By Ediri Ejoh
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, yesterday blamed the multinational corporations, IOCs, colonialism as well as greed emanating from oil discovery for the debilitating state of the country’s economy and current crisis across its regions.
Kuka spoke in Lagos at the industry stakeholders’ lecture to mark the 60th birthday of the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Austin Avuru’s.
According to him, “Many people have referred to oil as a curse, but my argument is that it is an illusion, I don’t believe oil is a curse to Nigeria. Having oil was never meant to be a curse. I think what is important to ask ourselves is ‘what did we do with our oil. Perhaps it has shut the creativity part of our brain; perhaps Nigeria without oil would help us to think more clearly about what our future might look like.
“We are where we are because the multi-national corporations, colonialism destroyed our country. It is clear because everywhere you look – be it factory, health, education, roads, etc, and all the things that were left behind for us, we have proven to be incapable. So the idea that we can outsource our obligations and responsibility to external forces does not address the problem”.
“I would say that no game can progress without a commitment to the rules of engagement. We substituted military for civilian rule and many years later we are unable to democratise. Whether it is defection today or carpet crossing it is evident that something is internally wrong with us. The point is that we must return to the sense of rules of engagement.
“The second is to subscribe to the proposition that democracy is not only about rules and regulations, elections, or politicians. We must submit and commit ourselves to the fact that each and every one of us has a role to play in the development of our country and the quality of our politics is such that it does not redeem itself. A Nigeria with or without oil must be committed to the post-legitimate pursuit of happiness of each of its citizens.”
In his presentation on “60 years later: Preparing for a Nigeria without oil”, Co, Founder/Former CEO, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Fola Adeola, said Nigeria was in need of strong and solid visionary leadership.
He said, “Nigeria needs strong and solid visionary leadership. This is in addition to character, integrity and good intentions. Good governance at this point of our country requires vision, discipline, execution capacity, drive, energy and a commitment to continuous value and adaptation. It is a long road but we must start.”
Identifying strategies needed to develop the country’s economy, he noted that “The things we must do in my humble opinion, fall into three categories. The first is the Software approach – ie, the real coding of our population to a different future. The second is the Hardware- in this case, the building of future relevant national infrastructure with an emphasis on future relevance. The third is the internet of us, in other words, the connection of our real coded population, enabled by our future relevant infrastructure with the priorities of a world 50yrs from now.
“The software piece of the puzzle requires us to take this population and reorient them for productivity over consumption. We must capacitate our people. To do this, there are some non-negotiable aspects of the economy which are; health, education, re-orientation, and the population control as unhealthy people cannot be participants in a productive workforce. And it is not possible to plan for a population that continues to spiral out of control.