Deregulation: Metaphor for Poverty Aggravation-by Idumange John
All fields of study: Religion, Philosophy, Physics, English Language and Biology. In religion there is the belief in good and evil, which corresponds to the concept of heaven and hell. In philosophy terms like morality and amorality are often used as opposites. Physics dynamic as matter or something that is in a state of mobility or flux and inertia as stagnation. In English Language, we have antonyms that is words that are opposite in meaning such as progressive and retrogressive. Biology in its pristine organic concept recognizes the characteristics of living things such as growth, respiration, movement, reproduction and their opposites. God has created the world and given man such a degree of freedom that even death has life as an alternative.
It is therefore ridiculous for the Petroleum Minister Dr. Rilwanu Lukman and his junior counterpart Mr. Odein Ajumogobia to muster up the temerity to deceive Nigeria that the planned “Deregulation” of the Petroleum industry has no alternative. What most Nigerians believe (and I belong to this school of thought) is that the oil industry has had an over dose of deregulation.
During the Obasanjo era the Petroleum Industry was deregulated to the extent that the pump price of Petroleum products was increased for about six times. Again, the same regime sold oil blocs to the political jobbers, cronies and sycophants under the rubrics of loyalty to the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP). The same compradors class that bought over the oil blocs, sabotages the economy by recruiting engaged in oil bunkering. Even the multinational Oil majors are no exception hence it is difficult to know exact how many barrels of oil Nigeria produces a day. This is more so because the British and Asians have vested interest in the legally, informed economy.
Over the years, monies earmarked for turn around maintenance of refineries ended up in the projects of bourgeois contractors. The overarching goals is to leave the refineries to decay so as to alternate the capacity utilization of the refineries. This unedifying Status-quo provides welcome excuses for independent marketers to import fuel and sell at cut-throat competition. The independent marketers and the licensed oil bunkers also have access to huge bank loans. It was this mindless buccaneering class that wrecked horrendous havoc in the banking sector when professor Chukwuma Soludo was Governor of Nigeria's apex bank. Thanks to Saunsi Lamido for the on-going de-soludonization exercise in the banking industry.
The effort made the Petroleum Minister to compare Nigeria and Venezuela have turned out to be an indictment on the administration. For the past 10years, Nigerians have not reaped the dividends of the privatization and e subsidy on petroleum products. Would improve the lot of the citizenry and that the excesses would be channelled to the provision of infrastructure and social to the provision of infrastructure and social services is no longer appealing to Nigerian could be better of than the bill.
If Nigerian cannot enhances the capacity of the four existing refineries with huge excess crude oil monies, there is no level of private participation that would reform the sector. This is more so because those to participate in the industry are still the same Nigerians. No level of deregulation can expand the economic space or add value to the petroleum sector. The argument by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi that opening up the downstream oil sector via deregulation would eliminate the ills of the sectors such as black marketeering, product adulteration and smuggling is not logical because these were the same arguments that justified, the astronomical increase in the price of Petroleum products. So far, there has never been any improvement in the human and physical infrastructure in the country; as investment in education, physical, health and other social infrastructure has nosedived.
The Federal Government has not been able to maintain the existing refineries let alone build new ones. Deregulation within the Nigerian context means handing over the industry to a few, self aggrandising capitalist hawks who constitute the bourgeoisie class that has access to huge funds to buy-up all the refineries and oil blocs, if the Federal Government implement a harsh deregulation regime, then the price of petroleum products would increase at geometric progression while salaries and wages of workers would stagnate. When there is spiralling inflation, it is only natural for workers to agitate for increased wages and salaries, so rather than bring about macro economic stability, the deregulation policy would aggravate the economic adversities of the working class, increase the misery index and stifle the war against corruption and induce sharp practices.
Deregulation would also liberalise oil bunkering since the same money bags who would bury up the refineries, and oil blocs are engaged in sabotaging the economy through illegal bunkering. Illegal oil bunkering would require the recruitment of violent youth or militant, who will protect the oil interest of the comprador class. Thus, deregulation would heighten militancy in the Niger Delta Region and bastardise the gains of the amnesty programme initiated by the Federal Government.
With deregulation, most independent marketers would adopt sundry unorthodox means to circumvent laid down procedure of conducting the crude oil business. while there are year that deregulation would increase the unemployment index in Nigeria and complicate the nations drive towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and Vision 20:20:20, deregulation would lead to cut-throat competition among petroleum dealers and further reduce the potency of the economy to compete favourably with other developing nations.
Most psychological theories have established a correlation between frustration and criminality index. Deregulation would therefore increase criminality; moral depravity and official corruption, which are characteristics of a failed State. In Nigeria, successive administrations have not been able to harness their economic potentials hence the over-dependence on crude oil and the resource curse syndrome. Our over-dependence on crude oil since 1960 shows that the Nigerian economy is in the hands of the capitalist hawks who determine the price of crude oil in the international oil market. With deregulation, Nigeria would complete the handing over of the economy to marauders and mindless exploiters.
The implication is that policy-makers are not in full control of the macro-economic variables that can serve as a push factor of the economy. Thus expected goals and targets are either tangentially omitted or never met at all. Nigeria is not set to benefit from globalization because even when Nigeria deregulates her economy, there is nothing tangible the nation is producing to expand her economic space. That is why Nigeria has entered into a plethora of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements but lacks the political will to create an atmosphere to support Foreign Direct Investment. Nigeria is at best an economic “colony” or “appendage” of the US and the European Union (EU), even bourgeois revisionism cannot dispute this fact.
These strong economic blocs woo the LDCs with a promise of enlarging their economic space but they lack the institutional genes and capacity to benefit optimally from globalization. Presently, Nigeria cannot evolve any sustainable economic model to escape the poverty-insecurity nexus. Deregulation of the all-important Petroleum Sector negates government's poverty alleviation policy especially at a time Nigeria is running a war economy.
Nigeria should take a bold step to establish a Technology Village and with expatriate manpower start from beaten-tack technology like the Japanese, Koreans, Taiwanese and Malaysians and other Asian Tigers to doubt promote self-reliance. The deregulation policy of government is a metaphor for poverty aggravation. The fact that Nigeria cannot manage her very prolific oil industry is an indication that the leadership is using poverty alleviation as a mere propaganda even as we inch towards the slippery slope of failure.
President Barak Obama and the Western world should understand by now that at independence, Nigeria was dichotomized along the North and South and later Regional lines. There exists six geo-political zones in Nigeria but in the psychology of the average Nigerian, there are two NIGERIAS: those in the Niger Delta and their neighbours, who legitimately demand for their rights in the polity and the Boko Haram brand of fundamentalists, which predominates the Northern part of the country. Southern Nigeria is never associated with suicide bombing of genocidal proportion such as the one demonstrated by Al Qaeda, but this kind of extremism cannot be ruled out in the North. Thus if there is any symptom of Al Qaeda infiltration in to Nigeria as is being reported now, it may be associated with the Islamic Nigeria not the militancy of the Niger Delta variety. The ability of the world leaders to distinguish between the existence of the two NIGERIAS is important. It may also be the reason the Vice President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (GCON) has not been formally empowered to Act as President, in spite of overwhelming evidence that the President is not healthy enough to conduct State businesses. The existence of the two NIGERIAS is the only explanation why Nigeria would not escape the looming constitutional crisis. Idumange John (MNIM, CBA)Is a University Lecturer and Activist
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