“South South can collapse Nigeria’s economy
if President Jonathan is not re-elected in
February 14 presidential elections” –Jimi Agbaje
During the long struggle for power to shift to the South after the killing of Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12 1993 Presidential Elections, I remember I wrote an open letter to God with the caption GOD, PLEASE GIVE THE NORTH OIL. What informed my decision to write the piece then was the report I read in the front page of The Guardian Newspaper of Wednesday April 14 1999 where it was stated that “The last phase in the six-year old search for oil in the North by six Multi-Nationals begun yesterday with the drilling work on a well, Kolmani River-AX by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) ltd”
Let me reproduce what I wrote in that piece just for the records: “My immediate reaction to this good news of the century in Nigeria is to heave a sigh of relief that the freedom of Nigerians from slavery, oppression and intimidation may just be in sight. I was filled with profound happiness more than ever before in the last 15years in Nigeria. I prayed to God and said: Almighty and everlasting God in whose Almighty hands are the destinies of nations and individual, the God of Abraham, God of Jacob, the God of David, the God of Daniel, the God of Shedrach, Meshack and Abadnego, the God of Israelites, the God who answereth by fire, please, please let the North have oil this time around more in volume or twice the quantity found in the South so that the South can be free. I am now recommending this prayer to every living soul and every institution in the South; men and women, youth and children, churches, mosques, primary schools, secondary schools, universities, professionals, market women, petty traders, artisans, politicians, pro-democracy groups, human right activists, soldiers, police, business men and women, bus drivers and conductors, Nigerians in Diaspora etc. This prayer should be recited as many times as possible everyday until oil is discovered in larger quantity in the North”
I was compelled to write this piece above for balance of power and balance of economic activities in both the North and the South, so that all will live in peace and harmony, without the North abusing the South or the South abusing the North.
Today 16years after, when the South would have been in power for 14years and the North for 2years, Jimi Agbaje, the PDP Governorship candidate for Lagos has provoked me to a rethink on the subject matter. Jimi said recently that “South South can collapse Nigeria’s economy if President Jonathan is not re-elected” Jimi Agbaje said this because of crude oil from the South South. He said this because Nigeria has been running a mono economy. It is the economy of crude oil or crude oil economy.
Now, this 21st century monumental blackmail and celebration of mediocrity stunned me into disbelief and at once I returned to my desk to ask God to reduce oil price to one dollar per barrel so that Nigerians can think, dream and work again. I am at a loss that a man who claimed to have studied Pharmacy and has been in a retail drug business in Apapa for more than 30years could descend to this miserable level of thinking because he desperately wants to govern Lagos. How can a loss of oil money cripple the economy of North West, North East, North Central, South East and South West in one fell swoop?
Have the economies of Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore collapsed because they have no oil? Have the economies of the third world countries that have no oil collapsed? Are they not making progress with the little minerals they have? Jimi Agbaje has told the world that he is not a deep thinker. He has told the world that he has no capacity to rule Lagos without oil money. He has shown the world that his lack of exposure while manning a drug retail store is a great limitation to his fantasy of ruling Lagos. He has shown the world that he has no capacity to key into the grand vision that has been driving Lagos since 1999 and has no business getting near the Alausa seat of Lagos power.
If a scientist and a pharmacist of more than 30years standing can succumb to the ugly attraction of a mono-economy in the 21st century then there is no hope for Nigeria. If gold rust what will iron do? If a pretender to the seat of a sophisticated and developed state of Lagos has no capacity to think beyond the rent seekers that are prodding him on for their selfish interests, then he has no business even desiring to rule Lagos. Jimi Agbaje has exposed himself and his profound ignorance and if I were him I will withdraw from the governorship race in Lagos. Oil money has held Nigeria hostage for more than 60years now and time has come for us to break the vicious cycle. This is the time to rise up and go. Today, the two most viable states in Nigeria are Lagos and Ogun and both are driven not by the idle cash from the sale of crude but by widening the base for industry and capacity to key in and drive the engine of growth.
God Almighty should reduce the oil price to one dollar per barrel so that Nigerians can do the needful. Oil money has destroyed our sense of reasoning, our sense of responsibility and sense of purpose. With the prospect of oil still falling lower than it has already gone, we need men of vision and ingenuity to drive Nigeria. Lagos, as the life wire of Nigeria, needs a creative mind and an ingenious thinker to further the grand vision and initiatives of former Governor Tinubu and present Governor Fashola. Jimi Agbaje has shown he lacks that tact and his infantile blackmail should be ignored for what it is; the immature thinking of a political blackmailer and nothing more.
The new Nigeria we want must invest in Human Capital Development, must harness other mineral resources, must invest in science & tech, agriculture etc. This is the way to go.
Article written by Joe Igbokwe, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC in Lagos.
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