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|Oil Found In Kogi State by Nobody: 12:56pm On May 28, 2012|
By San Nda- Isaiah
Tomorrow, President Goodluck Jonathan will have spent one full year of his four-year mandate, and, unless you do not live in Nigeria or you live in Dokubo-Asari’s or Edwin Clark’s make-believe Nigeria, the report card should be pretty straightforward: President Jonathan’s first year has been a total disaster and a complete failure. I wish I could find harsher words that could present the true picture of the situation.
Jonathan took over at one of the most trying periods in this country’s history. The nation had been without a leader in charge and so many people who pretended to have the support of President Yar’Adua, who was already brain-dead, looted the treasury dry using the president (Yar’Adua) as a bogeyman. The ailing president’s cronies who constituted themselves into a criminal cabal forged his signature severally to steal money and resisted all attempts to invoke the relevant sections of the constitution that was clear about the removal of a president in those circumstances. Billions and billions of naira was stolen during this period that lasted for more than six months. Eventually, Yar’Adua died and Jonathan took over.
But since Jonathan became president, the theft of the nation’s commonweal has been in trillions of naira. Only petty thieves and pick pockets still steal in billions. In fact, what is happening under Jonathan is not just stealing but sheer madness and wickedness. Fuel subsidy looting that used to be between N250 billion and N300 billion annually since Obasanjo’s kleptocratic era became N2.6 trillion in just one year of President Jonathan. The pension fund theft still beggars belief.
The sheer heartlessness of it remains unfathomable, yet the president is not in the least outraged. Just as we were still processing that, the Malabu-gate scandal broke. On that, too, the president has been silent, just as he has been on the N2.6 trillion fuel subsidy-gate. Obasanjo and Yar’Adua pretended throughout their tenures to be fighting corruption; Jonathan doesn’t think he should waste his time at all pretending.
The president has never uttered the word “corruption” either in the positive or negative sense. It doesn’t appear to be an issue to him. Unlike Obasanjo who calls people thieves, rogues and armed robbers and then proceeds to steal more than these armed robbers, Jonathan is too polite to use such derogatory terms on people. Because our president is such a very compassionate person, the thieves actually hold their committee meetings not too far from his office in Aso Rock. That must be the only thing that can explain the theft of N2.6 trillion from a single unit of government and the president would not be aware or even be part of it. No one has so far directly accused the president of being part of it, even though the theft actually took place about the same time as the elections. Ditto for the N155 billion Malabu oil scandal that also directly involves his government and probably his office. All these are only the few that we are aware of.
And then there is the crude oil theft that is currently going on with a vengeance. The government puts the estimated theft at about 200,000 barrels per day but even that cannot be true. It is either the government lacks the competence to know the amount that is being stolen daily or, as usual, has decided to lie about it. The theft is more like 500,000 barrels per day. And it is simple to know this. Before the theft got out of hand, the nation was nearing the production and sale of 2.6 million barrels daily but it is now just about 2 million barrels per day.
But if the government tells us that the Niger Delta militants have surrendered their arms and has given that as the reason for the huge expenses on the amnesty programme, where then did the thieves get the arms with which they are committing armed robbery on the nation’s oil? And, by the way, isn’t Tompolo, the president’s personal Niger Delta militant, supposed to have been awarded the contract of securing our maritime space? Or is the contract supposed to provide cover and protection for the oil thieves? Some of us are not sure anymore.
And now talking about Tompolo: we cannot assess Jonathan’s one year in office without discussing the very critical Tompolo factor. Tompolo has undoubtedly become the most powerful figure in Jonathan’s presidency. He is, in fact, more powerful than all the principal officers of the Nigerian state, including the vice president, Senate president and speaker. He is also infinitely more influential than E.K. Clark, the grand old man of the Ijaw nation. Tompolo is the leading member of President Jonathan’s brain trust. Unlike other noisy Ijaw nation operatives like Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and E.K. Clark, Tompolo doesn’t talk. He only tells the president what to do.
He holds court with the president and ministers, and heads of agencies are in grave trepidation of him. A mere altercation between a head of a parastatal who is Tompolo’s boy and nominee and his supervising minister, who of course was supposed to be his boss, recently led to the immediate re-deployment of the minister to a less strategic ministry. It has been said that the minister was only lucky not to have been dismissed. Tompolo has his own nominee ministers and several appointees. The ex-militant is also the man who is so powerful that the president would actually give him a contract to take over part of the job of the Nigerian Navy.
