2018 Review: Unlike the Barrel of a Gun

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I have been writing yearly reviews since 2009. This is the tenth version of expressing thoughts around the world, Nigeria and myself. From starting in First Bank in 2009, the glorious hope in Green Acts (my failed (or hibernating) start-up) in 2010 & 2011, resigning from First Bank in 2012, BudgIT in the steamrolling days in 2013, losing my father in 2014, getting married in 2015, welcoming Hannah in 2016 & the largely uneventful 2017, to closing the curtains of 2018, here are trips that flew by.

In 2018, I would accept that growth is happening. I am left with no choice. I am reaching the mid-thirties and a sprinkle of grey hair, tucked around my head is alarming. Life is happening. I also accept that life isn’t a straight line. You set all your plans in motion, but life happens and bends along the way.  The Yoruba idiom sums it well –  life is not that straight like the barrel of a gun.

In 2018, my family would welcome Ireoluwa, my second daughter. I have come to learn how to revel in God’s abiding grace, day by day. Once a while, another stuff pops up from the doctor’s lips but I am firm in the faith that this is my own gift, perfect from God. I was in Amtrak, waiting for the train to roll from New York to Maryland. I could not wait as my wife wailed that the baby was nigh. A second call to check up on her left my jaws open. She had delivered the baby.  That fast? It was a pump of excitement, I grinned all through the three-hour trip like a fool. Getting to Maryland popped it in full glare. Ireoluwa would spend 77 days in the hospital, with over 65 days in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. If anything took a toll on my spirit, it was springing in hope, on a daily basis.

In 2018, I felt the spring in my step. Twice, I listened to Barack Obama and I also had the famous hug with his wonderful wife. When I told my wife of the Obama Foundation Scholars opportunity, she encouraged me all the way. She wanted me to do it but I was reluctant. I was fellowship-weary with over a basket of 8 titles.  I remembered sitting in a pub in Joburg for the interview. However, God was plotting the line. Think of the plot of my wife having a baby in the US, the initial complications and myself being just 300 miles away not 6,000 miles (in Nigeria), it is God that writes those lines. I have come to cherish school again and also unlearning the “cram & pass” life; to learn that seeking knowledge is meant to open our minds, not regurgitate the lecturer.

I knew I would have to step aside from leading BudgIT and this is why Gabriel Okeowo (our new CEO) in the picture matters a lot. I have not been able to fully look away from BudgIT. I have played a minor role in defining standards and a ramp of courses in Oxford beamed my face on my missing points in leadership. BudgIT is poised for new things but before we take on that journey either in expanding our African footprint or taking new causes, we need to refix the culture. What started as an assembly of friends, brothers, cousins would not scale without the right culture. I am deeply committed to this and I am thankful for the support of my colleagues on this road. 

In all, I am happy that I was able to fix a part of my life – domestication. You know that stuff with a well-paid house help and driver in Nigeria can condemn you to just a man in the house with benefits. With the cost of living in the US and paying a nanny for $550 per fortnight, I had to assume some housekeeping duties. We are seeing the renaissance of strong women voices and how barriers of patriarchy, that sits in the living room cross-legged and waiting for a bowl of amala, is being shattered. I am trying to be part of that new flight.

I am equally grateful for family (especially a father-in-law that sailed through the year), friends, sound health, provision and also being able to donate a new coding centre to my secondary school, an initiative that has crystallised to The Proximity Project.

I am still filled with regrets. I never published that book, did not complete fundraising or BudgIT building and the new skills in playing piano or swimming failed to happen. 2019 beckons with few big dreams.

I will keep it simple – Faith (I need God more to keep the lines straight), BudgIT (I will need to reset the culture, raise new funding,  rebuild a new three-year sprint to 10-year anniversary), a new business (a side hustle is a need, BudgIT is proving inadequate for my needs) and book (I must not give the same excuse in 2019, be my reminder). I will leave the rest in hushed lines as worldly possessions deserve no vain mentions.

