Date Published: 11/05/09
Downstream Petroleum Industry Deregulation in Nigeria, History repeating itself ? By Ndiameeh Babrik
The Bible says when wicked and evil leaders are in power, the people will suffer and cry. That is the case of present day Nigeria where history seems to be repeating itself all over again. About 23 or 24 years ago when the evil General Ibrahim Babangida as he later confessed in his numerous self defence interviews imposed himself on the Nigerian state, he decided to introduced what he called then 'Structural Adjustment Programme' (SAP). When there was consensus in the Land that SAP will destroy the Nigeria economy, breed corruption and bring hardship on Nigerians, Ibrahim Babangida decided to set up a committee of experts on the issue which brought about the national SAP debate of that time for about three or four months. The evidence of the debate was overwhelming that Nigerians of all works of life totally rejected SAP because of it anticipated consequence on Nigeria and Nigerians then and in the future. But the evil General had made up his mind and therefore the next lexicon that came out of his mouth was that 'there is no alternative to SAP'. 24 years on now the effect of that single evil decision is still biting harder and harder everyday in the land.
History it seems is about to repeat itself again with the insistence of Umaru Musa Yar'adua that the deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry is the answer to Nigerian problems. In 24 years from today that is if Nigeria is still existing as a nation state, somebody somewhere will be writing that despite opposition from experts, the organised labour and civil society groups in Nigeria, Umaru Musa Yar'adua decided to tour the evil path General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida took 50 years earlier or in 1986 to be precise to impose avoidable and unnecessary hardship on Nigerians by insisting on deregulation of the downstream sector of the Nigeria petroleum industry.
Everybody has said times without number, the Nigerian problem is not deregulation of oil or petroleum industry as the case may be. The problem is corruption in high places.
Mrs Farida Waziri is grinning from ear to ear now because EFCC secured a paltry two years jail term for Bode George for betraying public trust and stealing 81 billion Naira from public coffers. While well done EFCC at least half bread is better than none or as the Hausa adage will say “Da gara babu gara ba dadi”
But when I had of the fact that Bode George stole 81 billion Naira as chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), under a civil regime where there are suppose to checks and balances and where there are controls, my mind went down memory to remembering when he was the military governor of Ondo state under the Babangida military maladministration which all Nigerians have come to accept and agree is the epitome, source and beginning of corruption on a higher scale in Nigeria. Where cunning Babangida then coined the term “Na where you did work you go chop”. I begin to wonder how much he might have stolen as the sole power in charge of the state finances and many other military governors like that. Wouldn't it be better for Nigeria as a nation to probe some of the previous military regimes beginning from say the Gowon regime to the Abdulsami regime? If Bode George and his cohorts were to be in China or Malaysia while your guess is as good as mine when it comes to sentencing for stealing 80 billion Naira from public treasury.
There are some people that are the face and personification of corruption in Nigeria Bode George is just their boy. The real corrupt people are still there dictating the pace of governance determining who gets what office. It is when such persons are brought to justice that the average Nigerian will see it as true deterrent and might think twice before indulging in pilfering public purse.
When the Buhari military administration of yore sentenced corrupt politicians to 200 years in prison, it served as a deterrent then. Most Nigerians sat up and were always looking over their shoulders especially those with corrupt tendencies.
Now that Bode George is in jail, we are hopping that that will avail him the chance to open their can of worms and Nigeria will be better for it.
Let me use this opportunity to thank my numerous readers,admirers and fans who emailed to ask after my health and to know whether I have chickened out of the struggle. Never! “We have no other country but Nigeria we to salvage it together” ------- General Mohammadu Buhari, March, 1984.
Please note that I have re-phrased the above quotation.
I am back on the beat in full now.
Thanks for reading.