by Usman Alabi
Federal government said yesterday that crude oil had been discovered in Borno state without specifying the exact location where it was discovered nor whether it’s in commercial quantity.
Mrs Jamila Shuara, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources disclosed this during the agreement signing ceremony of joint venture, and presentation of the petroleum sector score card in Abuja.
She attributed the discovery of oil in Borno and Lagos states to the doggedness of the present administration.
This present administration has been extensively involved in oil exploration activities throughout the country, including the Lake Chad Basin.
The question is do we still need this black gold? This black gold that has caused us more troubles than blessings. What is the rationale behind the federal government prospecting for more oil?
The whole of Nigeria can as well be sitting on crude oil, but if we are unable to find a political solution to the troubles that our first major discovery has brought us, then we can as well begin to prepare for more troubles.
We do not exactly require more oil to advance our economy or cater for our people, what we need is the right political formula and selfless leaders. We need to look into the constitution and restructure the polity. It is after then that we can be rest assured that issues like this would not fuel dissent and discord in the country.
After discovering oil in places like Borno and Lagos, what structure do we have on ground to avoid replicating the crisis we are currently facing in the Niger-Delta?
Now that the environment is clean, the ground is not black, the fishes are not poisoned with oil, the atmosphere is clean, the rain is not black in these areas where oil has recently been discovered, it is important that we put on ground structures and institutions to help realize the benefits of having such resources.
There is no better time to begin to consider resource control for all the states in the country, coupled with genuine fiscal federalism. It is also important that the rationale behind this search for oil in other areas is not to further extend our dependence on oil or break the Niger-Delta monopoly.
The world is moving away from oil, and eventually that might be the case, the state must bear this in mind and concentrate on extensive diversification of our means of revenue. It is either we do away with oil or we genuinely restructure and give more power to the component units of the Federation, in way that reduces their dependence on the Federal government.
In other words, it is not enough to prospect for more resources, but another pertinent question that must be asked is, who controls these resources? For me I would advice that if we must have peace and encourage genuine economic growth that comes from competition within a federation, then we must allow the states to control what is on their land.
Yet nothing has changed, the only thing new here is the unrepentant move by the Federal government to source for more oil anywhere in Nigeria apart from the Niger-Delta, but to make sure that Niger-Delta does not repeat itself, we must address the issue politically.