Looking forward to an amazing 2019. It is to keep focus, accept growth, and live in faith, wrapped in the rap lines of Rooftop MCs “things don’t happen to us, they happen for us”

Influence: God

Friend of the Year:  Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa (he’s my assistant but he hears it all, always willing to help, that’s friendship but a great mention to Niyi Agunloye & Steve Okeleji)

New Friend of the Year: Baba Agba (incredible friend and we would gist on everything – APC, PDP and life)

Book of  the Year: The Rise and Fall of Nations by Runcir Sharma

Facebook Friend of the Year: Ademola Adigun (His incredible opinion still tells why Facebook is still a gem)

Tweep of the Year: @NaijaFlyingDr (an entrepreneur, evolving economist & brilliant medical doctor, a father of daughters won’t accept less )

Person of the Year: Segun Awosanya (I won’t accept his political views but you can’t deny his voice on EndSARS. He is a reminder that we must see humans as a permissible spectrum, not perfect entities)

Happiest Moment of the Year: Ireoluwa Onigbinde’s birth

Saddest day of the Year:  Kehinde Shote’s passing (his death left me with a lot of questions and reaffirmed that we are just extensions of God’s mercy)

Song of the Year:  Telli Person ( I just loved the rhythm, it made me dance)

Unpaid Goon of the Cabal

The Cabal and its kindred in government houses will always be among us. Either they lurk with greasy palms around Apapa Jetty or they sit in decrepit office in Abuja Pensions Offices watching over their mansions.  Didn’t we see legislators overseeing and benefiting from SEC funds at a go? Or Saint Farouk denying his voice and turning $620,000 in a needle?

On January 1  2012, President Jonathan struck the matchbox tossing the flame into an gaseous enclave. Rage was the word. It’s been a while the ‘aluta spirit’ that defies restraint possessed me. I ran into the streets protesting this brazen fraud. Caught in the excitement, morphing into angst against an ineffectual government, ‘we the protesters’ were absent at the negotiating table. NLC and TUC showed no hope resided in their yard. Like a movie already seen, they brought the mid-way solutions. The President in series of speeches  postured like a thespian with cosmetic measures that cured no ailment of sleaze.

But the pall of sadness over the wanton corruption tipped with the massive floods that displaced thousands, Aluu4, Dana Crash, Mubi Killings, scores of bombing in Yobe and Borno crisis. While the rich and famous took delivery of private jets, we woke up to a nation struggling to keep its seam in a stitch. With the Governors’ fold now suffering crisis, the affliction lands in the camp of our leaders.

For London, it was the year to bask in her ancient glory. The Olympics was rendered in magnificence but Nigerian athletes except the now revered paralympians  came home empty. Andy Murray will look back with his Grand Slam & Olympic medals and beam smiles. Lance Armstrong will behold his fall in same year and probably give a deep sigh. Chelsea will relish a year the Champions League triumph ended an era of ageing squad. Man City saved by ‘Fergie Time’ won’t forget 2012 quickly. The Spanish in their economic woes played captivating football to keep the European football crown. The Facebook IPO, fall of Zynga and Groupon, failure of Apple maps and launch of new tech gizmos are highlights of the space. In Nigeria the e-commerce war has begun with Jumia and Konga leading the chase.  

Obama will also stride in smiles after securing another  four year term while the Republican base remain rattled with  shifting demographics . The squash game between the bankers and Western government still tosses Greece and Spain around. The world in a mild recovery was dragged down the pitfalls of a faulty European economic zone.  China shuffled its leadership pack and also keenly watched its frosty relationship with Japan.

2012 would actually take more than a page in my biography. In my personal space, the last time I had a defining year like 2012 was five years ago when I proudly organized the UNAAB ICT Conference. Not because I found another employer, I just cleared a  new pathway that tickles my spine.  Listing the awards and global itinerary might come with a brush of pride but I am most grateful to the forces of history propelling me.

I kept thinking that day I decided to finally quit my job in the bank.  I dropped my id card. I signed the exit forms.  I faced the Samuel Asabia building and took a bow.  It was a defining moment to marvel at how the height of my passion has transformed  to running into untested waters. BudgIT, my double helix of civic awesomeness, like a new guitar rocks my life. Sadly, I could not publish my collections of stories. I didn’t write as I would have loved.  I didn’t read as much as I did.

