By Omeiza Ajayi
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has restated his call for the restructuring of the country, saying whether Nigeria likes it or not, restructuring has become inevitable.
He said as long as the Federal Government continues to lord it over states in all matters, there would continue to be agitation for restructuring. The ex-vice president spoke at the late Gen.Usman Katsina Memorial Conference, held at the Murtala Square, Kaduna. The theme of the conference was, ‘The Challenges of National Integration and Survival of Democracy in Nigeria’.
His words: “I suggest we resolve today to support calls for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation in order to strengthen its unity and stabilize its democracy. I believe that restructuring will eventually happen whether we like or support it or not. The question is whether it will happen around a conference table, in a direction influenced by us and whether we will be an equal partner in the process. Or will it happen in a more unpredictable arena and in a manner over which we have little influence? It should be at a table and we need to be at that table. A nation is an organism; it grows, it evolves, it changes, it adapts. And like other organisms if it does not adapt, it dies.
“Those who argue that restructuring of the polity won’t be necessary once we diversify the economy are mistaken. As long as the federal government remains overly dominant relative to the federating states, it will continue to matter which section of the country ‘captures’ federal power with its attendant instability. And as long as the federal government keeps the bulk of oil revenues for itself, its desire and will to provide the leadership needed to diversify the economy will continue to be limited”. On the clamour for resource control, Atiku described the call as belonging to the past.
The former number two citizen went on: “The fight in this country over ‘resource control’, while it may still have significance today, is really a fight that belongs to the past. Even a discovery of large quantities of oil and gas in the north today can only bring temporary relief but cannot reverse the fundamental shifts in the world’s energy trajectory. In any case how are we to improve this region and hold it (and the country) together in the time lag between such a discovery and actual production and revenue in-flow? I humbly submit that we need to move on, like the rest of the world.
“I am not trying to be a messenger of doom but to alert us to the serious challenges ahead if we do not take immediate corrective actions both in our economics and our politics. For this region particularly the following measures will be helpful for our economic, social and political recovery and development. Interestingly they are also what Nigeria needs”.
He said Nigeria has reached the peak of the oil economy, saying even for those who think nothing of diversifying to alternative revenue sources, the ‘jamboree’ is clearly over.
Atiku’s words: “Oil prices may still go up in real terms in the future, but the long-term trend will be downwards, and here are the reasons: New technologies of oil and gas extraction, especially hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) have helped in pumping out more oil than the world needs. In fact, those technologies have helped to push the US towards becoming the world’s top oil producer. Is it any wonder that US import of Nigerian oil has declined to almost zero?
“Growing investments in alternative energy sources as well as the declining costs per unit of these alternatives have not only added significantly to the world’s energy mix but also appear to have set the world on an irreversible move towards reliance on non-fossil and renewable energy.
“Let me give you just a few examples. In 2004 the world generated only 48 gigawatts of electricity from wind power, but by 2014 wind power accounted for 318 gigawatts. In 2004 only 2.6 gigawatts of power were generated worldwide from solar photovoltaic (PV), but by 2014, 139 gigawatts were being generated, and this excludes an additional 326 gigawatts thermal solar water heating capacity. Also total annual biofuel production rose from 30.9 billion litres in 2004 to 113.5 litres by 2014. The same phenomenal increase is noticed in annual investments in renewable energy, from a mere $39.5 billion US in 2004 to $214.4 billion by 2014.
In 2004 only 48 countries had policy targets regarding renewable energy but by 2014 the number had reached 144. As we speak here today cars using non-oil based energy either in full or in part are being produced for the mass market. And just last month the US, Canada and Mexico pledged to derived 50% of their energy from clean sources by 2025”, he added.