This article was published here in 2012 . It has been republished here because some of the things predicted have now become excruciating realities in Nigeria.
One Newspaper headline had it like this yesterday ‘Anxiety as Nigeria’s crude oil export to U.S. slumps.’ This is not what those in charge of spending Nigeria’s oil wealth want to see but it is indeed a sign of the end for the oil wealth Nigeria made and could have used in developing other sectors of its economy. The numbers are very telling, from 810,000 barrels last July, the United States only imported 361,000 barrels of oil from us in July 2012. This was always coming. Read President Obama’s inaugural address of January 2009 and all his major national addresses ever since, including the last State of the Union address and you’d find a theme; America is looking at getting as much energy as possible from home and looking to depend less on foreign energy. The other side of the story is that America is doing very well on both fronts.
One of the topical issues in the current 2012 campaign has been about who can provide America with more options of alternative energy. President Obama even said in the last debate America was looking to create some 600,000 jobs from the exploration of its gas deposits alone. In creating these jobs, you ought to know that the jobs will be creating more oil for use at home – 100 years worth. In fact, Shale gas, renewables like wind, hydro and solar have become something of an obsession. The sad tale for Nigeria is, America is not the only country looking to depend less on foreign energy, China, Germany and indeed many more states without shale gas reserves are fast developing options in alternatives. Wind, biofuels, energy efficient cars, solar and hydro power are realities that will make the world’s reliance on fossils like crude oil wane drastically. It is good news for the world, it is a disaster for oil dependent mono-economies. A country cannot be more dependent on one source of income like Nigeria is on oil. Some 95 per cent of our foreign exchange earnings come from crude sales. The United States was importing almost 50 per cent of Nigeria’s total crude exports and those who understand basic economics know what happens to value and price when demand reduces and alternatives abound.
Vitol and Shell just got licences to export oil from the United States. This is a first and it is a sign of a nation not only desperate to provide its own energy from home but also smart to explore oil while it yet lasts. While Nigerian leaders hassle over the bench mark price to fix for petroleum in the 2013 budget, no one is discussing or bothered about where the funding for Nigeria’s budget will be coming from in 2023, 2033 and I better not even go even forward. Our obsession with immediate gratification is not only a problem with our “leaders” it has indeed become a national malaise. When the United States tells you it has increased oil production to the highest levels in the last 16 years, it is not saying it did it as a one-off, it is saying that is what it seeks to do more of in the coming years.
What Nigeria must do:
It has become essential for Nigeria to start developing a post-oil economy. If our oil does not finish – and it will indeed finish sooner than expected – alternatives will render it less useful. Either way, the future of Nigeria is not in any way oily. The 2015 campaigns must make alternative energy and the development of Nigeria’s economy away from oil major issues. As a people, the onus is on us to show government the way if it stays blind to the realities of today and tomorrow’s coming dangers. We don’t need prophets in whatever form to tell us our petroleum is soon done for when tomorrow comes. Nigeria needs alternatives fast, else, the times will be devastating. This is not a prophecy, it is a statement of knowledge.
Japheth J Omojuwa (c) 2012