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Resource control in Nigeria

Resource control,hereby defined as the control and management of resources by state or local governments from whose jurisdictions the resources are extracted,is key to the emergence of a modern federal Nigeria.The states or local governments would manage the resources from their territories under federal guidelines(especially,environmental ones) , and then remit taxes to the federal centre.For me, a truly federal Nigeria would have a centre which is almost fully dependent on taxation for it’s running.With it’s income much reduced,it would be  far less attractive to political entreprenuers,thus reducing competition for it’s control and the attendant problems.

Make no mistake about it,Nigeria as presently run is a trustfund state:Like most countries in Africa,the central government commandeers  the process of extracting it’s natural resources,and then having this pot of money,dispenses patronage as it pleases(apart from allocations to the states or local governments,think of the numerous white elephant projects,primarily designed to siphon public funds).Having unlimited income as a result of it’s total control of the extraction process,the federal government has no great need to look towards taxation as a source of income.My theory here is that no government can be accountable unless the people demand it,and the people will not demand accountability and probity unless their taxes  almost solely pay for the running of the government.In other words,no representation without taxation.

Resource control will also help curb corruption at every level of government.At the centre,with greatly reduced income,profligacy is bound to fall.At the state and local levels,once people come to realise that the shots are been called from their local capitals, which are accessible,rather than Abuja which is not,they are bound to impose themselves, eventually.

Resource control will also accelerate the process of development,by forcing the states and local governments,with allocations from the centre greatly reduced or non-existent,to develop the resources within their jurisdiction in other to survive.Every state has something.They just have not been given the motivation to explore their riches.The need to survive,in the face of limited or zero allocation,would prove ample incentive.

The argument that these communities cannot manage their resources, because of the performance of certain elected officials, is spurious.Extremely so.First,the period of time in question is too short.Second,the shots are still be called from Abuja,so the people do not feel moving against the guys in Port-harcourt or Yenagoa would change anything.Finally,can anyone say,with a straight face,that the guys in Abuja,over the years,have been better stewards of public funds than the guys in Port-harcourt or Yenagoa?I think not.

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10 responses to “Resource control in Nigeria

  1. codliveroil September 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve read the previous article on Resource Control.

    I do agree with the idea that the states should control the bulk of
    their revenues. This idea was touted a long time back when the leaders
    of the oil producing states said they should keep 50% of their wealth. Then over each year their allocation would increase by 5% until it reached 100%, to allow time for the non-oil producing states to adjust. They argued this peacefully and were ignored, then the violence
    (militancy) came and they received a little more (in revenue), but still not enough.

    The problem with this is with the majority of non-oil producing
    states the elites would suffer disproportionately, as most of their
    wealth is not deserved or legitimate. The most extreme culprits of this
    can be found in the Sharia states, were violence is constantly used as
    the lubricant to keep the petro-dollars rolling into state coffers. If the violence is not informally executed by means of the almajiri, then it is official with many weapons of mass destruction positioned in thenorth, but are targeted at southern cities, not to mention the Joint task force, deployed in the oil producing areas.

    People have to realise, that there are disparities in income, and in the short and medium term, they will have to get used to some states performing better than others. As you said, each state will have to tap what resources it has, be it agriculture, mining, fishing, manufacturing, services etc. More emphasis should be placed on developing these activities rather than becoming isolationist and intolerant, as witnessed the retreat into ethnic enclaves, or the establishment of the Sharia divide, both of which have been shown to be wholly unsuccessful. Those whose efforts have gone into the unproductive tasks of segregation should be swept aside, so that those who can create sustainable employment and development can replace them.

    Resource control in itself is not a be all and end all. People have
    place curbs on spending and a drive must be made show that the money
    is being spent wisely, fairly and sensibly. Which is not the case at any level of government. The two

    1) resource control
    and
    2) accountability and transparency

    have to go hand-in-hand, one without the other won’t work.

    The question is, if the centre is rendered powerless, what is there
    to keep Nigeria together?

