T HE financial resources being used to prospect for oil in the Northern part of the country is just so huge, and the project should be suspended for now. While I am not saying that it is not the North’s right for oil to be discovered in commercial quantities in the region, the huge sum being expended on the project at this period in time is just so staggering, especially at a time when we are experiencing recession in the country.
Instead of prospecting for oil in the North, which we know is a game of luck, why is the Federal Government not developing the huge mineral resources, which can catapult the region from its backwardness to economic prosperity?
Even if the oil is found, will it benefit the ordinary citizens in the region? The answer to this question can only be arrived at if we look at the situation in the Niger Delta. We can, therefore, ask if the oil in the Niger Delta has benefited the people, and the answer to this is ‘no.’ Only the political leaders in the region have enjoyed what is supposed to be for the citizens.
Therefore, there is every possibility that the same thing will happen if the North discovers oil.
Now, I understand that the North is the most mineral resource blessed region in the country, with many resources located there.
In fact, it is being said by geologists that the country can survive only on the resources in Nasarawa State alone, not to talk of the whole Northern region. So why is the Federal Government not focusing on this, instead of the renewed push for the discovery of oil in the region?
What I hope the Federal Government will do now is for it to focus on developing the North’s agriculture and its mineral resources, which will definitely return the region on the part of economic growth.
This will also create sustainable jobs for the region’s youths who have moved to other regions, begging for alms, while some are engaged in security work and Okada riding business.
All these jobs are not sustainable, but a well developed agricultural programme, and a booming mineral sector will create jobs for the youth.
I also want the government to focus on reviving the ailing textile industry in the North, as this will help create more jobs for the youth.
Therefore, the government can divert the money being used in prospecting for oil in the region to all these projects, which, I know, will bring immediate benefits to the people.
I hope the Federal Government can order the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is handling the search for oil in the region, to suspend the exercise, while the budgeted funds for the project can be diverted to other purposes in the region.
- Zainab Hassan,