Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Niger-Delta Crude Oil Source a la Sonny Odogwu

“Money miss road” is a popular pejorative in Nigeria used to describe those to whom wealth seems to have come undeservedly. In a society that measures the worth of a man by how much wealth he has amassed regardless of the means of acquisition, integrity or substance of his mind, this cliché it seems is out of place. A few days ago, one of these “money miss roads,” Sonny Odogwu, is credited to have made some arcane and ill-informed statements of the source of crude oil in the Niger-Delta. He is said to have proclaimed that the oil reservoirs in the Niger-Delta are fed by underground tributaries with sources in North Africa, and that if Northern Nigerians were greedy that they could stanch this flow since the tributaries run through the Northern part Nigeria as they course southward to fill the reservoirs in the Niger-Delta.

How bizarre, this theory! One wonders how Mr. Odogwu arrived at this convoluted and erroneous theory. It boggles the mind that a man of Mr. Odogwu’s stature can make such an out rightly wrong statement. He definitely has a very creative and vivid imagination and would be better served contriving fictional stories for “Nollywood” rather than making commentaries on issues he is grossly uninformed about. This only goes to show how shallow and unenlightened the so called Nigerian elites of Mr. Odogwu’s ilk are.

Crude oil, as any lay person who bothers to check would find, results from millions of years of marination under pressure of dead organic matter of plant and animal origin, and microscopic marine organisms that have been trapped under the earth's crust. It follows therefore that these reservoirs in the Niger-Delta were in place long before the existence of the entity called Nigeria and certainly long before the very first human settlers in the Niger-Delta. To posit that crude oil flows from North Africa to the Niger-Delta is not only grossly erroneous and misleading but shows the mental substance of Mr. Odogwu. He is well advised to in future do some research before giving interviews, or keep mum on subjects of which he is ignorant.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Warped Logic of Zoning the Presidency

I just read an article in the Nigerian Tribune of June the 24th 2006 by Jacob Segun Olatunji & Bankole Makinde titled “South South May Boycott the Elections.” It tries to surmise the reason why the so called leaders of the “south-south” geopolitical zone want all the 37 registered political parties to field a south-southern candidate. Their reason is that the north has produced the president or head of state for 34 of the 45 years of Nigerian independence and therefore it is the turn of the south-south geopolitical region to produce the next president. Anything less, they say, they will boycott the 2007 elections. Let’s try to decompose the reasoning behind this proposition.

If the current political dispensation is a democracy, is imposing such a demand not tantamount to blackmail and hijacking the democratic process? Subscribing to such a formula of zoning is only a perpetuation of regional, sectional and ethno-centric politics that has bedeviled the system and stunted development in Nigeria for decades now. Would it not be better for the president to be elected based on merit rather than zoning or ethno-centricism? That way, there is no sense of entitlement, and we know we truly have the people’s choice in office rather than a compromise president whose ascension to power is just because he is from a particular zone of Nigeria. All progressive peoples of the world would agree that this is a regressive and tribalistic approach to democracy.

Proponents of this formula subscribe to it because they assume that there are some benefits that would accrue to the region from which the president comes. This goes to suggest that the president who is supposed to be nationalistic and impartial would favour his ethnic or regional ilk over other Nigerians. Would such a president not be unfair, perhaps even criminal?

The only traits that should matter in the next president are integrity, vision and intellect. The region from which the president comes should not even arise. The Nigerian entity would only truly be democratic when the so called “leaders of thought” and old brigade ethnocentric tribalistic politicians and their protégées stop taking the Nigerian people for a ride by playing up ethnic and sectional sentiments whenever it suits their political ends.