The title of this piece could have well been: Northern control of oil bloc: daddy not our brothers cornered our meat. Elsewhere a title of such would be unfamiliar if not completely surreal to an average citizen for it is not common for people in modern countries to use family terms when talking about politico-economic relations of a country. That, however, is not the case in Nigeria where we have developed a modern state in which those in charge of public affairs are by virtue of their offices considered and regarded as fathers and mothers rather than mere servants and representatives of the country, or at most accountable leaders.
There are times when one struggles to keep a straight face when confronted with the spectacle of fathers of families thumping the chests over their potbellies as someone else’s boys and proclaiming allegiance to their public father, in his presence of course. Amusing scenes apart, one of the dangerous consequences of this mode of conceiving power is that those that get into office are then easily tempted and allowed to exercise power in an arbitrary way up to the point of abusing their roles and positions.
It is in line with this dangerously absurd mode of conceiving power that I suggest we examine the bombshell recently dropped by Senator Ita Enang that 83 percent of oil blocs in the country are owned by northerners. We should, however, hasten to note that the main problem and the ultimate responsibility of such lopsided distribution are not of our northern brothers, but that of those that ruled the country.
Before then, we all, northerners in primis, however, have a duty to understand the deep sense of grievance that this kind of information can provoke in those that come from the oil producing areas and those from other parts of the country that feel shortchanged by this askew distribution. Understanding these grievances needs just a bit of common sense, goodwill or empathy. Those who readily discard these grievances are either in bad faith or lack these basic elements.
Still harmed with our common sense, goodwill and empathy, it is easy to understand that any Nigerian that knows what an oil bloc is will want one, understandably not every Nigerian can get one. The question then is: In a country of millions, who gets the limited oil blocs that all want? The answers to this question from those that have ruled the country are already in front of us.
If those in charge of public affairs in Nigeria were filled with enough republican ethos and devotion to merit the status of leaders or had enough care to deserve the title of fathers or godfathers, they would have before answering such question added more questions and factored in some considerations crucial to the wellbeing of the people and country on whose behalf they profess to rule and manage power. They would have asked themselves why do we need to allocate oil blocs? What do we, as a country, want from this oil? How do we do this allocation in a way that reflects its nature of being a commonwealth? The same people that fill their mouths with the importance of a united Nigeria and introduced the concept of federal character should have remembered and considered that this is a country of different cultures, nations and ethnic groups. They should have remembered that their main duties as rulers are to ensure security, justice and to aid development.
It is obvious our leaders have clearly neither asked themselves these questions nor considered these crucial elements. They have instead resorted to allocating what they should be managing for all to themselves and their friends. To compound matters, the country and the people they rule have little or nothing to show for it. Children are starving and their parents are obese.
The worst offenders in this case are those that had state power and then proceeded to help themselves with what they should be managing and regulating for the common good. Regardless of how common this malpractice is and how many people engage in it, we must say shame on them. Regardless of their performance in office or their method of gaining entry into office, once in power, every dullard, every lackey in Nigeria is guaranteed a place in history textbooks. They are given one of the highest salaries in the world and offered lifelong deference and opportunities in the country, but no, that is not enough. They want economic in addition to political power.
With their greedy and corrupt actions, these people are not only guilty of abusing power, they are also responsible for the desire of many to go into politics to loot rather than serve. They are killing diversity of ideas and aspirations, elements necessary for a dynamic and prosperous country. It is because of the way they manage power that we have a weak middle class have fewer professionals proud of their skills and confident that with their ability and hard work they can make it in Nigeria without connections or godfather.
We shall be deceiving and destroying ourselves if we limit this to a North vs. South matter. What have they done for the North in whose name they loot? Everywhere in the country people are feeling the same pains. It is a matter of leadership and accountability not geography or ethnicity. Today it is oil, tomorrow it may be contracts, electricity or nominations. These rulers called fathers are the ones cornering our meat.