2012 has ended. My President has gotten N161bn for stabilize fuel in festive period. Yet I still queue to buy at N110 per litre. It’s been another bazaar of committees, Diezani is firm on the throne, the fraudsters chuckle in court and the charade is now dressed in SURE-P.  Cursed for its sleazy ways in January, the cabal now have a temporary reprieve almost blowing into a last laugh.  In this scorched sun queuing for December fuel, I try to remember differently. While I trekked miles to Ojota in January, I could have been the unpaid goon of the cabal protecting their interests and their friends in power .

 

 

 

 

 

Influence : God

Friend of the Year: Joseph Agunbiade

New Friend of the Year: Moshey 

Book of  the Year : The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Facebook Friend of the Year: Babawale  Oluwabiyi

Tweep of the Year: @oniyiabiri

Person of the Year: Obiageli Ezekwesili

Happiest Day of the Year: 19/05/2012 – Chelsea won the Champions League

Saddest day of the Year:  Ogunyemi Bankole Taiwo’s death 

Song of the Year:  Outside by Tuface Idibia

 

CBN: Between Reason & Emotion

The National Assembly currently has the Central Bank Amendment under its lens and the restless vigor they put to this bill only reminds one of its anti-gay equivalent. Under the current arrangement, the Central Bank Governor doubles Chairman of the Board of Directors. The Deputy Governors and some other independent directors make up the rest. The budget, operations and functions are handled by the CBN Board but the bravado of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi especially the recent donations to bomb victims, the legislative hatchet dangles on the apex bank. To ensure a firm  Board with checks and balances, the CBN Act mandates all the Board members to appear before it for screening but its seems in the public glare that Sanusi has overpowered the board making the rest, simple yes-men .  

 

With the past accusation by Sanusi of the profligacy of the legislators that gave him a ride on populism, the National Assembly was in a tangle with the apex bank over its budget. The CBN Governor showed up with aggregate mid-term figures that conversed nothing. Sanusi was expected to be dressed down when his budget is scrutinized but he brought the rules to the bear. Under the law that sets up CBN, he proposes and approves the budget. However the National Assembly  opines that its clause conflicts with the Appropriation Act and this amendment settles it all.  Quietly, CBN runs a mini-territory pitching to the world the need for its independence.

 

Now it all seems like a proxy war between the National Assembly and unfortunately Sanusi’s serial verbose stance might derail the institution whose independence is critical to developing long term solutions critical for economic growth. Beyond the budget shrouded in secrecy unlike its American counterpart published here, the new proposed CBN board could have Accountant General, retired Bank CEO, permanent secretaries and their representatives on Board. In short, we are peering at a civil service dominated board whose strings could be tapped by the misinformed politicians.

 

One will need to thoroughly stalk Ben Bernanke or Mervyn King, the central bankers of United States and Britain to listen to their well thought opinions. Unlike our Central Bank Governor having rendered opinions without control, Sanusi has brought scrutiny to himself and directed the revered institution he represents to the legislative matchet. Spurious donations followed bombings, unnecessary speech about Boko Haram and linking marginalization with derivation fund has desecrated the ‘papal’ nature of the office.  

 

To tame himself and his iterations from spending on impulse, the CBN’s budget needs to thoroughly go public. However while the legislators are exploring the need to tweak CBN governance structure (See here) and they should not trample on the statutory objective of the Central Bank which centers on price control. Putting civil servants who second-guess decisions for expedient political reasons might be dangerous for broader role of the Central Bank in the economy .While they might harbor anger at his needed outrage at them on their exploitative ovrheads, the legislators  should understand Sanusi is a journeyman kept in charge of the national purse for a fixed limit. In the future, I wish him well in fulfilling his lifelong dream as the Emir of Kano or take up a social crusader job which aptly sizes him. The legislators need to tame their emotional outburst that rides over reason and possibly could take a sober institution to the dunghill. 