It speaks volumes of the president’s understanding of government that a “former” militant who had taken up arms against the Federal Republic of Nigeria and has also been involved in the theft of oil is today the person that is in charge of the nation’s maritime security. Should we be surprised that, since Tompolo took over our maritime space, the theft of crude oil has reached such a scandalous level? Let’s even forget the other rumours making the rounds about the real motives behind giving Tompolo that kind of contract. I am sure the country can take care of itself when that time comes.
Should it then astound anyone that the president has not been able to achieve anything in the last one year? There is no way any president can achieve any results with the kind of savage thievery that is going on. Should we be amazed that our hospitals, roads, schools and other infrastructure continue to be in such a shambles in spite of all the money the nation is supposed to be earning? If we consider that the total amount of investments that have been achieved through MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat in the last 10 years is just slightly over N1 trillion, then, we can appreciate the opportunity cost of the theft of N2.6 trillion from one unit alone. With just N1 trillion, see the number of jobs and the growth that was created in the telecommunications sector. Imagine that, of this N2.6 trillion stolen, N1 trillion effectively went into agriculture, another N1 trillion into education and the balance was ploughed into the health sector; imagine the difference this could have made. Because of these serial thefts, the government is no longer able to meet some of its basic obligations as at when due.
It used to be that Nigerian governments were unable to implement their capital budgets. Under Jonathan, even recurrent expenditures are falling behind schedule. These days, even salaries are not paid as at when due. The president is also just about to open a new battle front with most of the major Nigerian newspapers over non-payment for services rendered. During the fuel subsidy protests, Jonathan’s government, through some of his friends, in desperation, placed several wrap-around adverts in Nigerian newspapers worth at least N1 billion. Nearly six months later, the adverts have not been paid for in spite of the weekly lies that the newspapers are constantly being fed with by those who placed the adverts. If Jonathan would court the wrath of nearly all the major newspapers over non-payment of an obligation, then, the situation must be very bad indeed.
The insecurity in the last one year is actually worse than what many countries witnessed in a state of war. And, instead of the president to face the matter squarely, he has allowed his apologists to excuse his incompetence on the grounds that his enemies (read northerners) had promised to make the nation ungovernable if they did not win the presidency. I wonder how he would have been president without votes from northerners anyway. Apart from the Boko Haram phenomenon, armed robbers now use grenades and bombs and the government cannot even locate where these grenades are coming from. Or, maybe it is his northern enemies that supply the grenades to the armed robbers.
It has entered our history books that the first bomb ever to be detonated in Abuja, the nation’s capital, was under Jonathan’s presidency and the president’s first response was to defend those who claimed responsibility for the bombing. That was totally beyond the pale. And, as I write this piece, no one has been brought to book for that. Nobody has been punished for the hundreds and hundreds of deaths in the last one year.
The president’s failure will only get egregious as long as he does not change his lukewarm attitude towards the madness in the theft of public funds that has so far solidly defined his presidency.
In an interview last week, Nasir el-Rufai, a CPC top brass, said he fears that this republic may not get to 2015 because of the madness that is going on and the incompetence associated with President Jonathan. The president is most likely going to consider this as the ranting of an opposition politician. But that is the fear that even some of his best well-wishers have been expressing behind his back and have only not been courageous enough to voice out. The president needs to change his attitude towards governance fast for the sake of all of us.
Oil Found In Kogi State
In the past few weeks, I have been crying my heart out over the need for the federal government to do more about the exploitation of oil in the other sedimentary basins of the country. I have argued that, from the facts available, there is oil or gas or both in the Chad Basin, Sokoto Basin, Upper Benue Trough, Lower Benue Trough, Bida Basin, Anambra Basin and Dahomey Basin in addition to the Niger Delta Basin which is the only one that the nation currently pays all its attention to. It is in the precincts of some of these sedimentary basins that other countries like Chad, Niger Republic and Benin Republic have found oil. What this actually means in plain English is that there is oil or gas or both in all the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Well, it would appear that some of the things some of us say are beginning to make sense after all. Only recently, Orient Petroleum made a case for an oil block to be allocated to it on the grounds of its commitment to constructing a refinery. The company was allocated an oil block at the Anambra Basin, which probably in the government’s estimation was not supposed to be a good oil block. Now Orient Petroleum has found oil at the Kogi State side of the basin, precisely at Ibaji local government area. Ibaji therefore becomes the first LGA in the north to hit oil. It took a private company to achieve this.
This only means that, if we are serious as a nation, we should start paying more attention to all our sedimentary basins. No wonder a director of Shell declared, a few months ago, that Nigeria could produce four million barrels of oil daily, instead of the current 2.5 million if we were serious. We need to start running our country properly.
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