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Government Without Opposition (1)

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Good Governance and effective leadership thrives in the
midst of effective opposition. Without effective opposition, governance is
prone to dictatorship. Governance and leadership in such situation become
ineffective and would lose legitimacy or authority to function effectively.

The late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his books, “Voice of
Wisdom and Path to Nigerian Greatness,” noted that the evils of foreign rule
may be far less than the evils which may be perpetrated under self-governance
by the affluent natives or the local moguls who, if left to their own devices,
may constitute themselves into class oligarchy and secure the supreme power for
themselves in the form of tyranny and arbitrary dictatorship.

He stated further that native tyranny and oppression will
become more pronounced when a cabal or group of feudal lords seize political
power and refuse to hand over to others outside his own hierarchy.

For Chief Awolowo,
the inability of a regime, civilian or military, to extricate itself from the
‘sweet uses and chuckles’ of power breeds tenacity of office. He defined this
as a ‘political monstrosity whose characteristics are inordinate and shameless
love of power for its own sake…’

Chief Awolowo must be turning in his grave now because of
the political situation in the country.

My concern is that absence of a virile opposition has
reduced governance to dictatorship. My aim therefore, is to suggest ways
through which political opposition in the country may be more effective.

To arrive at these suggestions however, I took into
consideration some fundamental principles of politics supported with examples
from the Nigerian situation.

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary,
politics is defined as “the activities involved in getting and using power in
public life, and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or a
society”.

Dr. Mabawonku, a
development policy analyst in his book, “Rethinking Political opposition for
Greater Effectiveness,” examines three fundamental principles of politics,
which in his opinion, explains some of the problems of effective political
opposition in the country.

First, he posits that power is the essence of politics just
as money is the essence of business. Secondly, he noted that while every
political position has attached to it some political powers, the effectiveness
of the power depend’s on the influence of the politician; and lastly he says,
political power and influence are never given, they are taken.

Mabawonku said although
these principles may not be generally acceptable, the continued success
of the patronage system of politics in the country may be explained partially
by these three principles.

I cannot argue less with this school of thought. Biblically,
without Satan mobilising cross section of angels to oppose the leadership of
God, there would never have been the need for God to exercise His authority to
create the earth and place man to take charge, lead over Satan and all that
oppose the rule of God. So, opposition is necessary for governance and
leadership to be effective.

For partisan politics
and opposition to be effective and beneficial to the electorates, government
should allow and create enabling environment for virile opposition. For  opposition to be effective, it must be virile
and responsive not necessarily to demonise Government activities, but to
present alternate policy direction to government. If opposition parties cannot
show in real term what they have done in the past to lead and identify with the
needs of electorates yearning for change, they cannot serve as better
alternative.

There is need to have a critical rethink of the political
system in Nigeria, particularly the system and style of opposition. Perhaps,
the most important fact to consider in this respect is that we now have a
democratic system of governance as against military dictatorship. Unlike during
military rule when there were very few institutionalised means of opposing the
government in power, there are a wide range of opportunities for constructive
political opposition in the new democratic system of government.

First, the opposing political groups have the opportunity to
contest any election through registered political parties. Secondly, there are
opportunities for the opposition groups to lobby for specific legislations and
policies either by lobbying the legislators or through systematic public
outreach activities. Lastly, there are opportunities for political opposition
groups to take legal actions against the ruling party or the government.
Therefore, for a more effective political opposition in the country, the
following may be taken into consideration.

As postulated by Dr Mabawonku, power is the essence of
politics just as money is the essence of business. Unless a politician has
power, he can not have much influence in public life. Many of the existing
political parties in the country do not seem to have any real interest in power
and as such they cannot provide effective opposition to the ruling political
party in the country.

It is reasonable to expect that if the Alliance for
Democracy had contested the presidential elections in April 2003, the outcome
of the elections would have produced a totally different result and the
political situation in the country would have been more competitive.

Again, considering the large financial resources and
experience of the present ruling class, it is very unlikely that the opposition
group can oppose the political entrepreneurs effectively in their own game.
Therefore, there is need for the opposition groups to shift the focus of
political debates away from sentiments to address concrete development issues
and problems as well as processes.

It is particularly quite unfortunate that only one or two of
fifty nine political parties in the country are making systematic efforts to
challenge some of the unpopular policies of the present government.

Dr Akpogena, a Christian devotional consultant, writes from
Port Harcourt.

 

Lewis Akpogena

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Oil & Energy

Nigeria Petitions OPEC+, Demands Quota Increase

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The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said he has petitioned the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners known as OPEC+ for an increased oil production quota for Nigeria.
Sylvia revealed this at the Gastech 2021 conference in Dubai, according to S&P Global Platts.
According to him, the country already wrote the group for an increment in its quota.
He said: “We’ve put request on the table, and we expect that to be looked at.
“We have capacity for more production than we are producing right now. Unfortunately, we are constrained by the quota.”
The Minister said the country’s full production capacity of about 2.2 million barrels per day should be reflected in a revised quota, saying that the country’s production struggles is due to technical problems from re-tapping reservoirs that had been shut to comply with the stringent OPEC+ cuts of the past 17 months, adding that production struggles would soon be fixed.
He said output could rebound to around 1.7 million barrels per day by November and two million barrels per day by the end of the year.
“We had some issues from shutting down the reservoirs,” he was quoted as saying by S&P Global Platts.
“When you shut down a reservoir, to restart it, sometimes there are challenges,” he added.

