How is it possible for Africa’s leading producer of petroleum to run short of fuel to power its motor vehicles, airplanes and even to keep open hospitals and key businesses? In conventional thinking, this should not and could never happen.
Yet it has happened all too often in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and one of its richest, thanks to its vast petroleum reserves.
The primary reason for this, we strongly believe, is corruption and a seeming lack of love and respect for country on the part of many unscrupulous Nigerian businesspeople. It is these unprincipled and ruthless people who firmly believe that increasing their fat foreign bank accounts is more important than the welfare of the suffering Nigerian masses, the economic, industrial and financial success of the country, and its respectability among the comity of nations.
Why do we say that? For these Nigerian fat cats, it is nothing short of an anathema (atrocity, disgrace) for Nigeria to have efficient and effective petroleum refining companies in which the country can refine its own oil and make it readily available to Nigerians and other peoples in the West African sub-region.
The world knows that Nigerians are among Africa’s most intelligent, dynamic and progressive people. Nigerians are also aggressively entrepreneurial. That is why you find many Nigerian women with Bachelor and Master’s degrees selling market. These dynamic women ask themselves, “Why go stand in line looking for a job when I can make my own money and be my own boss by running my own business?”
Most multinational corporations with branches in Nigeria are run not by pale faced foreigners, as we see everywhere in countries like Liberia. The offices of these multinationals are run by Nigerians—why? Nigerian Immigration, Labor and Commerce officials and institutions, unlike ours in Liberia, SERIOUSLY enforce the macroeconomic policies established by the Nigerian Federal and State governments.
There is no fooling or joking around with this. If you want to do business in Nigeria—any business—it must be run by Nigerians and you must have Nigerian partners.
This is why yes, you do find some rich foreigners in Nigeria, but you can be absolutely sure they are not alone. No. There are millions of rich Nigerians, too, who have a very serious stake—indeed the lion’s share—in their economy.
But why are all these positive and real attributes not reflected in Nigeria’s prime industry, petroleum? Why have there not emerged serious minded Nigerian investors who can successfully run petroleum refineries?
After all, following the collapse—due to persistent and unconscionable mismanagement of the national airline, Nigeria Airways—several Nigerian entrepreneurs have emerged to start successful regional airlines that effectively run the sub-region.
Among these are Arik, MedView and Dana Air, all of which are wholly owned by Nigerians.
So why are Nigerian entrepreneurs not manning the petroleum sector, too? Do they think they can make more money importing petroleum products? If so, then what about the fate of ordinary Nigerians—not only those whom the refineries would employ—but also those who must suffer the constant, outrageous and unexplainable indignity of standing in endless lines searching for petroleum that God has generously deposited beneath Nigerian soil and waters?
We pray that the new Nigerian President—who history tells us has been in that office before—will make the efficient operations of ALL Nigerian refineries his number two priority. We say number two because we know that NUMBER ONE is defeating the country’s murderous menace—Boko Haram.
And more besides, let President Mahammadu Buhari, when he takes office tomorrow, faithfully promise and swiftly fulfill that promise to the Nigerian people that NEVER AGAIN will they have to suffer and endure this monumental, embarrassing contradiction of being oil-rich, yet still enduring the indignity and agony of scrounging (begging) daily for oil.