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OIL, TRUE UNITING FACTOR IN NIGERIA - DON

A University don has posited that oil resources constitute the major glue binding Nigeria. He inferred that there was a high possibility that the country would cease to exist if the oil dries up.

Professor William  Ewharieme spoke while delivering the I5th inaugural lecture of Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo last Thursday. The Professor of Political Science, in his lecture titled ‘ Managing a Forced Marriage: Armed Forces, Resources and Statehood”, stated that he came to this conclusion on account of his observation of what has become of Oloibiri, in Bayelsa state, where the first oil well was discovered in 1957. He said the place had long been abandoned since the oil well found in the area dried up.

‘At the site of the first oil well now dry’ stated Ewharieme while recounting his visit to Oloibiri in 2006 ‘we saw a commemorative pillar cum foundation stone for a non-existent Institute of Oil and Gas Research beside the number one oil well laid in March 2001 by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, President, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Back in Oloibiri town, there was a very big General Hospital completed in 1972 but could not be commissioned before the oil ran dry and has, therefore, turned into a forest. Oloibiri is no longer reckoned with for   revenue sharing as an oil-producing community’

He said the experience led him to develop the concept of oloibirinisation   which refers to a situation in which ‘ a decline in economic importance of a town, leads to its political oblivion, social obscurity, developmental neglect, and decay’. He said the situation made him conclude that oil has lived up to its billing as a lubricant, oiling the hurting joints at which many of the people have been ‘welded’ together by force.

‘ What happens to Nigeria if the oil runs dry, become irrelevant as a result of cheaper and cleaner alternatives or suddenly decides to relocate to the territories of the majority ethnic groups in Nigeria? Put differently, oil has been providing the fuel for love in the forced marriage that is the Nigerian state. What happens to the marriage if the fuel is exhausted?

This question, in his view, can better be answered with regards to what had befallen Oloibiri following the drying up of the oil well in that town. There is, therefore, a likelihood that the forced union called Nigeria could cease to exist if the oil dries up.

After the lecture, which had the Professor’s kinsmen from the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria, in attendance and other egg heads from the academic community, the Vice-Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University Oyo, Rt. Rev. Professor Dapo F. Asaju announced that the don had successfully inaugurated his chair as a Professor of Political Science in the University.

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