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Delta Beyond Oil: A quest for sustainable development in print


DeltaHere is an unusual but fresh publication that could fill a yawning gap in the information world of the oil industry, revenue generation/disbursement and over-dependence on a single natural resource by a nation. Neatly organized and written in sixteen chapters, covering sundry issues relating to the geography, history, governments and natural resources base of Delta State, the book is a roadmap for alternative source of wealth-creation in the country.

Also, the book will whet the creative and entrepreneurial appetite of those who are prepared and ready to carry their fortunes in their hands, as the country passes yet another recession occasioned by falling oil prices. Thinkers; this is what the book intends to make of its readers in the stimulation and reinvigoration of the Delta economy, especially and Nigeria, as a whole.

Delta Beyond Oil, Edited by Prof. S.O. Aghalino, is the brainchild of the Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan. He, before the last crash in international oil prices, foresaw dangers in the economy with the nearly 100 per cent reliance on the revenue from oil. For the governor, Delta Beyond Oil (DBO) is a needed compliment to his acclaimed Three-Point Agenda. To him, DBO “is essentially ‘…an economic agenda that will develop other areas of the economy, different from oil and gas but using the current funds coming from oil and gas to develop the other areas of the economy, especially in the areas of agriculture and solid minerals…’”

The manners and ways of the book will not only feed the reader directly but everyone who reads it with open minds and be ready to take it dearly to heart. The advice to take the book this seriously is based on the waning days and fortunes of oil. While it may not be complete to state that the good old days of oil are gone, it will not be unwise to look beyond oil by the federal government, state governments and the people of the country. The oil sector has become almost uninteresting to most stakeholders because of its unstable regime of supply, demand, pricing and even politics.

The entry of the American shale oil, new crude oil finds in otherwise fallow regions and the coming of alternative sources of power – green energy, have only helped in complicating matters for the mainstream oil industry.

The book states, “In Africa, countries like Ghana and Uganda are becoming beautiful brides in the rush for stable and peaceful environment for oil business.” The implication is that the restive Niger Delta region which lays the golden eggs has not been the role model, in terms of peace and security; it was to government and investors in the past.

It is against this rather forlorn background that Governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan saw ahead that perhaps made him to articulate the imaginative policy of Delta Beyond Oil, DBO.

And it is this promising prospect of reaping more revenue outside oil that the Delta Board of Internal Revenue, DBIR, saw in Governor Uduaghan’s vision and propounded policy that made it to intelligently capture the whole phenomenon in this rich publication amongst other initiatives.

Further in terms of content of the book, there is the claim that countries which have oil-led development; “are daily confronted with intractable problems…” Amongst several reasons, the book advanced for this assertion is that, “…the price offered for their primary products such as oil and gas are dictated not by policy framers in these countries but the consumers in major European capitals and the metropolis in North America.”

What DBIR is subtly telling the general public by this book is that every nation, especially one like Nigeria, should take their fate in their hands without leaving itself exposed to the caprices of others. It is a known fact that the oil industry is purely and conservatively a ‘buyers’ market.’

Another significant aspect of the book is the portion dedicated to the Delta Board of Internal Revenue in making itself a key factor in the economic and social life of Delta State and its foresight and determination in bringing the book to life. “The DBO initiative to DBIR “…is geared toward unleashing the alternative sources of revenue for the economy of the state, especially in terms of development of the dominant resources which the state is endowed with.”

It is, so to say, to eliminate or mitigate what the book calls “…the resource curse…” that the book added: “It is instructive to note that the Delta Board of Internal Revenue (DBIR) is already factoring tax into the DBO mantra. This understanding underscored the theme of the 2013 DBIR retreat tagged: “Delta Beyond Oil: Implications and the Role of DBIR.”

All that have been credited to DBIR could not have happened under a less capable professional other than the Chairman, Honourable Joel-Onowakpo Thomas. He has ingeniously lifted the Board from the doldrums and fed it with adequate life and eventually turned its fortunes in the most dramatic way. Very well, it has performed its major role ‘to always assist the Delta State Government with the required funds for the development of the state.’

Despite all the high-points of the publication it could have been an added plus if there were more inputs of pictures spread over the two volumes instead of just volume two alone. This could have served better the pupils and students that are going to have it as part of their reading list at school.

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