Resource sharing has always been a problem in Nigeria. With the rest of the Nigerian people suffering and groaning under the pains of poverty, the Nigerian top 1% with undue access to the commonwealth, smile to the bank every day. The oil industry, both offshore and onshore, supposedly remains the headquarters of flagrant corruption in Nigeria. This level of corruption is always the case for countries who have oil as their mainstay oil, but for Nigeria? It is already out of hand, especially in the case of oil well allocation.
Presently, President Muhammadu Buhari has received due accolades for revoking the licenses of individuals who have oil wells in Nigeria. However, speculations are ripe, that he would likely re-allocate those oil wells to friends and associates, without minding their ability to manage them and with little recourse to the stipulations of the constitution.
A renowned SAN by name, Femi Falana, has laid it bare, concerning the wanton misappropriation going on in the oil industry. Mr. Falana, wrote to the President, stating that most of the individuals and companies that the government allocates oil wells to, over the years, cannot manage them. They often sub-lease these oil wells to foreign companies who run them and pay huge rent to these individuals.
This nefarious arrangement impoverishes the people while enriching the few Nigerians with access to the presidency. Also, this method leads to capital flight, since Nigeria’s resources are used to fund foreign companies with links to the government. In turn, these foreign companies repatriate these funds to their countries, leading to depletion in the value of the Naira.
Mr. Falana in his letter, therefore, threatens to drag the FG to court if such trends continue. He pointed out that the allocation of oil wells contravene Section 16(2) (c) of the Constitution which provides that; “the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or a group.”
He continued, “Given the preceding, we urge Your Excellency to restrict the allocation of oil blocks including marginal fields to the Federal Government and the governments of the 36 states of the Federation. This request is in line with Section 16 (1) (b) of the Constitution which has mandated the Nigerian State to “control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom, and happiness of every citizen by social justice and equality of status and opportunity.”
The historical allocation of oil wells in Nigeria has always included an economic alienation of the poor, which the government seeks to protect. While the people do not hope that the nation turns socialist, the resources of the nation must be processed and harnessed in the most corruption-free ways, so that the dividends can go round in the form of jobs, foreign exchange balancing, improved quality of life and overall, an improved economy.
Just a little question; Imagine a Nigeria where the resources are managed well enough, to ensure the development of all the axes of the economy, to spur diversification and to encourage development? That Nigeria is not far-fetched, and Nigerians can get there, by relentlessly demanding for a better Nigeria.