This oil will dry up
I think it was in year 2000 that I decided to change my Mitsubishi Lancer and buy a Mercedes Benz 190. As soon as I told some people, they were full of discouragements. They told me it was too big for me and that as a woman I should buy ‘First Lady’, the reigning Toyota Corolla car then. It was easy to deal with those ones.
I simply asked them why it was okay for me to be in a male-dominated profession where as a nursing mother I spent Thursday nights in the office as editor of The Post Express on Saturday (and my baby girl had to wait all day and all night till Friday morning to be breast-fed) but it was wrong for me to drive a ‘male car’. They had no answer. Case dismissed. Then there were those who had nothing good to say about Mercedes Benz 190.
They told me it was difficult and expensive to maintain. It was a troublesome car. Its parts were hard to find and its engine could knock from over-heating anytime. Now, those factors would scare anybody in a country of bad roads and flooded streets and endless traffic jams. In the course of trying to make up my mind whether to buy this male car or opt for a female one, I discovered that none of the people who ran down Benz 190 had ever owned one.
They were simply passing on old wives tales that someone told them. If they had never owned the brand how come they knew so much about it? I pooh-poohed their theories and went on to buy the car. It was a wise decision and Benz 190 turned out to be one of the best cars I have ever driven and maintained. I drove it until one of my brothers nicely ‘dispossessed’ me of it.
He said he enjoyed it too. After that I bought a car based on if I liked it and on the informed opinions of those who have owned the brand or are currently driving it. So, when Alhaji Aliko Dangote on Wednesday said in the next four or five years, Nigeria will be struggling with America to sell oil to China, my jaw almost dropped. Then he said struggling to invest in gas in the current world is moot unless Nigeria or any other country for that matter, wants it for local consumption.
But when he said our oil which we think is the greatest thing to happen to the world since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden will soon become irrelevant and our economy will finally know the true definition of trouble. In his real words: the consequences of our continuing dependence on oil is going to be worse than Boko Haram. At that point, my jaw finally dropped on the breakfast table. Such heavy stuff coming from Dangote is frightening.
Unlike those advisers of mine who had nothing to say about Benz 190 even when they had never bought one, here is a man who knows, has weathered the storms of our testy economic terrain and successfully stamped his name on the world economic map. It is not like we hadn’t heard that our oil could dry up or its loot disappear before. The power-point wielding whiz kids had shown us maps and percentages and frightening graphs of the impending doom several times. But a Dangote confirming it is like a man who drives only Mercedes Benz telling you how the car runs.
Whose other report is there for you to believe. You could say the Harvard economists are talking theories and stuff they got from Google or Economic Confidential but if the richest man in Africa says the colour of the naira has changed, then you’d better check your wallet. I believe Dangote and I think we all should be worried. If a well-traveled billionaire tells you that there is no country in Africa more blessed than Nigeria, do you doubt him?
Not that we didn’t know the extent of our blessing. God has been very partial to us. We are simply not a thinking nation. When next you travel by road, note the trees that grow on our rocks and mountains. Check out the hundreds of kilometers of virgin forests we leave to grow wild. We are just a bunch of crazy spoilt rich kids drunk on inherited easy wealth. We are convinced that this money will always be there, that our crude oil can never run dry.
So we continue to careen from one disaster to another, running around like headless chickens, doing nothing but spend money we do not have to work for. We pay top price for the worst fuel. We can’t stop oil theft. We can’t farm. We can’t even set up food processing industries. We make money and share it as soon as it is made and return the following month to share the next set of our oil loot. According to Dangote, at the rate at which our population is growing, we should hit the 200m round figure by 2020.
Now, how does an unthinking, un-planning and undiversified economy feed 200million people importing rice and sugar? Are you worried? I am trying not to go into a panic mode. Our leaders are not planning for the future. They are worried about sharing formula and oil derivation percentages. Nigerians are perhaps the most intelligent, aggressive entrepreneurs in the world but what is the good of good sense kept in the freezer?
What is the use of enormous resources that we ignore? In Brazil, it takes about $ 100 to clear a container but in Nigeria, our congested port system still shamelessly charge about $ 1000. What do you expect from a nation whose population and economy is growing per minute but built its last port in 1978!? My brother who was born that year is married.
What kind of adjectives would you deploy in describing parents of a child born in 1978 if all they think the young man needs is feeding bottles, baby formula and baby boots, and yes diapers? A man who knows this brand has spoken. A trader who made his billions here has warned us: when our oil wealth disappears, Boko Haram would look like Tom and Jerry television cartoon series. Happy birthday again, Aliko Dangote.
Re: A little powder in your soup
I am a real big fan of yours. Every week, I look forward to your next article. With respect to your article ‘A little powder in your soup’, Let me quickly say that I agree with you that most men ‘ask’ for the love portion. However, majority of the victims of this love portion syndrome are single men who are manipulated into getting married to ladies who gave them the love portion.
–Obinna from UNIZIK AWKA. email@example.com
You have made me an addict of the Sunday Sun by your incisive articles. This epic one is unequalled. “ Don’t be silly is an advice” as my late father always told me. Your essay is an honest but very important advice to adventurous boys and men that they should be careful because many have gone. Same for some extremely beautiful or rich ladies. Randy gold-diggers abound and are ready to wreck havoc. Those who have ear let them hear! –firstname.lastname@example.org
Most times stories about this powder thing sound like fairy tales. But then, when you observe some men who are, supposedly, in love, you cannot help but wonder if bewitched is not a better description of their state. As for the doctor, he must have learnt that ‘what kills a man begins as an appetite to him’. However, both the feeder and the sucker should visit the Synagogue – the one for a celestial certification of the ‘NAFDAC no.’ of the mammary product and the other for deliverance.
Re: Before I divorce Nigeria
Nigeria is a husband who is not faithful to his wife due to many distractions from his concubines among which are corruption, tribalism, nepotism, insecurity, unemployment, poverty among others. Posterity will always remember for your contributions to social order and good governance in Nigeria.
–Franklin Chinaemerem, Owerri. email@example.com
An Egbemode-ish piece with the usual sarcasm and passion. That’s by the way.
Nigerians are wont to say that our problems started in 1914 when Lord Lugard fused the North and the South. But I definitely know our problems did not start then. I was born in the 1980s, but I did hear that Nigeria was metaphorically a land flowing with milk and honey, even long after the Lugard political adventure.
So, when and how did it all change? It started when our leaders decided to forgo the essence of public service for the lure of personal aggrandizement.
It is very doubtful that a country that celebrates corrupt and inept leadership will progress. And to top that, the soul of the country is mired in an economic formula that only benefits the rich, while it inches dangerously everyday towards total collapse owing to high rate of insecurity and injustice.
Those who still think Lugs did our country a disservice should ask our leaders to be true to their oaths of offices. If that happens, I’m sure we will be too comfortable to even remember that Lord Lugs ever existed. But the point is that our leaders will never change. Corruption is not their second wife like you pointed in your article; it is their soul mate, their first love.