Rethinking the Ghaddaffi Proposal

By: Idumange John

In any argumentative essay, students are expected to argue for and against a particular line of thought, event or phenomenon. For example in an argument on whether Nigeria
should be split into many countries or remain a single geo-political entity,
Ghaddaffi can say Nigeria should be divided while David Mark may argue that
Nigeria should remain one. In an argument like this, I will always argue that
Nigeria should remain one if I am benefitting from a “United Nigeria”, but I
may argue on the contrary if I perceive that I am cheated or marginalized in a
“United Nigeria”, What is central in any argument is ones ideological
wavelength, perception and interest. We live in a world of interest after all.

A Ghaddaffi that understands that an oil giant like Nigeria is poor may have too many reasons to advocate that the oil producers are not benefitting. With such a mind-set, it
would be trite argument that Nigeria should be split in to as many fragments as
possible. Ultimately, whoever wins the argument depends on the weight of facts
advanced to buttress the argument and the permutations of the moderators ala the judges. In Nigeria, this is what underpins the
advocacy for a Sovereign National Conference (SNC).

I have not had a wink of sleep when I remembered a couple of ago since I remembered that about 44 years after the Yenagoa- Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road was initiated, people from my
Senatorial District cannot go home by road. It is difficult to explain to the
children why a very prolific oil producing area could be criminally
marginalized and denied basic physical infrastructure. The drama of the road
became more worrying when the cream of the intelligentsia embarked on a protest
march to Creek haven to convey their displeasure about the neglect of the road.

The great trek by Professors Youpele Beredugo, E.J.Alagoa, Kingsley Alagoa and others was symbolic in more senses than one. First, it is an indication that forty years
of diplomacy and dialogue has failed to yield results. Secondly, it
demonstrates government’s insensitivity to oil producing host communities.
Thirdly, the neglect of that all-important road in an area that has vast
agricultural potentials and huge reservoir of oil and gas. In some sense, it
also shows the lack of seriousness on the part of the leaders in the area, who
could have long embarked on civil
disobedience or better still protest by breaking a few pipe lines to
drive home their grievances. The nation has short-changed a people who
contribute a lot to the economic health of Nigeria. In some sense, the area has
also contributed to the high corruption index of the nation because if there
was no oil, corruption in Nigeria would have been minimal in our landscape.

Other roads that were earmarked for construction such as the Lagos-Ibadan High way was constructed years back and has since been reconstructed several times, but the
Yenagoa- Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road has been confined to the trash can of history. The Federal Government has added
to the confusion by awarding the road contract to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
and Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC). This is in spite of the fact
that the NDDC is underfunded and the road requires massive capital outlay. If
the Federal Government wanted the Yenagoa- Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road to be
constructed, it could have been awarded to Julius Berger or any of the
construction giants but this will never happen. The same Federal Government
awards the dualization of Federal Roads to the construction giants like Berger,
Setraco and those owned by the comprador bourgeois.

The Yenagoa- Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road is just one example that has made me rethink the Ghaddaffi proposal. How will I convince the younger ones that Nigeria is one indivisible entity when the
subsisting laws in the in the Federal Republic create a situation of inequality
in the development arithmetic of the the country? How can we see development
when the producers of crude oil have no access to participation in the oil and gas sector of
the economy? Why should we allow these obnoxious laws such as the Land Use Act
and the Petroleum Act to endure when every civilized nation is modernizing among

Every passing day, the centrifugal forces tearing the nation apart are becoming stronger and more conspicuous. The Federal Character Principle is now outdated but in the Federal
Budget, no one gives a thought to equity in the distribution of basic amenities
and infrastructure. We live in a country where some people do not feel safe in
other parts of the country. They are butchered in the name of religion. The butchery
accompanying the insecurity is so intense that the National Youth Service Corps
now faces the threat of been effaced. In a country where national integration
has become impossible, those criticizing President Muammar Ghaddaffi need a

Because of lack of national integration, Nigeria was plunged into a 30 month fratricidal civil war, which unfortunately has not taught us a lesson as a people. Today, Nigeria is the only oil producing country where petroleum
products such as petrol, diesel and kerosene are imported because of politics and lack of sincerity in keeping the
refineries working. Thus, while fuel scarcity has become a monster walking tall
on four legs. Poverty and unemployment are twin scourges afflicting the people.
The National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) only serves the interest of
those administering the programme.

