‘One Nigeria’: To Be Or Not To Be? (3)

“…Western officials say they hope West Africa, though it has less reserves than the Middle East, may turn into a viable alternative supplier to Europe; already, the area is one of the fastest growing producers of LNG. In West Africa, Nigeria is the uncut diamond: Boasting on- and offshore oil reserves of 35 billion barrels (twice as much as Mexico’s) and 176 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (as much as the United States’), it’s no surprise Nigeria’s energy sector has been courted by U.S. and European officials…”

excerpt of UPI Energy report published April 11, 2008.

“We get our breakfast not because of the benevolence of the baker, brewer and butcher, but because they are pursuing their self-interests.”

Adam Smith. Scottish economist.

excerpt from book ‘The Wealth of Nations” first published in 1776.

“We should engage Russia based on principles- principle is that everybody has the right of choice. Everybody needs and wants to be free.”

Mikheil Shakashvilli. President of Georgia, formerly part of the defunct Soviet Union.

-excerpt of interview on Russian-Georgian tense relations, given in early July 2007.

“… I say again, I’m not anti-Democrat, I’m not anti-Republican. I’m not anti-anything. I am just questioning their sincerity, and some of the strategy that they have been using on our people by promising them promises that they don’t intend to keep. No, I’m not an American. I’m one of the 22 million black people who are victims of Americanism. One of the 22 million black people who are victims of democracy, nothing but disguised hypocrisy. So, I’m not standing here speaking to you as an American, or a patriot, or a flag-saluter, or a flag-waver, not I. I am speaking as a victim of this American system. And I see America through the eyes of the victim . I don’t see an American dream. I see an American nightmare. These 22 million victims are waking up. Their eyes are coming open. They are beginning to see what they used to only look at. They are becoming politically matured. Don’t change the white man’s mind. You can’t change his mind, and that whole thing about appealing to the moral conscience

of America- America’s conscience is bankrupt. She lost all conscience a long time ago. Uncle Sam has no conscience. They don’t know what morals are. They don’t try to eliminate evil because it’s evil, or because it’s illegal, or because it’s immoral; they eliminate it only when it threatens their existence. So, you are wasting your time appealing to the moral conscience of a bankrupt man like Uncle Sam. If he had a conscience, he’d straighten this thing out with no more pressure being put upon him. So, it’s not necessary to change the white man’s mind . We have to change our own minds about each other. We have to see each other with new eyes. We have to see each other as brothers and sisters. We have to come together with warmth so we can develop unity and harmony that’s necessary to get this problem solved ourselves. How can we do this? How can we avoid jealousy? How can we avoid the suspicions, divisions that exist in the community? I’ll tell you…?

excerpt of speech.

II. ECONOMIC FACTOR AND SELF-INTEREST.

Nigeria is not just a forced marriage between the north and the south, it is also an ‘unequal’ marriage in all sense of the word. It is a ‘lopsided’ economic and political relationships in which the south takes upon herself the ‘complete’ finance of the imposed union, but has very little or practically no say neither in how the country is being run nor how the oil revenues are being spent. Saying that the south has not benefited ANYTHING from being part of Nigeria is to say nothing. It’ll be more appropriate to say that the unsubscribed union has robbed the south at least hundreds of billions of dollars; led to the untimely deaths of millions of southern Nigerians; and forced uncountable number of able-bodied, well educated southerners to migrate out of the country due to bad leadership of the north. Without any exaggeration, the south has indeed paid dearly, and is still paying, for the One Nigeria project, which the British have roped her into.

The Niger delta alone, which includes Ondo state, a Yoruba territory, has the largest reserve of oil in Africa, and ranks 8th in the world. By rough estimation, so far, more than $600 billions worth of oil has been lifted from the Niger delta. In addition, Ondo state has the second largest reserve of bitumen in the world. However, the most invaluable resources of the south is not even the oil, gas and other mineral resources, but her human capital. The south with a population of at least 80 million, if we take into account those who are outside the country, has the highest number of specialists in Africa, and even surpasses many western countries. Name any field in science and technology, humanities and human endeavour in general, and I am ready to bet with anything that you will definitely find southerners who rank among the best in the world. At least 90% of Nigerian professionals in Diaspora are southerners. This is our greatest and invaluable asset! The importance of knowledge in the development of any country can not be overemphasized. There are countries like Japan, Germany, France and Italy without any mineral resources, yet are among the 7 countries with the largest economies in the world. Having said this, nevertheless, mineral resources, if combined properly with our human capital, could act as a catalyst or ‘combustion engine’ that will power our economy and accelerate our development.

