Wednesday, 25 November 2009

News Release: Knock Out For “De-regulation”: The Truth From Venezuela

                                             [Map Of Venezuela]

Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) received with excitement the sound admonition to the Federal Government of Nigeria not to hand over the economy of the country to foreigners by the Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Enrique Arrundell.

The rare advice from an unexpected quarter has vindicated genuine patriotic forces that have insisted that deregulation is not in the best interest of Nigeria and its people. Unfortunately the Government has been deaf to these calls and it has received the backings of the Senate and the House of Representatives on this obnoxious policy.

Ambassador Arrundell who was responding to the appeal by Nigeria’s Information Minister, Prof. Dora Akunyuli, to encourage businessmen from his country to come to Nigeria and establish refineries in order to reap the benefits of the proposed deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry, did point out what a responsible government should do.

“In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank of a car. What I pay for with N12,000 here (Nigeria), in Venuzuela, I will pay N400… our President decided one day to control the industry because it belongs to Venezuelans”.

This great friend of Nigeria recalled that Venezuela had once toed the path of foolishness Nigeria has been traveling for 51 years. “Before 1999, we had three to four companies working with us. That time, they were taking 80% and giving us 20%. Now we have 90% and give them 10%. But now, we have 22 countries working with us on that condition”.

Nigeria, the 6th largest producer of oil in the world has placed its oil explorations in the hands of foreign joint venture partners who take away 40% and leave the country with 60% of what they declare. We have been boxed into a resource “curse” as we export crude at a price buyers determine and import refined products at a price sellers determine. We have four refineries that have been run down with billions of Naira stolen under the guise of Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) but none functioning!

Where Venezuela has gone ahead to build 12 refineries in the United States and 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast, Nigeria wants to take crude for refinement in Senegal 51 years after oil exploration.

The outcomes of the two models have been very visible. The deliveries from a responsible and irresponsible leadership have been poles apart. Most of the 60% Nigeria takes from its joint venture goes into graft while 60% of Venezuela income goes to social programmes. While most Nigerians have no access to medical facilities, in Venezuela; it is the doctors who go to people’s houses to ask if they need medical services. While the office of statistics has lost track of illiteracy level in Nigeria, education is totally free in Venezuela with no illiterate people.

And of course the ringing indictment came for the incompetent political leadership in Nigeria by Mr. Arrundell “How come Nigeria that has more technical manpower than Venezuela, with 150 Million people and very intellectual people all around has not been able to get it right? The question is: If you are not handling your resources, how are you going to handle the country?”

It is simply because these guys can’t handle the country that has thrown Nigeria to the mess it is in today. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has in the last 10 years consolidated that irresponsibility by enthroning corruption, mismanagement, waste and mortgaging of our national interest.

Nigerians must give strong backing to labour to defeat the deregulation moves, which would only make life more unbearable for our people. What ever it is the present price regime must be sustained until the government is able to fix the refineries. The so called “subsidy” should be taken care of from the excess loot.

The various constituents must also begin to send strong signals to their elected or selected representatives in the National Assembly to know that, they must withdraw their support for deregulation if they want to return home and be welcomed.

By far more urgent is the need for our people to brace up for the challenge of regime change. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has shown that it cannot do better than the present ruination it is inflicting on the country. It cannot manage the economy in the interest of the citizens except to mismanage it for the greed of its chieftains. There is the immediate need for a political formation that can develop a blue print that will ensure that the “resources of the Nigerian people are for Nigerians” and galvanize the people for a change.

We thank Mr. Arrundell for his “undiplomatic” truths to Nigeria in distress. Like Ambassador Walter Carrington, a monument will come up in his name when Nigeria gets it right!

‘Yinka Odumakin
National Publicity Secretary,
Afenifere Reneal Group (ARG)

Editorial: Nigerian Press And Practice Of Journalism Council Bill

The Nigerian Press And Practice Of Journalism Council Bill before the Nigerian lower Parliament, the House Of Representatives, sponsored by a two term House member, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, member of Action Congress Party(AC), representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos State have been generating reactions, especially from news media practitioners.

These reactions are mostly negative, arising from suspicion that governments in Nigeria have one agenda in common, which is to stifle the news media, especially the privately owned ones.

What perhaps lent credence to this suspicion is the fact that  sucessive governments in Nigeria have at one time or another proscribed news media organizations, imprisoned and even killed some practitioners on flimsy accusations of "unethical practices". So when Dabiri-Erewa's bill surfaced, practitioners naturally cried persecution.

Aside from the several unworkable clauses in the said bill, we at chidi opara reports would like to point out a serious lacuna therein. The bill made no serious efforts to take into consideration, the matter of the new media.

Over the last few years, news information production have largely shifted to the Internet, thus an editor can live in United States Of America for instance, gets news reports from  reporters in Nigeria, edits same while attending conferences anywhere in the civilized world and with a press on a keyboard, publishes these news reports for the whole world to read. In the event of "unethical practices", how , if we may ask, would the council which would be domiciled in Nigeria, take actions against the editor/news media organization. We at chidi opara reports believe that the bill was dead on arrival because if it is eventually passed into law, most practitioners in the traditional media would move to the Internet.

Jounalism, we must say, has inherent checks. Aside from rejoinders, readers can now post comments on stories carried by news sites{blogs). News media organizations can be sued for damages, while reporters and editors can also be sued for libel and/or arraigned for sedition if need be. There is ofcourse the matter of self regulation, which is premised on the fact that if a news media organization looses credibility, it looses readership, which is the foundation of its existence.

The aforementioned checks in our opinion is better than the unworkable control which the bill seeks to put in the hands of the proposed council, whose chairman woud be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister Of Information.