FEATURE ARTICLE

Chris ApologunFriday, May 12, 2006
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OBJ AND THE FIRST LAW OF PETROPOLITICS


he world-renowned author, journalist and a three time Pulitzer winner with New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman, has thrown up an academic observation that will capture the world 's attention particularly policy makers for a very long time to come. Like many of his works that has generated a lot of reactions and controversies in the past, his latest work published in the current foreign policy journal of the United States, titled the first law of petroplitics makes a very interesting reading. The whole observation will make a citizen of the countries rightly observed in this research work indignant and frustrated about the happenings that are so heart -wrenching. Recently he was also on CNN to answer some questions about this curious but true law that seems to be taking root more poignantly in these oil rich but economically sick countries.


The first law of petropolitics as postulated in his [Thomas L. Friedman] journal is basically saying that the increase in world's oil prices though hurting the western economies does not translate into improvement of lives in the developing country producers, rather it makes life worse and more miserable for the dwellers of these countries. Observing that rather than using the excess or unexpected income occasion by the increment in price of this Natural resources in providing social amenities, creating jobs, investing on real sector futuristic ventures that will guarantee further continuous income, the leaders of these countries continues to waste the monies by turning themselves into dictators. These dictators because of this excessive petrol dollars buy- off opposition, bribe to compromise elected leaders, recruit and equip more state secretary operators, police and other government agencies to harass, intimidate, blackmail, threaten, assassinate and jail perceived political enemies with impunity.

As this idea may sound unbelievable, it's is shockingly true and a real eye opener to all, including the western world that have deliberately overlooked this over the years .He brought world 's attention to the countries of today who totally fits in to this unfortunate phenomenon. Countries like Venezuela where an eccentric president, Hugo Chavez is nationalising the vast oil resources systematically to make him have unmitigated access to huge sums of money which is using to purchase the press and of course muzzle the opposition that cannot be bought with money. He is virtually holding sway in Venezuela as a demo god where he regularly demonise the united sates of America as the cause of their declining economic fortune which he could never find answers to with his weird economic methods.

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Russia has recently and suddenly fond a new voice cum bite again in the international community using oil as the new tool to whip his neighbours into line. Her new power resulting from the all time high prices of oil also help Vladimir Putin to create a country that no opposition dare raise a dissenting voice else is jailed like his former rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky for a trump-up tax evasion charges, whom actual 'crime' was funding opposition, While his cronies like the Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is waxing stronger and stronger in billions of Russian's oil money arranged under his nose

Iranian president, Mahmound Ahmadinejad empowered by this same oil windfall is tuning himself in to a lunatic that is enriching uranium an essential building block and a pre-requisite to manufacturing nuclear bomb. All his eyes are set on Israel, which he threatens now and then. What happens to the life of an average Iranian man on the street that is on a perpetual down ward slope is inconsequential, so far Israel, to him is wiped off the world's map.

United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and so on, though appeared somewhat stable, knows no democracy. Their huge oil wealth is in the hands of few people who are arguably the riches men in the world today and in their own wisdom dispense token to those they should hold the collective wealth in trust for. Nobody asks questions here because they are either being bought or blinded by an equally heavily sponsored state religion to take away any form of dissent.

It is not surprising that Nigeria being the 6th largest producer of this money spinning crude would have being tested against this law before hitting the reading world. And of course our country fits in totally in this law of petropolitics as been propounded by Thomas L. Friedman. The Nigerian example is particular pathetic considering the events that are unfolding daily to the consternation of the whole wide world. It is like Friedman whole research into this old but recently appraised paradigm centred on Nigeria, present and the immediate future that we wake up to day- in, day- out.

If not how can someone explain the absurdity that is going on in Nigeria now in the name of realising an illegal third term that was craftily being denied by the agents that were pushing it some months back. Despite the fact that the price of petroleum has risen to a record high where billions of dollars has being racked into government coffers, has the life of the common man in the street improved? Has the basic social amenities of water, roads, shelter and power improved? Has the unemployment situation improved? The answer of -course is a resounding NO. I know as a fact that portable water does not run in over 70% of Nigerian homes. I know, as a fact that despite the billions of naira meant for our roads Tony Anineh could not account for it while the roads are still in bad shape. I know as a fact that despite the billons OBJ claimed to have sunk into Nepa or Power Holding, power supply has sunk into an all- time low. I know as a fact that the army of the employed youths are growing by the day.

Instead of OBJ admitting to these failures and charting a sincere way forward via a transparent free and fair election for others to try and solve the enormous problem that are confronting Nigerians, he is buoyed by the crisp petrodollars that is pouring in like tropical rain from increment in crude oil prices to cling to power unnecessarily and illegitimately through a riotous on-going constitutional amendment and other foul means.

OBJ is presently working hard to buy opposing with huge devilish amounts of money, recruiting and equipping private security agents, SSS , the police, EFCC, ICPC to blackmail, intimidate assassinate threaten and hound dissenting voices in PDP and in Nigeria as a whole for kicking against his evil intention .Instead of dialoguing with the youths in arms in the Niger-Delta he has arrested and still laying ambush for the dwellers there with sophisticated weapons thus confirming the first law of petroplolitcs.

Excessive petrodollars that is accruing everyday is making him to be bolder and more daring, making him to go all out to give a first instalment of N50m to senators, N40m to house of representatives, N10m to state house of assemblies as widely reported by all Nigerian media houses. Various some of monies that has being spent or further voted to see this agenda through are further indictment of severe corruption on OBJ's part while majority of Nigerians wallow in abject poverty.

OBJ and his cohorts should note that the whole world is watching and recording what is transpiring, so that where-ever he goes during this twilight period of his administration and preach an anti-corruption crusade would be a mockery of himself because it will be ludicrous for any body to believe and trust him again. His none invitation to an impending G8 meeting in Moscow is just the beginning of unpleasant reactions to come from all quarters. He should realise that his third term is already a failed project, because Nigerians have started resisting and will resist it to the fullest. He will only continue to waste the windfall that we ought to have utilised to develop and flourish as a country.

He should however not be oblivious of the fact that the money is dolling out now is our money; we shall one day call him and others to account for it. We all know that OTA farms, Festus Odimegwu and other private sector presidential dealers do not make so much money that could be thrown into a moribund project called third term.