    • henryik2009 September 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.The center will not be rendered powerless.The center would be funded by taxes.The idea is that people are more likely to demand for accountability and transparency if they were funding the government through their money(taxes),than if the government were being run through a trust-fund,as is the case now.I am sure you agree that the present arrangements have not guaranteed accountability and transparency.Once people demand for probity the government would have no choice but to give in.The reason our people cannot act against government now is because they do not really feel robbed. At the state level,once people realize that the buck stops at the state house,they can exert more pressure and control on the government,given the proximity of the seat of power.They need no longer look to faraway Abuja for their problems or solutions.The reason people are not putting their governors under pressure is simply that they do not believe that state governments have the power or freedom to make a difference.Our people believe power is concentrated at the center.Only resource control can change this. The main reason there is so much mutual suspicion between our people,is because there is this pot of oil to fight over.And so we fight.Remove this pot of money,and i think we have enough education to recognize that,there is strength in diversity and size. Please check out these posts:no representation without taxation;China,open society and mass action.

  2. codliveroil September 16, 2010 at 8:25 am

    HenryIk, I will check out those posts.

    But why are people fighting for something that isn’t theirs. The oil wealth belongs to the oil producing states, it’s as simple as that. They should only pay their share of what is necessary to keep the federal bodies functioning, like the army, police etc.

    Why preoccupy yourself with trying to take what is not yours by right. Rather than devoting yourself to developing your own resources. That way you will be more independent, respected and others will be more inclined to co-operate more. The non-oil producing states have to learn to grow up and realise the oil producing states at this point in time are many times wealthier than they are. Why is this thinking lost amongst the rulers of the non-oil producing states? Why are they so immature and backward? Why are they there?

    • henryik2009 September 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.The states will never look inwards until they are faced with starvation.As long as they receive these monthly allowances,there is simply no motivation for a rent-seeking elite to work.And because the people are not being taxed,they could not care less.Because to the majority of the people,the money might as well be coming from outer space.Given our level of development,you need 16 years of education and then some,to appreciate how the government works.For the majority of our people,there is no deep conviction that the government is stealing from them.After all the government has not come to take or steal their ancestral lands. This is where taxation comes in.When people are made to pay taxes,they will demand accountability from the government.They won’t stand for public officials stealing their money.And the government cannot resist a determined people.If you remember,during the colonial period,when we had no oil,people always resisted and rebelled because of ‘gofment’ taxes.Remember the American revolution?This is where resource control comes in.While there are good moral reasons for advocating it,my attachment to it is functional.Our people,at both governmental and individual levels,will not sit up and face the duty of national development,until it is clear that there is no option if we are to survive.

  3. codliveroil September 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    I see, this begs the question, why do you not subscribe to that point of view. A point of view which is negative and destructive.

    You don’t have to be taxed to realise, that you have rights. If you are a citizen , there are certain rights and responsibilities the government is meant to uphold. It goes the other way also, citizens are meant to act within the laws of the land.

    We are living in the internet age, where communications are rapid. When you look around Nigeria, things are in a state of disrepair and collapse, things don’t work properly that is if they do work at all. Do things have to be this way, if you look around the world, people are working to improve their lot. So why is this satisfaction with such low consciousness the norm in Nigeria? Why do you not subscribe to it?

    Thank you for this blog.

    • henryik2009 September 17, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.That is precisely the point.Nigerians are not politically conscious.We are alienated from governance.My idea is that taxation,at some point,will force us to sit up,as it did during the colonial era.

  4. codliveroil September 17, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    But why haven’t you subscribed to the current prevailing negative mood? What made you open your eyes?

    • henryik2009 September 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

      Codliveroil Thanks for your comment.Living in Port-Harcourt,the center of resource control agitation,i was forced to confront the issue.After much hard thought,and the binging of the military governments that preceded the return of our latest republic,i came round to the view that,given Abuja has not proved itself better managers of the oil money,the states should be the focus of national development.Every thing that has happened since the return of the politicians,has served confirm my position.

  5. codliveroil September 22, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Henryik, thank you for your answer. It is a shame that this point of view is not more widely held amongst Nigerians, especially the so-called “elites”.

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