Opening the Nigeria Budget To All

Just as evil is perpetrated in darkness, so does secrecy in governance encourage ignoble acts in leadership. The emblem of autocratic regimes and corrupt democracies is to keep the populace in obscurity. Individuals, organizations and governments whose activities are shrouded in secrecy give room for corruption to thrive and often times are against the light of transparency. Democracy, a widely accepted form of governance, rests on the key pillars of justice, rule of law, equity and transparency. Information asymmetry in public governance and thick opaque shield looming around public funds in Nigeria needs to be removed to strengthen the social contract.

The yearning for all Nigerians to understand the budget is highly known during the last Occupy Nigeria protests. A familiar slogan during the protests has been a fact that the State House has a meal bill of almost a billion Naira – an amount 95% of Nigerians might not gross in their life time. The amount on social media was quickly broken to N3m per day that quickly became a song on protesters lips. Citizens are quick to relate that Nigerian Universities get N450m as capital expenditure yet the Vice President who Nigerians seen as healthy has a medical supply budget of N300m. Digging deeper into the budget performance is to see that while recurrent expenditure over performed by 1.68% as at June 2011, capital expenditure riddled with several stages before expenses are made get 11.21% performance. It is of this narrative a staunch resolve of Nigerians emerged that government cannot be living on bloated expenses while the citizens feel anguish of fuel subsidy removal.

Every ministry in Nigeria has a meal allowance in millions, security votes and millions spent yearly on buying computers, buses, fuel, generator, office equipment and of most alarming is software acquisition that is over N3bn in 2012 budget. That Nigerians found out that the Vice President building costs N16bn according to 2011 Budget half year review seems alarming and that the same Vice President Office will use N45m to read newspapers in a year means 600 newspapers per day at the rate of N200. One wonders why can’t the National Assembly swap budgets with the Universal Basic Education Programme or why will Amnesty Programme budget  will be four times larger than Universities capital expenditure? Even at an N400bn budget for education (exclusive of ETF projects) which 79% is of personnel cost, have we done enough to erect learning structures? Nigerian government overhead cost does not reflect market realities and a quick review of 2009-2012 shows the budget looks a template where the gaps are simply filled by Ministry Leads. An example of a project like the Dredging of Lower River Niger (Warri-Baro) has been in the budget from 2009. When will it finally get done?

With many Nigerians currently having web access through desktops and mobiles, putting the Nigerian budget in a creative content across all platforms would enable Nigerians become key actors in participatory governance. The niched knowledge of the budget to that of common understanding will initiate a more transparent and open society.  This drive for open data must be driven down to states and local governments and I implore them to make their budgets to the finest details like the Federal Government’s budget to Nigerians. The budgets at subnational levels are currently too opaque and convey little or no details about the capital projects that benefit the citizen.

The maze of thick document riddled with complex financial terms has made the budget a mere news item with little understanding to most Nigerian citizens. It is time to open it up for all. Gradually, a budget participatory model whereby few months before budget presentation, town hall meetings, referendum, social media meet-ups are constituted is another next step. In such forums, citizens can inform government of their pressing issues, hence improving service delivery and efficient allocation of government resources. Nigeria like other countries at all levels needs to embrace open data where public expenditure from government officials and ministries is accessible. Government needs budget scrutiny by the citizens to adjust its expenses and free more funds for capital projects that impact on citizens. Citizens should be able to independently appraise the budgets by verifying every budget item performance. When no one has the privilege to withhold information about stage by stage flow of public funds, we would strengthen the social contract and deepen the trust between the electorate and the leaders. Once the budget data is made open, citizens can be the core agitators of its performance especially projects located within their vicinity and correct the anomaly that skews performance to the recurrent components of the budget.

Climate Change: Vigilance and Neglect

Solyndra, backed by $535 million in loan guarantees from US government to make solar panels in America, filed for bankruptcy protection two weeks ago and laid off 1,100 workers. Solyndra becomes the third US solar company in one month to tow the Chapter 11 line. After Obama’s visit 15 months ago, Solyndra was unable to cope with price pressures to low cost solar panels from China. In summary over $1bn venture capital fund for Solyndra goes down the drain putting an end to an establishment we thought will bring fossil fuel establishment to its knees.   I feel a bit down that budding enterprises that should usher the world into the green revolution are pulling the brakes and halting the march against fossil fuel.

