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NNPC tower

“In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is” Van de Snepsheut.

Every progress has been enabled by what people do out of theory they test when the extant practice fail them or seems not achieving result, that is why knowledge centres exist and should produce more theories to be tested.

Brazilians seem to know that better than Nigerians both in their Petrobas, equivalent of Nigeria’s NNPC and in their Football team.

There is corruption in their Petrobas like in Nigeria’s NNPC but theirs is hinged on Presidents they produce and which segment of the population the President must use the corruption largesse to boost.

Though in all cases the national football team must thrive and must not be mentioned in any corruption scandal.

Nigeria’s case is that Presidents take ownership of NNPC and it is never evident which segment of the population is benefitting from the unending corruption people attribute to NNPC.

Soludo not making it public during his tenure as CBN governor until his open brawl with Okonjo-Iweala claimed $30 billion was unaccounted for by NNPC and Sanusi in his time claimed it was $20 billion and the current Finance minister has started battling with NNPC again as if there are no brains in Nigeria to work out a process of stopping NNPC from derailing.

In Brazil, since their own end of military rule, starting from Lula da Silva, with their about 260 million people, their Petrobas has served as cheap money funnelling to a given segment of the populace as either subsidised loan procuring organisation or as poverty reduction leveraged organisation, direct or indirectly.

To the pro West institutions it could be termed corruption but to the poverty ridden Brazilians or the greedy billionaires among them it is not corruption but a way of empowerment; and they seem to collectively agree to that to an extent that the impeached Dilma Yousef had to tell the IMF to stop flashing red card to Brazil and to know that managing people is not like playing football.

Who would have known better? She and her protégé, Lula, took out over 40 million Brazilians out of poverty not minding the shout or whistleblowing of the IMF.

Unlike Nigeria, weak assessment of theory or knowledge make the leaders sink many Nigerians into poverty for every NNPC misdemeanour to the point that Nigeria is now notoriously known as the poorest country in the world of about 198 countries with Africa having 54 countries.

Between Nigeria and Brazil, the difference is making theory work than what failed practice shows.

It is like listening to a mason as against listening to an architect who knows the whole process or listening to a programmer as against listening to Systems engineer whose algorithm design is what the programmer is working on. One is theory loaded and the other is hand to mouth practice.

While Lula and Dilma care for the poor, the current President, Temer is linked to the billionaires, what economists call now the one percent?

Reading Leahy and Schipani in FT, the “one per cent” are companies like JBS, Odebrecht construction, Batista brothers, etc.

They are all involved in activities that seem to be facades to the real intent of siphoning money for their private ends and increasing the billionaire status. They, all, find the resources in PETROBAS, directly or indirectly.

Nigerian Presidents had emulated such approach but failed in getting deep to the theoretical process that could make it work for its people.

Just like someone is saying that Abacha loot will be distributed to the poor come next month as if the world wealth creation process is distributed that way.

People must be seen as doing something to merit money as even students who have made themselves available for learning are great workers and some of them are doing the work of learning under extreme poverty.

Imagine the borrowing made available to them in UK or USA and it is seen as great investment which Nigerian leaders are completely ignorant of.

Brazilian leaders leverage their students the same way and even African students who are studying in their universities as I was privileged to be with no fewer than 50 African students under Brazilian scholarship in the University of Miner Gerais in Belo Horizonte.

Every President that comes appropriate the Petroleum Ministry but fails to use it the way that creates prosperity of the people.

In Brazil it is said that billionaires use their wealth to sponsor people to their National Assembly either the Senate or the Congress and that the impeachment of Lula was possible because she was creating bottleneck to them and not necessarily that she was corrupt as they found in her VP a better man to reach deals with.

The Judges can only work on pieces of evidence and when sufficient evidence abound their hands could be tied.

In Nigeria, pieces of evidence are only convincing when the government in power produces them. And one can see such in the current prosecution of former Governor of Kano State, Shekaru, in which the EFCC is begging to have it done outside Kano as the same masses who they claimed voted seemingly 100% APC, is not comfortable seeing Shekaru prosecuted even when he is wavering between APC and another Party; may be to fool Nigerians as evidence could be weak or undermined.

Nigerians know that Obj and Goodluck produced more billionaires than Nigeria ever had. However, it behoves APC to lift more people out of poverty as a counterbalance instead of seeing more Nigerians wallowing in extreme poverty.

Even in football more billionaires are produced in the current dispensation than lifting poor people out of poverty. Brazilian football is not so.

Their Favela where poor people live is where they get their footballers and lead them out of poverty.

In Nigeria, Foreign coach employed out of billionaire bargains take charge of the team and he roams the world looking for billionaire footballers to bring to play for Nigeria.

Imagine a coach begging Michel Obi to play in a position and withdrawing poor Musa when his zeal to score goals is craving for actualisation.

So the same weak thinking and lack of application of theory loom large in the football process that would have been used to assuage the emotions of poor Nigerians who see the team as their hope for happiness.

Foreign or foreign minded people are recruited either in football or in governance but are not allowed to apply foreign leveraged tools or better local contents to achieve results.

For example, it is unAfrican to be talking about deficit budget though it is quite acceptable in a world dominated by foreign interest including foreign creditors who are looking for where to safely invest.

Your ability to consistently respect the rules of borrowing would endear them to you and Nigeria is never respecting the rules and, so, why deficit budgeting when they will shy away from coming to improve your infrastructure with their funds.

In effect when you say joint venture cash call in NNPC it is like borrowing process to be ploughed back in the exploration business and Petrobas does that also with great deal of intelligence which NNPC is not doing.

It seems NNPC is not Nigeria’s company or geared to making Nigeria benefit from its operations as the current Minister of Finance, Mrs Adeosun laments.

And it could not be far from seeing NNPC collaborating with only the 50 Nigerians who own 80% of deposits in Nigerian banks as they say from the poor it could be taken to give the rich. That was a revelation by Agbakoba SAN.

So where are the people of knowledge and theory who could sieve out better what late Claude Ake said about development and apply it effectively for the poor majority who, as assumed made it possible for APC to come to power.

Ariole is professor of French and Francophone studies University of Lagos.


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