A time to rea­son, dif­fer­ently

Daily Trust - - LETTER TO THE EDITOR - By R. Ibrahim Jauro

Inas­much as I be­lieve in re­source con­trol, I be­lieve the ex­tent of the con­trol should not go be­yond the borders of one’s state into an­other; even to the sea. While try­ing to un­der­stand why the new phrase “eth­nic jin­go­ism” be­came pop­u­lar and why the threat of Nigeria’s se­ces­sion, I came to re­al­ize that most people ad­vo­cat­ing for such ac­tions are my­opic about their views, ig­no­rant or sim­ply mis­in­formed. Se­ces­sion­ists be­lieve in sud­den ac­qui­si­tion of mas­sive wealth in terms of oil acreage to their states on the eve of a di­vi­sion. Yes, this is true, but there is a limit. I tried to un­der­stand why China and Ja­pan were at each other’s necks about Di­ayou/ Senkaku is­lands and why Nigeria could claim oil blocks close to Sao Tome and Principe, de­spite it be­ing closer to Sao Tome than Nigeria and what I found en­light­ened me. The United Na­tions upon its cre­ation un­der­stood that ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters will eas­ily be­come a sub­ject of dis­putes within na­tions with lit­toral ac­cess and tried to solve the prob­lem from the on­set by UN Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Seas. In its so­lu­tion, coun­tries agreed that the dis­tance you can claim into the sea is to­tally de­pen­dent on the size (in length or breadth depend­ing on the lit­toral sta­tus) of that coun­try. So, Nigeria for in­stance, claims up to 200 nau­ti­cal miles into the Gulf of Guinea be­cause of its size, 72% of which is re­garded as north as a part of the con­ti­nen­tal shelf. To ex­plain this, if there was no north, there wouldn’t have been a Bonga deep sea well! The north how­ever, does not have ac­cess to the At­lantic Ocean and can­not claim any right to it ex­cept it is joined to the south. The south, with its ac­cess to the sea, like Sao Tome, can­not claim more than a few kilo­me­tres into the sea be­cause it has no con­ti­nen­tal shelf…. most of which has no sub­stan­tial oil. For coun­tries to en­joy the ben­e­fits of such ac­cess to the sea, they must work to­gether just like Nigeria and Sao Tome formed the Joint De­vel­op­ment Zone (JDZ) which al­lows both coun­tries the right to ex­plore and ex­ploit un­der cer­tain shar­ing for­mu­las. Our exclusive eco­nomic zones (EEZ) in the sea are in­ter­wo­ven. Maybe if Sao Tome were a big­ger coun­try, we would have been at log­ger­heads.

Some jin­go­ists and se­ces­sion­ists just for the ha­tred of the union called Nigeria will pre­fer that the coun­try sep­a­rates and ev­ery­one loses, but we must ask our­selves if this is best. We all know that Nigeria, as an en­tity, has only ben­e­fit­ted the rul­ing class, most of who are at the on­go­ing Na­tional Con­fer­ence to de­cide our fu­ture. The year mark­ing our 100 years of his­tory has turned out to be the most dread­ful, dis­count­ing the civil war. But de­spite this, we are bet­ter united than 100 frag­ments that may break­out should Nigeria cease to ex­ist. Let’s pon­der: would the Ijaw, Igbo, Ik­w­erre, It­sekiri, Urhobo, Ogoni, etc, agree to live to­gether in har­mony with­out ac­cu­sa­tions of marginal­iza­tion? Would the Hausa, Fu­lani, Tiv, Idoma, Bachama, Jukun, Nupe, Ka­nuri, and the other 400 tribes agree to live to­gether? The an­swer would be more of scep­ti­cism than af­fir­ma­tion. I per­son­ally be­lieve Nigeria will break into a min­i­mum of 10 coun­tries should that hap­pen…and an­other civil war, like that of South Sudan, could en­sure. Re­source con­trol will have two ef­fects on the coun­try; most states will have no choice but to de­velop their re­sources by do­ing the hard work nec­es­sary to build a coun­try and a few oth­ers will fold their legs and watch oth­ers work while en­joy­ing oil, gold or solid min­er­als in their back­yards for per­haps an­other 50 years. I think we are bet­ter off that way.

No state is too bare not to pro­duce re­source; it’s just that our lead­ers have been too lazy to do any work. If Is­rael, with its arid lands can ex­port agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, Saudi Ara­bia, the desert king­dom, can also ex­port food and per­fume oils; UAE can ex­port tourism, then what are we com­plain­ing about? Free ac­cess to oil? Some would ar­gue that the Arabs are lucky to have oil; I dis­agree. His­tory tells us that be­fore the dis­cov­ery of oil, the sup­pos­edly lazy Arabs trav­elled the deserts of the Mid­dle East to trade spices, per­fumes and other things from the Ori­ent to Europe on camel back!

If Nigeria dis­in­te­grates, what re­mains of it may not be able to sur­vive the catas­tro­phe that would fol­low. But if it does sur­vive, there will be a lot of farm­ing to do be­cause that will be the only worth­while source of liveli­hood.

Jauro wrote from Abuja<ru­fun­jauro@ya­hoo.com>

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