The biggest insight I have to the climate change and sustainability is not to set off the alarms on the risks of impending storms, drought and catastrophes but to evangelize the profit opportunity on a whole new vista of opportunities that abound. That for the ages of Guttenberg Presses, automobiles by Ford Motor Company, the Wright brothers and the airplane, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, IBM, Bill Gates and Tim Berners Lee  who at a time redefined human civilization, the green revolution should be another page in human history. The current climate crisis fuelled by greenhouse emissions does not go beyond the ability of man to rethink and remodel the global system.

The climate movement might be wrong with the alarms and how scary we have presented the issues in fiction movies by injecting fear rather than propelling an opportunity for the carbon shift.  But this is understandable with floods, cyclones, drought that humanity is threatened with. I believe that we can agree that humans are tampering with the balance of nature and that we are stretching the natural resources beyond ecological limits. We should be on the same page that present growth at the expense of dwindling global resources is not sustainable and we need to stop treating this earthly space as a linear element. This environment is a reflection of Karma, whatever we do by action or inaction comes back to us.

To understand how the green revolution will take place, there will be losers like Solyndra. The greatest winners we have to contend with are the beneficiaries of global oil subsidies especially in developed economies. Big oil companies with a financial warchest are polluting the environment and they have indirectly hijacked government apparatus to further their own interests. When the globe is talking of greenhouse emissions, and its reduction, Canada is leading the exploration of tar sands which is 30 times deadlier than oil and Obama is reversing himself on Clean Air Act. The $13bn Keystone XL pipeline would cross 1,904 rivers, streams and reservoirs along its route and one can but wonder if there is clean energy future in still in momentum to pump the dirtiest of fossil fuel.

The biggest problem with fossil fuel is its huge global supply and how established our own production systems have been adapted to it. To factor the environmental pollution of oil into its cost has been treated carelessly and we itching the wound by giving oil subsidies to companies and individuals. How will clean energy companies grow in such environment that unjustly benefit fossil fuel companies? Kyoto Protocol expires next year with almost no successor in sight; climate struggle has been turned meaningless with political systems preferring to pursue growth in traditional ways. It is not time for the political systems to wean themselves from oil interests and stop this hide and seek game with the facts of climate change and shift to green economy. Global governments are turning the climate change to a PR exercise, oil companies are doing it on newspaper adverts and the climate denials are getting stronger with their convictions.  Only few European countries and China are making the clean energy their short term focus, we needs a moment of silence. We need to listen to immortal words of Martin Luther King:

“The “tide in the affairs of men” does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect”

Defend our Identity

When Taiwo Akinkunmi designed the Nigerian flag and drew three even columns painting the exteriors with green, its looked too normal. A simple artistic impression that explains our vibrant agriculture (the driver of the economy) and peace seemed quotidian. Flags are usually designed with multiple colours, single stars or a galaxy, shining sun, Islamic symbols, parallel lines or tribal objects and so on. It marks of stepping out of the norm to design this green-white-green flag and giving it a meaning relating to the strength of nation. He chose green over red, blue, yellow, black because the pages of the future were already being revealed in his imagination.

Professor Wole Soyinka in his book, You must Set forth at dawn, criticised this art of ingenuity. Our global icon of literature described it as the most uninspiring national flag on the surface of the earth. A misrepresentation of the sum of a nation’s imgination, our literally genius concluded. Many in their quietdom are riled at a flag looking like a winner`s piece of nursery school painting competition. I beg to disagree and believe that Mr Akinkunmi was colouring the theme of the future…a peaceful world living green. Green belongs to Nigeria. It is the mark of our identity and when the world is now adopting it, don’t we need to flash our identity?

Copenhagen Climate Change summit has ended and the developed world, the largest emitter of green house gases has promised to finance developing countries that are most vulnerable to effects of climate change. The globe is warming as an effect of human activities and use of fossil technology has increased gaseous emissions into the atmosphere. The effect of air pollution through the discharge of greenhouse gases (CO2 ,CO and nitride compounds) is making us gradually lose of our identity.

