Niger Delta Development Commission: A vision degraded – Part 2
Continued from yesterday
The NNPC and several other Government institutions give a bad example to NDDC. The NNPC is giving hospitals, gifts, etc to communities, what criteria they use for these gifts. Are the directors of their various companies comprising NNPC from these areas? If NNPC can do it, when will NTA, NBC, if it had money, begin to denote money and projects to communities? Why should the ministry of finance not build a clinic/ hotel or whatever in Abonnema, when next my countryman begins minister? How about the ministry of Agriculture donating money for cleaning up towns or even donating a dam? What other rational except having disregard for precedent and finding ways to irresponsibly spend money? NNPC cannot run its refineries but can presumably on grounds of corporate responsibility go out giving buildings to towns? How about giving things to where the oil actually comes from?
DPR was reputed to have generated some trillions but remitted only 40billion. Is there some disconnect there? LNG accounts are opaque but somehow this doesn’t seem to matter but we should know.
CBN has left its core business of being the nation`s banker to becoming some sort of father Christmas to all and sundry- electricity, farming, education, roads, agriculture, aviation, etc, in a way that is unaccountable and impossible to know. Currency parity, inflation, stability, monitoring the GDP, the gap between borrowing and saving interest rates in the bank etc, closing the income gap, strengthening and protecting the Naira, etc.
The Solution is that all these activities should stop. We should go back to basics. Do that to which you are statutorily charged well before branching to anything else. Fix your refineries, find ways to make NNPC leaner, more efficient, more profitable. This is easy, contrary to extant opinion, to calculate loss and profit of NNPC, NDDC, and NPA. In the current atmosphere, what stops NPA from building cement factory in Enugu or the Accountant Generals Office or FIRS from building a luxury liner? Generally, every institution leaving what should be doing what it should do and doing what it should not. I thought the Attorney General had the duty to point out what the law was in setting up these commissions. After all there are several precedents of good behaviour. The Tennessee Valley Authority does not receive any money from the Federal Government. It pays taxes to the Federal Government. It is mainly funded by its operations – making ferfizess, electricity, levies, preventing floods, etc. One of its main contractors and consultants is the Army Corp of Engineers. It sells electricity to 154 electrical companies. Directors of TVA are appointed by the President. The CEO earns as much as a private company CEO – US $8 million now. (But it did not start as $8 million). TVA does irrigation, builds agricultural development projects, creates the eminent domain areas, researches on society and development – used by the US aid agencies. Its books are transparent and open to public examination. Much of Holland is reclaimed using age old technologies constantly modernized.
Holland is the leading world authority in hydrology and land reclaimation. The dreamers of the NDDC had imagined that the Dutch experience would be useful to NDDC because of the topography of the Niger Delta itself. Plenty of water, not enough land. It was even contemplated that the NDDC would reach out to the three authorities, the Welsh, the Dutch and the Americans to form the basis of the expertise in its development enterprise. It was believed that the NDDC would be eventually self-financing and be profit centres with development for the entire area. It was never set up as an Egunje. I am told that NNPC, SNEEPCO, National Oil Exploration Company are entitled to do this because of corporate social responsibility. Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation; Nigerian Television Authority, Nigerian Ports Authority – are they not corporate entities? If NTA and NBC were adequately funded, they too could make these donations.
If a good chunk of Glo, MTN, etc, remained with the original telephone and television companies (like it remained with BT and the Post Office) and if users of these services regularly paid for them, who knows, NTA, NBC may well have been bigger. In Nigeria, we sold not only the house, we sold the plates, the cutlery, the rights to existence and we replaced them with money optics for a few. We then left the shell – NTA, NBC, BON, etc for adventurers to game any system so as to survive.
It is about 60 years since Nigeria discovered oil. The refineries are all over 40 years. Yes it means they are old, but 40 years also means accumulated experience and expertise to be able to make the old function like new. Old age does not excuse profligacy. When last did you hear of new refineries being built in the United States or Europe? They maintain the old ones. Now the NNPC is moving into gas to build a pipeline from gas fields in the South South to everywhere. No sane person would disagree with that. But look at what happened elsewhere where you take a resource from one end to another. Even in Siberia, the areas where oil and gas are pumped have been developed. In the US, Corpus Christi is the refining capital of the US, other areas like Delaware, California, Arizona, etc have extremely development profile – cities, businesses, universities, research centres, massive agricultural holdings, air, sea and land transportation; wealthy people living in Miami, Houston, New Mexico, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco etc. A place for work of all US citizens? Can Nigeria not do this? Arab oil producing countries have these development hubs, why not Nigeria? Please visit the oil producing area in the South South. The point here is that if the South South were as developed as the states I mentioned in the US -it is development for oil – a place all Nigerians come to test and achieve their potential. One may abuse Mr. Trump for all kinds of things, but he was able to make the US self-sufficient in oil production and is now a leading exporter. Can we say this about Nigeria? Nigerians must stop putting our ingenuity in bondage. We must free our spirit to dream and achieve.