Oil, Nigeria’s Economy and the Future By Toks Ero
The purpose of leadership in any organized form of government is to have an order for the harnessing of all resources for the benefit and welfare of the citizenry. Leadership comes with responsibilities to the followers; responsibilities to have and pursue a vision that guarantees the peace and prosperity of the nation.
While it is of great benefit for a nation to be blessed with natural resources, it is important for nations to develop and utilize her human resources which is in fact the most important resource. While Nigeria is privileged to possess a natural resource – oil, one cannot appropriately describe Nigeria as blessed. When compared with other nations who possess this same natural resource, Nigeria falls short of expectations. Since oil was first discovered in Oloibiri in 1956, Nigeria has generated billions of dollars of revenue that has neither transformed her infrastructure, nor prospered her citizens or diversified her economy. Analysts at Standard Bank estimate that Nigeria has earned over $1.6 trillion in the last 50 years.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) comprising Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other emirates is a classic example of a nation that has efficiently and effectively utilized her oil wealth to transform her infrastructure, prosper her citizens and diversify her economy. This was achieved by an unselfish leadership that possesses love, vision and a desire and capacity for excellence, qualities Nigerian rulers’ lack.
A nation’s dependence on a single source of income is as unsafe as it is foolish. It is even more foolish when such a source is one that cannot be controlled or guaranteed by the nation. In 2011 at the opening of the 29th Annual International Conference and Exhibition of the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists which held in Lagos, geologists and other oil sector stakeholders warned that Nigeria’s oil reserves may be completely depleted by 2050. Perhaps this fact is what makes present leaders relax that they will have amassed more than enough wealth by then. What happens to our nation post 2050?
While other nations are striving to diversify their economies, Nigeria stays plundering her oil wealth without any concerted effort to sustain and expand her sources of revenue. Western nations (especially the United States) are spending billions on research to develop alternative sources of energy to reduce dependence on oil – the mainstay of our economy and we are doing nothing to guarantee our survival. Since 2008, the US has almost doubled energy generation from renewable sources. The Obama administration has always accorded priority status to clean and renewable energy. The United States Department of Energy received $35 billion for clean technology and energy efficiency funding in a 2009 economic stimulus measure. Since then, they have received funds in billions of dollars annually to support research to improve energy efficiency, biofuel, alternative fuel vehicles, etc. The Obama administration believes that supporting research for alternative, renewable and green energy will lead to a breakthrough in coming years to guarantee energy independence and chart a new course of economic prosperity.
The new challenge is whether our oil will be as valuable as it was in the past or even as is at this time in the coming years. Decrease in the price of oil is an indication of a decrease in value and demand. We are all witness to the free fall of the value of the naira arising from the fall of international price of crude oil.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in his book titled “My Vision: Challenges In The Race For Excellence” stated – “Our distinctive experience in the UAE is a good example of what can be done when God blesses a country with an unselfish leadership that strives for the good of its people and not its own. Good leadership puts the interests of the community as a whole before those of any specific group”.
Nigerian youths of today must rise up to the challenge of being the unselfish leadership that will strive to bring Nigeria out of the doldrums. Past and present leaders have by their kleptomania and profligacy created problems that the youths will continue to bear the brunt of if they do not take up the saddle.
While Nigeria may be confronted by grave challenges ranging from corruption to terrorism, unemployment, infrastructural deficit amongst others, the greatest challenge of one of having a leadership with the vision, desire and capacity for excellence to champion and direct the positive change that Nigerians earnestly yearn for. May God grant our prayers of a peaceful and prosperous future.
Toks Ero blogs @ toksero.org
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