Why will reasonable Nigerians no consider the Ghaddaffi proposal when the youths and the most productive segment of the nation’s population travel to countries that are far less endowed in terms of natural resources, to seek
greener pastures. Today, More than 80 percent of youth (graduates inclusive) is
either unemployed or unemployable. While there is exponential expansion of the
educational system, quality has been compromised hence the school system
produces graduates that can hardly meet the demands of the dynamic,
knowledge-based economy. The emigration of youths to Libya is so disturbing
Colonel Muammar Ghaddaffi wanted to find out how resources are being used in
Nigeria. Nigeria is not industrializing, even as existing industries are
mismanaged and rendered insolvent by self-aggrandizing leaders and economic
fifth columnists. The result is that Nigeria is a consumer nation, which
imports everything ranging from computer hardware, textiles, office pins, touch
light, designer toothpicks, razor blades to killer generators from countries
that were at the same level of development about 30 years ago. This trend is
likely to continue until Nigerians agree on some moral guiding principles
underpinning development and civility.

When Nigeria operated the Regional System, the centre was not very powerful and so regional leaders were able to take development to their people. What looks like development in those places was the result of the Regional
System. It may be
may be true that the Libyan strongman may not understand the ethnic
configuration of Nigeria but at least the spate of religious and ethnic riots
are reported and Ghaddaffi as former Chairman of the African Union (AU) cannot
be daft or insane not to understand the political and economic under currents
of these crises. The resource curse and its accompanying oil war is also given
robust coverage.

In matters of good governance, issues on transparency, accountability and due process have submarined. Under the present dispensation, Nigeria can be described as a neo-patrimonial or hybrid state
that shares all the Characteristics of a
“failed state”. There is a huge private appropriation of public resources
through corruption, over inflation of contract values and misapplication of
sconce resources. The nation is also characterized by clientelism, cronyism and vertical exchange relationships to
maintain power at all cost leading to very weak cross cutting horizontal
interest and relationships. Our politics is still characterized by the zero sum
paradigm, and political campaigns are largely devoid of issues and ideological
underpinning. Neo-patrimonialism or the patron-client relationship is
replicated at all of the political hierarchy. Nigeria’s economy does not fit
into the real “capitalist” mode or the “command” economies, we operate a quasi
capitalism, which regards the state as the primary source of wealth. Thus,
people who hold the levers of political powers capture the benefits accruing
from the economy and then distributes them according to the logic that captures
their fancy. This unedifying system shall endure.

The constitution has aggravated the already existing confusion in the areas of revenue allocation among the three tiers of government; revenue allocation criteria as bases for
equitable fiscal federalism; State and Local Government creation to further
grassroots development. Other problems are boundary adjustments related to
claims of oil wells and other mineral resources; federal character in key
government appointments and distribution of federal projects; the need to
entrench a just, egalitarian and equitable society and good governance. The
situation shall not abate because of systemic corruption that is endemic in the
body polity.

There is naked aggression, genocide and the violent law of the corporate frontier have all conspired to bear out the fearsome dialectics of blood and oil. The power of
fossil fuel and the politics of the capitalist West c** the underdevelopment we
see in Nigeria suggests that oil is thicker than blood. When a blessed nation
is ruined, raped and mangled by self-serving leaders, one can discern the
modesty in Ghaddaffi’s theory. What is actually required is the creation of
four separate countries: the North, East, and Western Regions in addition to
the present Niger Delta. Our leaders should not shy away from the proposed
Sovereign National Conference (SNC) because we may be postponing the doomsday.
Anyone who would challenge this viewpoint should provide a list of Libyan
Youths in Nigeria who are either here to seek employment, greener pastures or
buttress their natural tendency for self-actualization. Ghaddaffi is not only
right, he understands the problems of Nigeria more than the Senate President
and the horde of critics gyrating as patriots.

Nigerians should rethink the Ghaddaffi proposal because all arguments seem to favour a break up. Politically, there is lack of cohesion. Economically, Nigeria is well endowed
but the endowments have not translated into economic growth. Socially, the
various ethnic groups have not coalesced because of the seemingly
irreconcilable differences existing among the multifarious ethnic groups.
Religiously, the differences are as clear as a crystal ball. In the circumstances, it is wrong for Nigeria
to withdraw her Ambassador to Libya. What diplomatic point do we hope to score
by this action. Does Ghaddaffi’s Libya have anything to lose? On the contrary,
Nigerian youths, in their thousands are in Libyan jails and torture chambers. That
diplomatic action is a choreography of what is obtainable in a corrupt,
bankrupt society such as ours, where
leadership thrives on sycophancy and falsehood.

Idumange John is a University Lecturer & Activist

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