Before going deep into our analysis, it is important to explain what is meant by economic ‘self-interest.’ Self-interest should not be confused with ‘selfish interest.’ Self-interest is about defending your interests with your ‘own’ resources, and not other people’s resources. Self-interest is about trying to get ‘the best deal’ for yourself with your own resources. For example, when you are negotiating a vacancy, you try to sell your labour, skills or knowledge, which in this case, is your resources, to the highest bidder. In other words, you try to negotiate the best terms or package available for yourself – salary, company car, health and car insurances, refund of travelling expenses, longer holidays, paid maternity leave, payment for professional trainings and courses, payment for mobile phones and international calls, personal secretary, e.t.c. Since labour, like all other resources, is ‘scarce or limited in supply’ in the sense that, you are an individual with limited number of working hours, which puts a limit on the number of companies that you can physically work for, therefore, you try as much as possible to get the maximum value from it. This is a ‘normal’ and ‘rational’ position. Likewise, if you own a company, and you are negotiating deals for your company, you try as much as possible to get the best deal. But selfish interest is when you defend your interest(s) using other people’s resources, moreover without their approval. Selfish interest is defending your interests at the ‘expense’ of others. Selfish interest is taking over or depriving others of what belongs to them by right. Selfish interest is solving your problems to the detriments of others.

We will be applying this rational theory to the economic relationship between the south and the north. This rational theory approach is appropriate as an analytic instrument taking into consideration the fact that resources, including mineral resources, are limited in supply, therefore, we should not just be interested in trading them, but trading them or exchanging them for the maximum price possible in the free market. Acting otherwise will be irrational, against common sense and unwise. Therefore, we are going to approach the economic and political relationship ‘strictly’ from the position of a ‘shrewd’ businessman who wants to get the maximum value for his products or resources, which are limited in supply, and not from the position of a philanthropist or an altruist. The logic behind our rational theory approach is both natural and based on common sense.

INVESTMENT OR ROBBERY?

So, the 1 billion dollar question is “Why should the south, or the Niger delta in particular, give their limited resources to the north or any other ethnic group for free?” Why should the north, without any preliminary negotiations and agreement, have ‘unlimited’ access to the vast resources of the Niger delta and the south in general? On what basis must the south invest hundreds of billions of dollars in the construction of international airports, universities, roads, power stations, infrastructures, factories, e.t.c. in Zaria, Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Katsina and other northern cities, when they, i.e. the south could ‘equally’ spend this money building roads, airports, power stations, schools, universities, hospitals, infrastructures, e.t.c. for themselves? Why should hundreds of billions of dollars of the Niger delta oil money go into the financing of a new capital in Abuja and the north in general while the bonafide owners of these resources wallow in abject poverty? Do the Yorubas, Ndigbos, Ijaws, Ibibios, Efiks, Itsekiri and other ethnic groups in the south have any cultural or blood relationship with the Hausas and Fulanis to justify their taking of hundreds of billion of dollars of the south’s money for free? To the best of my knowledge, they have ‘absolutely’ nothing in common! Are we to infer then that the Niger deltans, and the south in general, are obliged to finance the north free of charge with their resources just because the British said so? What does the south get in return for her investment in the north? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! And, in any case, shouldn’t the respective ethnic groups in the south be given the right to decide themselves whether they want to invest in the north or not? Why are the north and British dictating to the south where and how to invest their money? Does anybody dictate to the British where and how to invest their money? Again, many people, perhaps out of ignorance, emotion or hypocrisy fail to ask these ‘fundamental’ questions that are of great importance in doing justice to the main topic before us. This is a very serious mistake on our part. We must not take this for granted.

Written by
Bode Eluyera
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