As the price of crude oil crashes in the international market due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), groups in southern Nigeria, especially the Niger Delta, have called for immediate restructuring of the country.
The publicity secretary of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Ken Robinson, said the drastic drop in the price of crude oil was a clear test to whether the country’s leaders could do the right thing to save the citizens from the negative effect of the crash.
While acknowledging restructuring as fundamental, he said if the country’s leadership, in exploiting and wasting the resources from Niger Delta, had put the appropriate infrastructure to maximally utilise the several by-products of crude oil, the country would not be in a panic mode.
“The challenge facing the leadership of Nigeria is to look inwards and see how we can maximise the abundance of resources that God has blessed us with. It is not just crude oil; we have other mineral resources that God has blessed us with that we are not exploiting. Government is aware that people are just exploiting them in the northern part of the country, but not doing anything.
“We just focused on oil, which we are not even exploiting maximally and utilising for the good of Nigerians. With a population of over 200 million, we can take care of ourselves and won’t even feel the impact even if oil drops to a dollar,” said Robinson.
PANDEF stressed that there must be adjustment in the country’s structure to represent a true federation and that the federating units should have more resources and powers to do things for themselves.
Also, former president of Ijaw National Congress (INC), Charles Harry, described restructuring as a reality that Nigeria must face urgently.
He stated that the crash in the oil price should spur the political leadership to understand that there must be devolution of power, reordering of priority and a drastic cut in expenditure in terms of number of personnel.
“We have to look at things holistically and do what is best for this country. We have taught our people compliancy. We have taught the Federal Government compliance at other tiers, where nobody produces, just wait for the sharing of the oil money. But this is a wake-up call.
“I hope this wake-up call will touch the minds of the leadership now, whose selfishness has not allowed seeing beyond their noses to realise that without restructuring the country, so that each component part can cut its coat according to its cloth and therefore develop to an extent where it is viable, then we would not have started,” he said.