Nigeria is a country whose stastitics clearly reveal its vulnerability to climate change. The green trait in us is evident in our huge endowmwent in mangrove swamps of the delta, thick rainforest and lush grassland of the Savanna. Our fathers understood the importance ofgoing green and that has made agriculture their first art. The ancient occupation that still employs 70% of Nigerians is at risk because man through other dirty actions is endangering the environment.

As we got tired of the cocoa, groundnut,plam oil and rubber that oiled our independence engines, we dug restlessly to ground until we discovered dirty oil. We gradually smeared our identity with the dark liquid whose toxic fumes is impacting on our climate. We gradually threw green agriculture sprouting form our rich soils into irrelevance with the ostentious revenue of oil wealth. The impact of oil beyond damaging the environment is a critical factor that has widely stratified our society. We became poster child of militancy, cybercrime and kidnapping as our youths worried with filthy lucre exchanging hands at our leadership, they began engaging in notorious activities. We took us a new identity that billions of primetime adverts can’t easily fix.

Greenhouse gases usually form an aerial canopy for more than fifty years. The canopy allows solar radiation from the atmosphere to the ground.  As the sun’s rays are being re-radiated, the heat is trapped in the atmosphere because the greenhouse gases has already formed a ceiling.  The atmosphere gets warmer with rise in temperature and leads to global warming. As the greenhouse gases increase in the atmosphere, the earth’s climate has been altered allowing extreme climatic conditions. The global atmosphere has gone warmer and its ripple effects is invisible world in rising ocean tides, dissapearing Tuna and melting ice of the Antarctica. The resultant effect of global warming which is usually extreme climatic conditions is presently amongst us. Research shows temperature increases of 0.2 degree to 0.3 degree per decade have been observed in the various ecological zones of the country, particularly since 1960s.

I remembered I usually had to trek a distance see the tides of Bar beach in Lagos. The white garment tents who swerve in a trance makes those memory still vivid. Now, I peep across the Ahmadu Bello Way in a moving car to see the rising tides of the beach. Erosion is creating wide gullies in the Eastern region due to turbulent rainfall. We are seeing increase in windy rainfall in the rainforest regions as our vegeation in the Northern savanna keep stretching backwards annually. Flooding and erosion of our coastal lines especially the Niger Delta are also effects of global warming impacting on the average Nigerian. Heat temperatures in the north has increased with declining rainfall and this threatens our largest employer of labour -agriculture. Are we going to stand numb or we will mend pieces of our smeared identity?

Nigeria stands at a larger risk to the effects of climate change if the current awareness among us stays at this level. We battled for years for divide in the digital era and though we have miled some gap, we are still chronic consumers not producers. Green technology and climate change awareness , the next global turf still counts on little interest in Nigeria. We still don’t demand a forceful voice to end gas flaring, protect our forests, conserve energy, develop a robust renewable energy mix and enable reaserch mechanisms for green technology companies. As we cheer our national team colour in global stadia, can`t we scream to the rooftops on the issues of climate change in the globe?
Many African leaders may see climate change issues as another substitute for its much needed aid from developed countries. Since the developed world are the biggest polluters, they will still provide the financing against poor countries which Africa have a large represenation. May be the climate change money might be the next content of the ‘Ghana must go bags’ . The sleazy politicians who made our ecological fund opaque are doing the arithmetic already. I was scared of our this ‘green’ identity when our Nigerian President was not the roundtable that struck the Copenhagen Accord. Our governemnt still in hibernation and we still dont understand how energy-intensive our economy will grow, if we are fulfill our vision 2020. We will soon have a share of a global emissions if we keep a big picture of the future in mind. Don’t we want to belong to the low-carbon future and adopt green measures? Or we still believe this oil that has never pushed us to the corridor of top economies or solve our unemployment conundrum save the future? Will we watch our 800km coastline gradually become submerged and our farmlands go dry while we hang on to lowly side of emerging green divide?
Nigeria needs a stronger voice on climate change and sustainable energy policy and needs to be at roundtable for future accords. . It behoves on us to understand the hanging dynamics of future and truely defend our identity. We need world to see the obvious stastitics of our how their carbon emissions imperil us and letting them understand the social and economic effects to us. Nigeria needs to understand the times by truely leading Africa harping on our ‘demographic dividend’. We need more stringent rules on our deforestation and bush burning. We need better information exchange among communties on climate change and how their choices affect the earth.
Nigeria needs to structure a model to enable import of green technology and mass production of eco-friendly products. We need a large chunk of renewable energy to solve the nearly impossible chore of regular power supply. Oil is a finite commodity and if we really understand future generations deserve a bit, don’t lets make green energy as a threat to our oil revenue. The oil rich United Arab Emirate is building a world class zero-carobn city named Masdar using the best eco-solutions. We need to expand our horizon to create an energy mix that protects our environment. The greatness of nations are not grafted in the soil, they are revealed in the ingenuity of its people to lead change. Mr Akinwunmi didn’t paint our flag in black, he did it with prophetic mindset in green. So as we wave green-white-green flags in pride, lets defend our identity. As the flags are hoisted nationwide and we adopt green to mark our identity, thinking and acting green today is simply act of patriotism.

