdom is not applied in the sharing. When the oil was booming, little did our leader realize that the boom will not continue, hence the spending without reservation. Today, the reverse is the case, oil price has crashed to its lowest price to $48/barrel and the government of President Buhari is lamenting on shortage of fund to finance the 2016 budget. Even at that price, the oil production has dropped to its lowest point from 2.2million to 800 thousand barrel/day. The drop in production is been attributed to militancy in the Niger Delta.

The 2016 budget passed in May this year is not been implemented due to drop in revenue with its attendant effects. Unemployment is on the increase, inflation is very high at double digit at about 16%, the subsidy on fuel has been removed which has also impacted negatively on general price of goods and services, the scarcity of foreign exchange…the naira is currently exchanging for N428/dollar. In all these, the economy has been officially declared as in recession and even heading to depression. The federal government is now waking up from their slumber. The governments want to diversify the economy through agriculture. How serious is the government? Are they just going to pay lips service to it? It is normal to share allocation every month and this has become too easy to all the arms of government, that nobody want to look elsewhere to generate revenue.

I traveled to a community in the Niger Delta in Bayelsa and I was amazed to see the type of fish one of the fishermen came back home with. He told me that one of the fish is sold for N3000 and that a smaller size is sold for N1500. He said, as far as fish is concerned, you can eat fish to your satisfaction and even gets tired of it. That he makes close to N30000/day from the sale of fish. However, he said that the community is not conducive to staying…and that there is no water to drink, no power supply, no teacher to teach the children in the school and that they are just enduring the living there because they don’t have other place they can call their own. He said that irrespective of the money they get from fishing, many of the community members have left the village for city.
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The question is…if this community is developed by given the social infrastructures that make life worthwhile, will the people leave their community? NO of course! The president is believed to have good intention for Nigeria; the people want to see this translated into action. The unemployment ravaging the youths should be reduced by creating enabling environment that will encourage the youth to in their respective community to do what they know best…fishing, crop farming, those with vocational training should have power to do their work, health faculties should be made available in communities and personnel encourage to stay and work in the rural areas, teachers posted to these remote communities should also be encouraged. When all these are been put in place, the community members would want to stay in their place thereby reducing pressure on the cities.

Importantly, our leaders should cultivate the attitude of selflessness. When this spirit enters into our leader, the Nigeria will be a better place for all of us. Of recent Mr President launch a social program ‘’Change Begins with Me”. As good and laudable the program maybe, will it succeed? Or will it be regarded as one of those in the past? Nigerians are waiting for our leaders to lead by example. Once this is observed by the subject, it becomes easier and practicable for this good program to thrive in the society otherwise ‘’Change Begins with Me” will become one of those word which doesn’t make sense to the ordinary citizen.

Nigeria belongs to all of us and by God grace we’ll all live to see the Nigeria of our dream. What is your take?

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