- Category: POLITICS
- Published on Monday, 07 May 2012 13:20
- Written by Abdulaziz Abdulaziz
Tayeb Salih's award-winning 1966 novel, Season of Migration to the North, came to mind when the news broke, penultimate week, that our neighbour to the north, Niger Republic, has sealed the deal that would enable it export refined petrol to Nigeria. Niger is a nation looked down upon by many a Nigerian. “Niger of all nations”
many Nigerians quipped in reaction to the story. To many, the development was an insult and shameful disgrace to Nigeria. Alas. Their gain, our loss!
“Niger” says its minister of Energy and Petroleum, Foumakoye Gado, “currently produces and refines 20,000 barrels of crude oil per day”. Out of that quantity, he said, the country only consumes about 7,000 barrels per day. It is, therefore, the remaining 13,000 barrels that could not be put into use that Niger wants to export for us. No wonder that the newfound oil bride is strutting its way into the African Petroleum Producers Association (APPA). One thing striking, however, is that Nigeria currently produces 125 percent crude oil higher than Niger, at the current estimated capacity of 2.5 barrels per day! The difference, however, is in commitment and seriousness.
Yet again, the sudden elevation of Niger and its match to the altar of self-sufficient nations further deflates the status of Nigeria as the self-acclaimed giant of Africa. Once again, like in the case of several African countries (Ghana especially), the nationals of Niger Republic that are often harassed, insulted and accused for all ‘crimes’ from armed robbery to street begging would now begin to return to their newly prosperous country. Yes, Nigerians could be accommodating yet, at some time, arrogantly pompous to those considered inferior. Thus, any water vendor in Nigeria, commercial motorcyclist or watchmen at the palatial mansions in Maitama or Ikoyi, is primarily an aboki from Niger. Niger was (or, is) an anathema and it is quite insult to be called a Nigerien. Heavens, I am afraid, our maltreatment of our neighbours is fast catching with us as it happened with Ghana.
The days of Nigeria's industrial revolution and oil boom are gone for good. while the oil wealth turned to proverbial blood that does not quench thirst, our industries that hitherto fanned proliferation of quasi-middle class bourgeois, many of them foreigners, have been exhumed by outrageous power outage. Growing up in Kano, as lately as the 1980s, in the tailoring hub of Fagge, I found the presence of Ghanians rather overwhelming. Expertly as they were in tailoring, they owned must tailoring workshops found in at least one out of every three houses in the area. However, presently, to locate a Ghanian tailor in Fagge is as tiring as pointing a Briton in Baghdad. The infamous repatriation of foreigners in the late 1970s, which led to the coinage of “Ghana must go” terminology, has turn around to be a huge irony for us.
And for these youthful retirees, the affairs of the world became akin to the one depicted by the redoubtable Ghanian poet, Kofi Awonoor; there unease dilemma. While their jobs were prematurely terminated, other avenues for possible exploration are virtually excruciated by a plethora of factors. The investment climate in this clime is nothing but attractive. I know of courageous investors who fought tough to save their businesses but lost such dogged fights and painfully and helplessly watched as their modest investments crumbled before their eyes. And, to add salt it injury, as the cliché goes, bombs are flying high all over, driving the final nail into the coffin of businesses especially in the north.
It is no longer news that hundreds of Nigerians are flooding Ghana to pursue education while a number of entrepreneurs with adequate fortune have been falling over themselves to outdo one another in pitching the tent of their businesses in clement environment that is Ghana of today. There is a government in place that aims to take the country higher. There is stable power supply (the erratic nature of which exhausted several businesses into their untimely graves in Nigeria!) and, thanks to a qualitative educational system, there are better educated young men and women to service one’s business with alacrity. What more does an investor requires?
Abdulaziz is a writer and activist based in Kano;