Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I recently asserted that the drop in Nigeria's oil revenue could be a silver lining because it could motivate all levels of government to diversify their source of income and reinvigorate many ailing domestic industries. Some readers correctly pointed to Lagos State which has managed to generate money independent of the oil money it receives from the federal government. In fact, in 2007 Lagos State achieved a GDP of N3.68 trillion ($29.028 billion). Other readers questioned the idea that many state governors would work to not rely on the oil wealth they currently depend upon.

A recent article in the Washington Post reinforced that there are definitely state governments that are comfortable depending on the federal government for money instead of thinking of innovative ways to create money that can then supplement that received from oil. The article, "In Nigeria, Sharia Law Fails to Deliver", looked at how states practicing Sharia law remained poor and corrupt despite the early promises that Sharia law would protect citizens and create better democratic governments.

Source: Washington Post Gallery Online

Specifically, a spokesperson for the governor of Kano, Sule Ya'u Sule, discussed teh discontent felt by the people, particularly when they see their representatives living well. The spokesman explained that the people forget that officials need decent clothing, cars and houses and that does not mean said officials are corrupt. He then went on to lament that,
"The federal government only gives you a little amount every month. And it is that amount that it expects you to use to develop the state,"
"This money is not enough to finish this work and distribute it to the needy." 
Sule's statement reinforces what is wrong with Nigeria - he equates the people with the needy,almost as if they are beggars. In reality, the "needy" should be considered the state government's bosses, for whom the government works, not gives alms to. There is little need to "distibute ... to the needy" if the money received from the federal government is actually used to improve living conditions via education, clean water, electricity, and other necessities that are actually a fundamental right in this day and age.

More importantly, the failure to acknowledge that the state has other means of generating income illustrates that the reliance on Nigeria's oil wealth has generated extreme laziness and lack of vision in many leaders who instead of working with the people to create solutions, use religion, ethnicity and violence to wage campaigns of fear and maintain their extremely profitable positions of power. It is a shame that the people, who have the power of numbers, are yet to put their foot down and take the concrete actions necessary to solve their own problems. Instead, they continue to be manipulated by not just politicians, as was the case in Jos, but the likes of those who created and tacitly supported extremists like Boko Haram. Or, allow those who steal carelessly placed public money in Bauchi State to go unpunished, leaving many without paychecks. But in a country like Nigeria where so many are poor, undereducated and simply struggling to survive, it is understandable that the average individual is primarily focused on survival. Despite this, it is ultimately up to those who feel the pain the hardest to find a remedy. Hopefully that remedy will come sooner, rather than later.

From the Archives:
- Nigeria's Oil Revenue Cut In Half
- Nigeria's Oil Expiration Date Draws Near
- No Longer King of African Crude?
- Boko Haram: Questions Remain
- Militants in Northern Nigeria?
- Nigeria-List of Intolerant Nations
- Religious & Political Violence in Jos

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io said...

"The federal government only gives you a little amount every month. And it is that amount that it expects you to use to develop the state,"
"This money is not enough to finish this work and distribute it to the needy."

the above quote does really sum up a whole lot of things that need to be worked on. most politicians in nigeria today seek political office(especially the executive) without figuring out how to finance all the fake promises they make while on the campaign trail. hopefully we the people would start asking them to state how the intend to fund all their fake promises.

plastiQQ said...

First of all we need to make them reconnect with their conscience and learn, again, what 'shame' means. I would easily say the average Nigerian is complicit, with their silence...but reading the end part of this post, I realize you have analysed the Nigerian mind properly (impoverished, uneducated, unaware of his rights)

Sadness* Madness*

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course that is right. Drop in oil revenue should cause a rethink on our heavy reliance on oil, the problem is the thickness of our leaders. Do you think they have the depth to think that far? Are they worried?
What they would do is instead steal as much as they can before the oil goes.

- Akintokunbo Adejumo (from FB)

N.I.M.M.O said...

When they were promoting Sharia, they used images of Dubai (UAE) as a model of sharia that had worked and the people believed them.

Ten years on, they have failed to deliver on even the tiniest aspect of their promise and of course they blame it on dwindling oil income.

Let us hope that what is happening in Lagos will make Nigerians sit up and realize that whatever development you get comes from the taxes you pay and not from some mythical 'national cake'.

The 'cake' is for sharing and consumption, taxes are for development.