Oil’s Prophecy of Doom

In twelve scanty minutes, Barack Obama gave a dissenting voice antithetical to the previous lameduck President about issues of renewable energy, oil independence and climatic change. A speech laden with emotions of bravery and concern was rendered to the global audience in what can be adequately termed the crossroad of history. Oil, a national resource and God given commodity extracted from the swarms and dry fields has held America hostage by other oil producing territories. Countries with counter active interests with America have suddenly discovered oil and it’s becoming gradually a political weapon. Oil had turned to a weapon of internal oppression evidenced through extreme poverty in oil rich countries such as Nigeria and Venezuela or external aggression through nuclear armament and territorial aggression of Russia and Iran. The pollution effect of oil through the release of hydrocarbons and toxic gases has been linked to melting of polar ice, wild life extinction, deforestation and other debilitating effects. As the manufacturing industry, technology and global development intensifies in the last few years, oil prices have skyrocketed with high volatility.
After a plethora of global protocols, G8 commitments, energy summits and so on Barack Obama has emerged as the glint of hope to energize action for the salvation of earth. He has now joined the cause for fuel efficiency, automobile emission standards, low carbon economy and green investment as been touted as a pathway to create millions of jobs. Barack Obama has refused to spin in circles or drag its heels like his Nigerian counterparts but strongly determined to double the harnessing energy from the sun, wind, soil and biofuels in the next three years. He has just simply rubbished his erstwhile regime incoherent and skeptical view on global warming. This has been approved with a presidential seal within his 7 days in office and already in firm practice in California. America has declared a commitment to reduction of oil consumption and it will not be held hostage by dwindling resources, hostile regimes and warming planet.
America does not walk alone in the war against the obscene revenues of oil sheiks whose treasured asset has been dubbed as a threat to a safe, sustainable and prosperous future. Other regional blocs and developing economies of the world have joined in the campaign to massively invest in renewable energy. Brazil has led the initiative with a 30 % petrol input in fuel mix and even communist China with huge emissions has taken bold steps. China is leading investment in renewable energy through i in billions of dollars for in clean technologies and its solar market industry value is worth $15bn. China, the largest emitter in the world has set a trajectory to drive innovation for low carbon growth and reduce greenhouse emissions. The European Union has decided to cut CO2 from automobiles by 25% in 2012.UK homes are expected to be powered wholly by offshore wind energy in 2020 while other countries such as Germany, Japan and Korea have predefined targets.
Oil rich countries and international companies are not taking a backseat in the green future driven by low carbon and clean technologies. Proactive oil colonies such as United Arab Emirates who own 8% of the global oil reserves have decided to commit £11bn to renewable energy by driving 7% of its internal demand from renewables. Saudi Arabia the largest oil producer in the world are developing alternative energy sources as its national oil company Aramco is a proponent of alternative fuel using solar power. Giant oil companies such as Chevron, Exxon Mobil and BP have decided to assimilate the demands of the future and forgo gradually the excessive profit of fossil fuel and accept in concise terms its pernicious damage to the atmosphere. The World future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi was a right avenue to display modern green technologies and how to power a green energy globe that uses soil, water, wind, air pressure, carbon fitted technologies and so on. The global tone goes green and all stakeholders are seeking a strong commitment to ensure a safe future.
