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Oil Find In The North: Between The Cockroach King And Spilled Sugar

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If President Muhammadu Buhari has thrown his weight behind efforts at exploiting hydrocarbon (crude oil) find in the North, then he is only working on the templates of scientific work during the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) administration. If he is seen as pursuing a cause that will split Nigeria, then that may not be far from the clustered imagination of those thinking that way.

According to Fani Kayode in his twitter chat, “My prayer for Nigeria is that oil is found in commercial quantities in the core north. I am glad that @MBuhari [1] is looking for it desperately. If he finds it he and the north will be the first to call for a break up of the country…”

Ibe Kachukwu as minister of  state petroleum hinted on the  possible discovery of significant quantity of oil in the Lake Chad area, North-East Nigeria based on analysis of recent seismic 3D data generated from the Chad Basin. The analysis of hydrocarbon therefore suggests that some Northern states will soon be part of oil producing areas of the country.

The find is expected to illicit celebration. Persons of the Southern part of the country pulverized by incidence of oil spill environmental degradation are expected to be happier as pressure on activities will reduce in the area. But the remark made by Fani Kayode, seem to mirror the apprehension of some Nigerians who are of the opinion that the find exposes Nigeria to fragmentation at the behest of persons from the North.

The question of our continuous existence as a country pops up like an ugly sore once regionally based developments emerges. People are either quick to own something or reject it along that line. The most mischievous however is the assertion of a nod to splinter Nigeria by Nigerians of northern extraction.

If we must however dissect the position of Mr. Kayode, examining the oil find and possible consequence on our nationhood must not be waved aside for lack of commonsense. Considering the barrage of insults thrown at Nigerians from the monolithic north, it is easy to allow the insinuation of Kayode slide – though without the allegations against Mr. President.

The oil find in the north is indeed a very good development every Nigerian must pray for. While it would be out of place to allege the president is desperately seeking to “divide” the country once oil is found, it is instructive to inundate on the fact that the north will be released from the burden of been called “parasites”.

Agitations by some elites from the oil producing southern states are mostly predicated on the oil resources located in 'their area'. Issues of resource control, secessionist proposal have always dominated their agenda. A find of hydrocarbon in the north is expected to properly balance resource location question if only Nigerians are truly sincere about our nationhood.

Far back as 1990's, the north was expected to commence operations of its oil find. Interestingly, vested interests thought otherwise. The disparity in resource location/ ownership led to tantrums over ecological disaster incidence on account of oil spill, ownership by oil-producing areas and arguments about whose resources were used to develop oil in the first place.

It appears some people derive some level of satisfaction to skew resource control for power and wealth control. Some argue that the disproportionate resource location in the country is a factor that has managed to keep the country. They further insist that the north is forced to remain despite calls by oil producing regions to split. Though some believe it is indeed a major reason for calls to fragment Nigeria.

Before the emergence of the present administration,  efforts by some northern groups to encourage exploration/exploitation of oil in the region, efforts have largely been frustrated. The NNPC and the multinational oil companies involved in the project distanced themselves from the find for reasons best known to them.

Drawing conclusion from Chad and Republic of Niger oil finds, the growing trend of oil discovery in Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Sokoto, Anambra, Kogi and Niger States shows that monopoly of oil producing states in the monolithic south-south states is about to end.

It is therefore instructive to warn that people must refrain from utterances capable of stunting efforts of Buhari led administration moves at exploiting the finds. In the north, the incidence of oil spill will not have catastrophic ecological challenge like the one's experienced in the Niger Delta. Agitations of splitting Nigeria done mostly for mischievous reasons will be whittled and the quest for true federalism might be achieved.

Harping on true federalism, it is important to note that until Nigeria is mature enough to allow states develop at their pace and control their own resources, peace, progress will continue to elude us. If the hitherto skewed oil resources location was part of reasons why true federalism eluded Nigeria, the emerging states with possibilities of producing oil dotted across the country can help to achieve that quest.

Nigeria needs remaking more than rebranding. Our existing brand needs to be reconstructed to fit into our multiplicity and diversity. Oil finds in other parts of the country should be seen as a blessing and a veritable remedy towards forging true federalism.  Our story is like that of the cockroach king and the sugar tactics of calling subjects for a meeting. Once there is something for all to nibble on, dissenting voices tend to fade into the oblivion. A balance in resources allocation, control across the country is indeed a panacea to lasting peace in Nigeria.

Written by, Israel A. Ebije.
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