This does not affect the North alone; it happens everywhere in Nigeria.

webround said...

'Sule's statement reinforces what is wrong with Nigeria - he equates the people with the needy,almost as if they are beggars'...you are right.

the official's statement shows what is fundamentally wrong. govt officials are not thinking of how to generate funds for the state but instead are fixated on the idea that the federal govt owes them 'salary' (i.e. monthly allocation) and they are demanding for 'wage increase'.

Concerned Citizen said...

Okay, before we point fingers about over reliance of oil, you have to compare the amount of money that the states receive from the government. The northern states receive chicken change compared to what the oil producing states get. Which is fair. But what annoys me is that while it is fair for the southern states get their lump sums, it is also fair to allocate public funds to the states based on their populations. I'm not saying they should get as much as the Niger Deltan states, i'm just saying that compared to the population of the north, the funding they get is not nearly enough to get by let alone provide necessities for the population ie water, electricity, health. that's why you see the concept of almajiranci continuing. When the census results come out everyone shouts "it's a lie, they can't be that many people in the north" That's what makes them needy. There are so many people chasing after very few jobs. The region suffers from brain drain. There are not enough resources for the people there and it is fact.

This has nothing to do with Sharia. The states are still running under a democracy aren't they? If anything, Sharia law is only used on the magistrate level, not with governance.

Why extrapolate a statement spoken by Kano state as a reflection of all northern states? It's this us vs. them mentality that really irks me between northern and southern Nigerians. If there's a problem, its our problem as Nigerians. You won't believe the amount of xenophobia I face as a Hausa person from something that has happened in Maiduguri, a place I have never been to and a place that's not even a Hausa speaking state.

why is it so easy to assume that the northern states are relying on oil money? Every state needs money, whether it be from oil or industry. some states are not as fortunate as other states. Some states did not win the geological lottery. Speaking about people going unpunished. How was Ibori punished? What has happened to Odili? What about Alameisiyagha? They siphoned money from their people and angered the MEND terribly. Yet, at the end of the day, everyone says "The north is responsible for depleting the oil money."

Not every leader in the North is corrupt, just like not every leader in the south is corrupt. This is a national issue and doesn't really have anything to do with violence, tribalsm, religion or even ethnicity as you have tagged it.

Lagos could only have made it so well because it was once a capital and therefore, it is packed with infrastructure by the national govt. that was meant. That's not to say there are no hardworking people in Lagos. But if there are 10 hard working people in Lagos and 10 hardworking people in Kano, those in Lagos are more likely to succeed because they have the means, the infrastructure.

When Nigeria depended on food from the north as the source of revenue, nobody suffered. now, the government has neglected the agriculture on the north to focus solely on the oil and as a result, the northern agriculture sector has withered away. Nothing is being done about the dangers of desert encroachment that has rendered thousands of hectares of land infertile over the years. Nothing is being done to stop this. The land is arid, the pastures are dried out. Rearers have to travel very far to graze their animals. The states can only try to fix this but it all remains that to carry out these actions, funding is crucial.

ThePsychoticDramaQueen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Concerned Citizen said...

Having lived in the both the north and south for a considerable amount of time, it is fair to say that a state like Kano doesn't solely rely on Oil money. kano is a very industrial state. You need to see it to believe it.

Solomonsydelle, you mentioned in an earlier post that you haven't had much contact with northern nigerians. So therefore, you can only have a one sided view. perhaps a visit to the north will help open your mind immensely. It is very easy to be in Maryland and write out about the state of northern nigeria. Many people that comment on the north have never ever set foot there. how then can this one sided media ever give a balance on the information you receive about the region?


@ Concerned Citizen: I do not believe that you took the time necessary to read this post thoroughly. Nor do I think you took the time to reference the links that were provided to get a full sense of the conversation we are having here. You have clearly misread this post, because at no point was this post a mere criticism of the Kano state officials, or Northern State officials. It was a discussion of my observation of state governments across Nigeria, and a continuation of a very engaged discussion we were having at this blog sometime back. Hence, the post opened with a reference to whether or not a drop in oil revenue could be a silver lining (link included).

