Dr Jekwu Ozoemene, Port Harcourt, Rivers State: There is something to be said about an education that does not prepare its recipients to properly interrogate ideas and issues.
This education (or lack of it) is partly responsible for the poverty of ideas, the poor quality of debate/discourse in Nigeria’s public space and the anti-intellectualism that we are faced with today.
A document from the Presidency (circulating on social media) instructing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigerian Petroleum Development Company to take over the operation of OML 11 has sent zealots into a rabid frenzy of impotent celebration.
OML is currently one of Nigeria’s most important oil assets, containing 33 oil and gas fields of which eight are producing. It is currently operated by a Joint Venture of which the NNPC owns 55 per cent, Shell 30 per cent, Total 15 per cent, and Agip five per cent,.
For those who understand how these Joint Ventures work, irrespective of who is the operating partner, the sharing formula remains sacrosanct.
Why educated people will run with the story that President Muhammadu Buhari has revoked the licences of ALL oil mining companies and asked the NNPC to take over is an example of the inability to interrogate ideas or news that I mentioned earlier.
Why the takeover should be framed in the now recurring narrative of “the evil looters versus “we the poor masses” beats my imagination.
Just the idea alone that the NNPC will revoke all oil mining licences and take over their operations is part silly and dangerous on several levels.
Dangerous first because it will ensue a backlash of breach of contract litigation (I can bet that arbitration on most of those contracts are in the Courts of England).
Second is from a capacity standpoint as I doubt that the NNPC/NPDC has the capacity to manage all those oil assets. Just adding the operation of OML 11 is likely to stretch the NPDC’s resources.
Third, because it will lead to a total loss of investor confidence (akin to what tends to happen post an expropriation), particularly because (according to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu) the licences have just been renewed.
The Junior Minister had earlier informed the nation that we had to bring forward the oil licence renewals in a bid to fund the budget.
So, it is not just that we have renewed the licences already, but we have also fully spent the proceeds as well and given the paucity of revenue, are not in any position to refund.
I vividly recall musing over the implications when Kachikwu brought up the accelerated / bringing forward renewals that were not even due in 2019.
From a finance/accounting perspective, this is a liability, tantamount to spending advance/pre-payment. When that payment is finally due, you better ensure that you find another revenue source to cover the gap you created in 2019 and 2020.
But I guess the propaganda and fairy-tales are “sweeter”, and pander to “the looters versus us the poor masses” narrative.
Now the propagators are all excited and riled up like “bonobo” monkeys in heat.