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Oil & Energy

Content Policy Saves $2bn In NLNG Train 7

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Nigeria was saved the sum of $2 billion dollars from the ongoing Train 7 of the Nigeria liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project as a result of using Nigerian firms, says the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Mr Simbi Wabote
Wabote, stated this last Friday, shortly after receiving the award of African Local Content Icon, from the African Leadership magazine, in Yenagoa.
The NCDMB Executive Secretary, who dismissed the assertion that the Nigerian content policy was costly, and a ploy by foreign interests who do not wish the country to develop, described the claim as blackmail, because experience had shown that the policy was more cost effective for oil firms.
“The Nigerian content policy saves costs, from the projects that the NCDMB have supervised it is clear that it is better for the International Operating Companies in Nigeria, but foreign interests at global levels erroneously say that local content is expensive.
“Before the move to increase the participation of Nigerians in the oil and gas sector, the participation was at about three per cent and previous administrations relied mostly on taxes and revenue and lost sight of the opportunities for Nigerians to get involved in the sector.
“From the oil sector where I am coming from, it is five times more expensive to pay an expatriate than a Nigerian, so how can they say that local content is more expensive ?
“ On the Train 7 project if you look at the cost provided by foreign companies, you have a wide gap of about $ 2 billion from the quotations of the lowest submitted by foreign firms and the highest from Nigerian companies, so local content is better as we ensured that quality was not compromised.
“From 2010 till now, we have come a long way, for instance NLNG had 90 per cent of the workforce as expatriates, but today 90 per cent of the workers are Nigerians with some even occupying top positions in foreign oil firms.
“I am thankful to President Muhamadu Buhari, who gave me the opportunity to practice local content in the public sector, by appointing me in 2016 and reappointing me in 2020,” Wabote said.
On the African Local Content Icon Award bestowed on him, Wabote said that it came to him as a ‘pleasant surprise’ adding that the ideals of the African Leadership Magazine justified his decision to accept the award.
Speaking earlier, the Managing Editor of the African Leadership Magazine, Mr Kingsley Okeke, noted that the process leading to the selection was transparent and independently conducted with nominations received from across the African continent.
“We found in the accomplishment and achievements of the Executive Secretary of the NCDM, a worthy character we must encourage and export to the rest of Africa.
“Our focus at the magazine is to spotlight the positive developments in the African continent and change the narrative and stereotypes by western media,” he said.
The Tide source reports that the African Local Content Icon Award was presented by Mrs Laura Hall, President-elect of the National Black Caucus in the U.S congress, at the headquarters of the NCDMB in Yenagoa.
Hall said that blacks in the United States, represented by the Black Caucus, also have a similar challenge with building local capacity to compete with their white counterparts in executing contracts in the U.S.
She said the caucus would collaborate and share ideas with the NCDMB on ways to increase the capacities of blacks in the U.S.

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Oil & Energy

HOMEF Frowns At PIA Non-Commitment To End Gas Flaring

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The Health of Mother Earth Foundation. HOMEF, has expressed displeasure that the Petroleum Industry Act is not definite about ending gas flaring regime in the country.
Executive Director, HOMEF, Rev Nnimmo Bassey, said the Act creates numerous provisions for operators to continue flaring gas unchecked, as it gives power to the Commission to grant operators a permit to flare gas.
Bassey lamented that such permits could easily be abused and turned into a license for unchecked and perpetual environmental and health damage to communities (as has been done previously).
“The Act also does not state the timeframe allowed for flaring in the case of facility start up or for strategic operational reasons
“While the PIA makes the flaring of gas illegal, it nonetheless creates a series of exemptions which ensures that the same gas flare regime continues literarily unchecked.
“The Act identifies instances where gas flaring may be permitted. These include (a) in the case of an emergency; (b) pursuant to an exemption granted by the Commission; or (c) as an acceptable safety practice under established regulations.
“It goes further to clarify that the Authority or Commission may grant a permit to a Licensee or Lessee to allow the flaring or venting of natural gas for a specific period –
(a) where it is required for facility start-up; or
(b) for strategic operational reasons, including testing.
“The section however does not provide an explanation of what ‘strategic operational reasons’ are beyond testing. It also does not state the timeframe allowed for flaring in the case of facility start up or for strategic operational reasons. These provisions could be easily abused and turned into a license for unchecked and perpetual environmental and health damage to communities (as has been done previously).”
HOMEF maintained that to end gas flaring, offenders should be made to pay the full economic cost of the flared gas based on the prevalent market price of gas, as well as the related health and environmental costs.
The environmental rights group also said that the Act does not appear to consider Nigeria’s climate change pledges as contained in the nation’s Nationally Determined Contributions.

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