Please God, take away this petroleum from Nigeria

by Ahmed Dodo

Petroleum is a more likely cause of international conflict than wheat.”-Simone Weil

THIS above prayer is a sincere expression from my mind these days, especially anytime this wahala call petrol is mentioned or talked about in our newspapers and other media outlets across the world. To be honest, if not for the necessity of this roguish man-made product, I wish the damn thing never existed anywhere under this sun again.

To me, I am not sure of other people, the discovery of Petroleum Motor Spirit PMS in my dear country has rather been a curse than a blessing as being experience by other nations around us. From Angola, Algeria, Ghana, Libya, Niger, to Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, America Brazil, Canada, Norway, Venezuela, and the other oil rich nations across the globe who have been able to use their oil to effectively developed their country, economically, politically and socially. The story can never say to be the same in Nigeria, rated among one of topmost oil producing nations in the world.

Over the decades, since the discovery of this rich mineral resource in some parts of this country, our destiny as a nation has never been the same again. While other thoughtful nations with this essential commodity have been able to harmonize their differences and judiciously spent the resources derived from their oil, my dear country Nigeria is still enmeshed in regional, tribal and religious feud over the product. Year in, year out the pathetic stories of impoverished Nigerians dying from oil pipeline explosion, tanker explosion and oil policy strangulation by the government is now part of what petroleum has brought to us.

Perhaps, no other citizens of an oil rich nation have been subjected to suffering and dying like Nigerians. Every year, it is the same story and scenery of hike in pump price, long queues at our filling stations, unrealistic and ineffective oil industry bill, including over propagated oil reform policy. Oil instead of being a blessing to the people, have rather been a curse. The over dependence on oil revenue by every successive government have set back the hitherto fast development strides of the Nigeria nation, when groundnut, palm oil, cotton, and other rich agricultural products gave us respect and wealth across the globe. Today, the discovery of oil has help built a group of selfish cabal, oil thieves and corrupt politicians. The coming of petrol has set us apart and relegated us behind in other sector of economy. It has destroyed many of our value system, breeds poverty and murdered many of our country men and women, including innocent children. Apart from holding the record of the nation with the most frequently burnt victims of petroleum products i.e. PMS and kerosene, we now carry the ugly tag of the nation with some of the highest gory images of burnt petroleum victims across the world.

Some of the historical incidences and records of many Nigerians who died cheaply from petroleum calamity includes: the June 19, 2003 Ovim village pipeline explosion in Abia state that claimed the lives of more than 125 people, while they were trying to collect petrol. September 29, 2002: Several people died and many more were injured at Akute-Odo in southern Ogun state as a pipeline blows up after they had vandalized it to pilfer oil. November 5, 2001: 15 people died and several sustain severe burns in a pipeline blowup caused by an oil leak at Umudike, in the southeastern state of Imo. July 2001: Refineries at Kaduna, northern Nigeria, and Warri are closed down after an “explosive item” damaged a pipeline in the southern Kpokpo Bay. November 30, 2000: About 60 are killed when a damaged pipeline explodes near the port of Lagos where hundreds of people were illegally collecting fuel. July 23, 2000: At least 40 are killed when a pipeline blows up at Afrokpe village near Sapele in the Warri area. About 15 more die the next day in a second blast in the same area. July 11, 2000: Nearly 300 people died at Warri, Delta state, in a fire caused by a pipeline explosion as they were illegally collecting fuel. June 21, 2000: 28 people died in a fire caused by a pipeline explosion at Okuedjeba, near the southern Warri oilfield. March 20, 2000: At least 50 are burnt alive when a pipeline blows up near Isioma, in southwestern Abia state. February 7, 2000: 17 die in a fire started at a pipeline near Ogwe, in the eastern part of Abia state. June 25, 1999: 15 people are burnt alive in a pipeline explosion at Akute-Odo in southern Nigeria. October 18, 1998: 1,082 people died and hundreds were injured at Jesse, in the southeastern state of Delta, in a pipeline explosion. And just this week, we added another cheap record with the unfortunate sad petrol tanker explosion at Ula-Okogbe, Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State where more than 108 people have been reported dead so far.

Oil was discovered in Nigeria before independence, yet it has brought no meaningful development to the country. Instead, Nigerians are yearly fed only with financial figures running into trillions of naira, and promised various subsidies that never materialized. The discovering of oil has not eradicate the slums and suffering in the places where this rich product has been discovered. From Akwa-Ibom, Abia, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Ondo, and River states, neither has the wealth from this product effectively spread to the other states in the country. The discovering of oil has not made our death-trap roads any better, nor safe us from our epileptic power supply. It has not rejuvenated our comatose railway transport, nor has it revived the past glory of our now dilapidated public schools. The trillions of naira and dollars derived from various oil windfalls has done nothing to the eyesore in our public hospitals, nor put three square meals in various homes across the country. It has not solved the high rate of unemployment, neither has it help breathe life into our dead industries, nor help curtained the high rate of insecurity and crimes across the country.

Why should we pray to continue to have this unfavorable rich product in Nigeria, when what the ordinary Nigeria has derived has been nothing but high price of petrol and kerosene, including daily suffering and yearly oil disaster? Should we pray to have this product in abundance in this country, when some of our leaders in conjunction with greedy oil cabals are still importing same from other nations and milking us dry? Please God, take away this oil that has closed the eyes of our leaders and made them blindly abandon the other rich mineral resources in our rich nation.

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