3 August 2014

Nigeria: Abe and Oil Derivation

Lagos — Again the issue of Nigeria disintegration came to the fore last week when Senator Magnus Abe raised the alarm that the threat posed by oil derivation in the country was capable of splitting the country into different parts.

Abe, who represents Rivers South East senatorial district and also the Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum Downstream, said with the way things were going in the country, he did not have the conviction that Nigeria would continue to remain as a united entity.

He noted that the struggle over oil derivation, negligence of other important sectors of the economy and wastages have made life so difficult and unbearable for the citizenry.

"Before I used to be convinced that Nigerians have made up their minds to be together, I don't have that conviction anymore. If we are not careful, this country can blow up and split into different parts over the issue of oil.

"At the end of the day, even those who think they will gain from that will lose. I believe Nigeria will do better as a united, progressive, democratic country, where everybody's right is respected, where people are treated fairly and justly, where if you contribute something you will be rewarded for your contribution and others are encouraged to contribute than bicker and fight and end up destroying ourselves.

"I think the issue challenging this country is beyond the issue of resource control or rather issue of resource generation to run this country. What we are currently having in Nigeria is sharing economy where everybody depends on whatever comes from oil," he said.

In as much as Nigerian leaders have been urged to diversify the country's economy in order to reduce its total reliance on oil revenue and move the nation forward, many Nigerians have also expressed the view that the nation would not disintegrate irrespective of its challenges.

One of those who believe that the nation would not break is Chinua Asuzu, a human rights lawyer. He explained that the country had gone through trying periods including the civil war experience and that with all these, Nigeria has come to stay.

"Nigeria has come to stay, it's not going to break up, it is indivisible and insoluble sovereign state under God. The people who believe in the unity and destiny of Nigeria are more than those who do not. The optimistic patriots out number the pessimistic; those of us who have hope are more than those who have fear. Hope will overcome fear. Nigeria will still go through some difficult times but we will overcome.

"All over the world even the developed nations they passed through difficult periods and survived, we will thrive, we will survive. We had gone through the civil war and we are still one, I believe Nigeria will survive. Those who fear make noise most. Nigeria will grow and prosper," he said.

Former military president General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has also dismissed fears Nigeria is drawing to the verge of disintegration over issues of resource control and attacks on oil pipeline installations in the Niger Delta. For him, Nigeria has paid the price for unity by crushing a rebellion, which could have split the country into several units. The civil war according to him left a mark on virtually every Nigerian family.

"The opinion that people would break up Nigeria is an overrated one as the country cannot break up because it has gone through heavy sacrifice to stay as one country. I believe we fought the civil war in order to keep Nigeria as one country and am sure the war must have affected many families personally as they may have lost a member or property to the war and for that reason no one will crave to break the country," he said.

There is no doubt that oil derivation is generating a lot of controversy presently in the country. Only recently the plenary of the national conference came to an abrupt end after recommendation of 5 percent for the reconstruction of states in the Northern region ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts came up. Indeed some of the leaders at the Confab insisted that the canvassed intervention fund should be for the entire country where such was required.

Perhaps the country should step up efforts in diversifying the nation's economy. Certainly there is no better time than now for the government to fast track the development of the solid minerals sector in order to enhance growth and development.

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