As to a state like Kano not getting enough money from the federal government, that might be right, but I highly doubt it. If the money is allocated based on population (as you have suggested) then locations with smaller populations should definitely not get the same amount as a state with a larger population. The key issue for us all to take away at this point is whether or not our leaders are taking the time necessary to think outside the box and not simply rely on oil income from the government to take care of what needs to be taken care of regardless of where the necessary money comes from. So, if Kano, for instance, does not get "enough" to finance the governor's lifestyle and take care of the state's "needy" (a derogatory way to refer to those who have a right to have their state government function on their behalf), are the people of Kano supposed to just sit there with a government that does nothing? Or should the government work in conjunction with citizens to find creative ways to improve the standard of living?

Glad you referred to Lagos as a working state. I see you also mention that Lagos has more "infrastructure". As I have never been to Kano before, you might be right. But, that does not change the fact that in all the years Kano and other states have been in existence, they could not have used their 'oil money' efficiently to leapfrog ahead of where they are now. That they have failed to do that is not the fault of Lagos or any other state where leaders and citizens are trying to do better without resorting to the lowest common denominator of religion, fear and violence.

I won't even begin to discuss "food from the north", because again, if the North or any other part of the region was smart, they would take it upon themselves to ensure that they are crucial and cannot be discounted. Then again, to do so would require thinking outside the box, and as long as oil allows 'leaders' to be lazy, their citizens will leave for better prospects and those who remain...well....


@ Concerned Citizen: I see you also took the time to make mention of where I live and take some time to criticize whether or not I have a right to comment on how Northern governors run things. Besides, the north is just as big a part of Nigeria as any other part of Nigeria that myself and readers discuss. For you to question our right to do so is disingenuous and definitely not in the spirit of what Nigerian Curiosity is about. Check the extreme right sidebar and the bottom of the page if clarification is needed. Well, it is equally very easy for you to dismiss the needs of those that are suffering, yet take the time to anonymously question and criticize those of us with true intentions trying to engage each other in discussions, problem solving and action on behalf of not ourselves but the less fortunate. And just for the record, I have in fact, lived in the north. As did my mother and her father. And, even if that was not the case, I would have ever right to comment, question and yes, criticize any aspect of Nigerian society that I have taken the time to learn about and find large holes in what should otherwise make sense. You also have the right to do the same, though you may choose not to apply it, but that is a choice you make for yourself and cannot take away from me or anyone else. Sorry, if you think that is harsh, but I feel no need to sugar coat things.

But nevertheless, I appreciate that you would take time from your busy schedule to engage all of us with your thoughts and encourage you to continue, especially since you refer to one-sided media with regard to the north. If there is especially something about the north you would like us to know, please feel free to share that information so that myself, other Nigerians and non-Nigerians may learn and engage you in a discussion on that matter. After all, we are all here to learn from one another through discussion and sometimes heated, but courteous debate.

Take care.

The Activist said...

I will try not to get into the debate. I feel all state needs to generate income that is totally different from their allocation. What happen to agriculture? What happen to other avenue they can tap into? Why do we want the government to give the need peanuts when they need jobs.

We need to learn to rise above difficult situations we find ourselves. Learning to develop is note worthy!

Anonymous said...

It would be fantastic if the govt handles income from oil the way Norway does.

Whether the feds and states prepare for it or not, the end of oil for Nigeria is coming ( i think this may be a good, if painful development for the country). The states that have no other sources of income will struggle badly.

I don't really want to go into a response to Concerned Citizen's points, i'd be here forever. Reading that comment reminded me of just how little benefit the whole country is getting from oil revenue. There are no tribes living large on oil money contrary to the impression that some may have.

io said...

Concerned citizen. Please do share more of ur views on things. If u have a blog please do share.

TheJunkie said...

@Concerned citizen, I doubt that was the general idea of this post, the point, I think, is allocation does not work. if anything at all, it should be ssen as a form of subsidy not the main and in most cases, only source of funds. In the end, it is not about who gets the fund/doesn't get enough funds. The real issue should be considering other methods, the only 'benefit' anyone has got from having funds distributed that way is the increase in someone's bank account in a remote place. I suggest any one interested in this should check out the change lagos chamber of commerce is pushing for.

t said...

Our people are confused. Our people think leaders must be rich. Our people discriminate ruthlessly against the poor like themselves. Our people worship money. Our people worship stupid fashion. Our people must wake up and kick out any leaders that are not there merely as servants to the people. Until then...oh well, the chopchop continues.

public works environment said...

A recent article in the Washington Post reinforced that there are definitely state governments that are comfortable depending on the public works environment for money instead of thinking of innovative ways to create money that can then supplement that received from oil.

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