Our land soaked in blood, gloom, South-East Bishops wail

By Donu Kogbara

SOMEONE recently made  a very interesting assertion on Twitter, being that “Nigeria is only one truly great leader away from being a superpower”.

Many netizens disagreed because they believe that it will take much more than one truly great leader to not only drag an ailing country out of the doldrums but heal and develop it to the point where it can proudly stand, shoulder-to-shoulder, with premiere league nations.

Some of the naysayers declared that the rot is too deeply embedded and all-embracing to be eradicated in one generation. Put another way, the institutions are rotten to the core and the followership is as much to blame for chronic dysfunctions as the leadership, so no lone ranger can control this mess single-handedly.

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I can see why some folks are so pessimistic because our body politic appears to be terminally diseased; and it is extremely difficult to pull off radical transformations quickly, even on micro levels, never mind on a stage as massive, soiled and complex as Nigeria’s.

Still, after giving a lot of thought to the idea that one special man or woman can achieve an amazing feat in a lifetime, I have concluded that it CAN be done by an inspirational and disciplined individual.

Think about all the group scenarios you have personally encountered – from small ones like your nuclear family or neighbourhood store to medium-sized ones like your local bank or church or mosque or school and large ones like multinational corporations or the police force. Every one of the above has a unique identity that is stamped on it by whoever happens to head it.

Sure, circumstances such as location and whether sufficient funding is available play a part. But the personality of the manager or chairman or principal or pastor or whatever is also critical.

This is why, for example, some families (even poor ones!) are happy, while others (even rich ones!) are miserable. This is why some shops are fragrant and attractive, while others are malodorous and dingy.

This is why some banks have a slick, efficient, international-level 2lst century aura, while others come across as backward and barely functional. This is why some churches are known for dubious practices, while others are respectable and uncontroversial. This is why some schools have long waiting lists while others are only patronised by those who are undiscerning or have no choice.

If Nigeria Inc acquires a great CEO who has the right mindset and puts himself or herself at the centre of a great team, the sky will be our limit and we can finally become a REAL Giant Of Africa. We may not make superpower status overnight, but we will be able to start the journey towards superpower status with confidence.

It only takes one ethical, clever man or woman who is tired enough of the nonsense to say “enough is enough”. And mean it. And persuade us to join him or her on a wonderful potential-fulfilling adventure.

Canaries in the Goldmine: Thoughts on the oncoming Upstream Divestments by Nigeria’s major partners

My friend, Gbite Adeniji, a
lawyer and foremost gas expert, has written an article about an important and alarming development that everyone, including Vanguard readers, should be aware of. It is too long to squeeze onto this page, so I am going to serialise it.

Here is part 1.

THE ongoing exercise by Shell and ExxonMobil for the wholesale divestment of their interests in petroleum joint ventures with Nigeria’s national oil company, NNPC Limited, is unprecedented in scale and has significant implications for Nigeria as a viable economic and political unit.

Shell has had a particularly interesting history in Nigeria. It secured exclusive rights to explore for petroleum in Nigeria in 1936 through its Shell D’arcy. It currently operates 37 Oil Mining Leases in the NNPC/Shell joint venture portfolio through its Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, SPDC, from land, swamp and shallow water terrains.

Shell has produced several billions of dollars in hydrocarbon value since it made the first discovery of oil at Oloibiri in 1957 and is arguably the largest single private sector contributor to Nigeria’s economy. It makes significant direct contributions to Nigeria’s treasury through royalty payments, lease rental payments, petroleum taxes, lease renewal fees, and education tax. It also pays several hundreds of millions of dollars in statutory levies for the development of the Niger Delta region and for the development of local content in the petroleum industry.

As the operator of the largest of the five petroleum joint ventures involving NNPC Limited and international oil companies (Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Total Energies, Agip), it employs several indigenes from the communities hosting its operations and spends several billions of dollars from the joint venture budget on contracts executed by many local contractors and through several corporate social responsibility initiatives targeted at the host communities. Hence, there is a direct economic impact on the local, state and national economy from its activities in Nigeria.  Given the strategic importance of  petroleum revenues on the Nigerian state, and the socioeconomic impact of Shell’s activities in every state and community in which it operates, it is no exaggeration to describe Shell as Nigeria’s most important business partner.

Business partner

Coming close is ExxonMobil which commenced petroleum operations in Nigeria in 1955 through Mobil Oil Corporation. It holds its joint venture assets with NNPC through its legacy company, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, MPNU, and operates mainly in a geologically prolific area in the south eastern part of the country that is known within the industry as “the golden triangle”.  Both Shell and Exxon have initiated a process of the sale of their local subsidiaries through which they hold participating interests in the respective joint ventures (corporate sale) with NNPC Limited.

These international oil companies will leave in their wake several experienced and well trained Nigerians who can operate assets anywhere in the world. They will, however, leave a legacy of angst in the Niger Delta and several unresolved disputes with host communities on land disputes, environmental degradation from gas flaring, crude oil spills and all what not.

The combined hydrocarbon reserves within the Shell and Exxon Mobil asset base are significant enough to require all Nigerians to pay attention to the prospect of a divestment of this magnitude by two of the country’s most important investors whose operations directly impact the country’s economic and, possibly, political, fortunes. The timing is of course inauspicious, with the ink hardly dry on the freshly minted Petroleum Industry Act, PIA.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.