Olusegun Olatunde Oyegbami is the author of ‘Reversing the Rot in Nigeria.’ In this book, he analyzes the fraud behind the Petroleum Equalization Fund (PEF) and other national issues. BOLA BADMUS brings excerpts.
What is the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration is that things have become so bad that we must speak out and I have plumbed the depth of what has been happening in Nigeria for the past forty to forty-five years and have struck the nail on the head that the way we have being running the oil industry is what has led to collapse of the economy as we are witnessing today. When we are talking of recession, the recession didn’t start today, it has actually been in the pipeline because we have been doing the wrong things in running this economy as more or less a social service, which is not.
What do you think actually went wrong that led us to where we are today?
The over dependence on oil has actually led us into this situation we are in. Before discovery of oil agriculture happened to be the mainstay of Nigerian economy, and it was providing employment for the teeming population of Nigerians. But when oil was discovered, the way we have been running the oil industry made us to forget about agriculture, and we have also been running the oil industry in a fraudulent way such that everything that has being going on in the oil industry which is about 90% of the economy, has been full of manipulations and fraud. Such that as at now we are still maintaining that fraudulent situation and that is why this book is very timely.
We should note that what I have written in this book is to make a turn around to rationality and sanity. It is only when we do that, that we can improve on the economy.
For now, we are just deceiving ourselves. The corruption is still very much ongoing in the economy and it is not being addressed by this present government.
In the book, you hit hard on some men of God for shielding some politicians, can you please expatiate on this?
When the economy has been seriously bastardized and going downhill, and when means of livelihood of people have been destroyed, it is this kind of hopelessness that the so called men of God are exploiting to even render them more prostrate, and that’s why I said that the politicians have destroyed peoples livelihood. They have made them to become hopeless and now, in ‘going to God’ they have ended up being deceived further and their situation is being exploited and the society becomes even worse.
So, my own postulate in the book is that talking seriously, there are really no men of God anywhere, anybody who is talking of God is doing it for his own personal benefits that is why we now have the so called men of God competing with the politicians even in the material acquisition of wealth such that we now have men of God in Nigeria, riding aeroplanes and building estates and acquiring a lot of material properties, which is actually in contrast to what the bible and the Quran teach us that we should build our treasures in heaven and we should help one another to make life better for everybody.
In your book sir, you declared the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) as fraudulent, could you please educate Nigerians on this alleged scam?
The Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) was put in place either late 1975 or early 1976, and the intention might have been honest to let everybody have equal access to the petroleum products but equal access should not have been the mantra we should follow but equitable access. That is to say if you are in a particular place where you are close to petrol, then you can buy it slightly cheaper, but it should be available to everybody in that location at the same price. The whole idea in economics is that you operate on a comparative advantage and localization of your advantage.