As other oil producing countries are seeking alternatives as the global energy demand is expected to double in 2030, the question that agitates a savvy mind is that what is the Nigerian response to the global green policy that threatens its major source of revenue? It’s of common knowledge that oil provides 90% of Nigerian revenue and current low oil prices are already creating a dysfunctional system that threatens her economic policies. Nigeria led by its weak leadership is taking a passive approach to the dwindling oil revenues and after years of waste, ceaseless squander and crude corruption, it seems a dead end for the sleaze balls. The Nigerian Central Bank has already predicted doom and budget deficit soars. The national currency has been devalued, major oil JV funding stalled, infrastructure investment delayed and a clarion call by government to cut its expenditure in ministries and other agencies. After enjoying a honeymoon of $147 in July 2008, lonely nights now looms as the price dangles below $50; a typical blow to the national revenue. Nigeria has hinged its hope on a volatile national resource when its fails to understand that the greatness of nations has been build on people and developing its human potential.
In the quandary Nigeria has found itself, its time to reevaluate our myopic view which has transcended Nigerian political leadership. The fragility and tragic risk of a nation that put its economic balance in a volatile resource such as oil have been exposed by the currency devaluation of the country. Nigerians economic fundamentals based on oil revenue and the huge returns have been stolen over the years by its inept and corrupt leaders. Nigerian leaders have benefited immensely from the lucre of oil revenue and it has not created a timeline, vision and adequate plan to foresee a low carbon future. Oil has suddenly become a tool of oppression for oil communities and economic whips for its citizens to wallow in penury. Self determination groups for environmental sustainability have been hijacked or turned to militant groups who are mostly unemployed youths. That new global economy is driven by technology and human capital is not beer parlour banter but we grope in the dark thinking the way to leap in to the top 20 economies is the sound management of the economy through bogus foreign reserves. The green initiatives across globe will definitely reduce oil dependency and even ensure use of fuel efficient cars whose manufacturers are housed in the leading green campaigners. We as a nation has failed to improve infrastructure, education, human capital development, technical skills, research institutes, technology centers and create sustainable alternative to the dwindling oil reserves. We need to diversify the economy through agriculture, solid minerals, tourism, real sector and allow a huge jump into technology savvy nations.
The obvious lesson Nigeria must learn in the long term is that improper investment in its people is a threat to the future of the unborn. Inadequate technological capacity, skilled and technical education and infrastructure especially power have gradually shaken our economic base and it now splatters in pieces. We have been doomed to be led by retroactive military regimes and now we revel in a government running on an empty tank. Hope seems forlorn and fear of the unknown perspires an informed mind as the economic recession bites hard due to falling oil revenues. Nigeria leaders have for so long refused to understand that developing the potential and human capacity coupled with sound and ethical fiscal management is the antidote to the numerous bugbears challenging its prosperity. The global consuming nations are singing a new song and its time to give up our old movements and dance to the new rhythms. We also must begin to start to plot agenda for better fiscal management, developing alternative energy sources and improve fuel combustion efficiency since our atmosphere is not immune to the pollutants.
It is obvious that the future of the nations and the chasm between will be marked by the country’s investment in its people and the use of science to actuate sophisticated post modern living. It is ample time to start as frame work as future leaders with a mindset to save this country from future economic exclusion. Eventhough, the current economic recession could hamper investment in green energy in the short term, Tony Blair stated at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi brave leaders need to make tough choices now for a safer world. The world is ready to go green, tables are turning, oil inelastic demand is shrinking, dark gold value rusts to metallic copper, Nigeria is time to start working….If not the dead corpse covered with bronze lid will soon sprout with its decaying legs in the air and the offensive smell will be deadly for the living and unborn. Running away from these present challenges is curing our protracted madness with hemlock.