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OPINION

Understanding NNPC Limited’s Governance Ecosystem

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By Pius Nnolum

Ex Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from June 2009 to February 2014, on Thursday, December 7, 2023 claimed that “The NNPC Limited is the ‘most opaque’ oil company in the world,” and advised “that the President becoming a petroleum minister is not a good idea,” in an apparent swipe at President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He made these positions known while delivering his remarks at the Bank Directors Summit organised by the Bank Directors Association of Nigeria in Abuja.

These comments have compelled this obligatory need to interrogate the governance ecosystem in the NNPC Ltd on the watch of Malam Mele Kyari so as to reach a clear understanding of how the national oil company is faring under his leadership.

President Tinubu, in an apparent tradition of his predecessor, ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, kept the position of the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources to himself. He clearly has the power to appoint his cabinet and self as minister and ex-Emir Sanusi would do well to note this.

Several critical considerations, of course, drove this presidential decision but first a background context. Cut to the bone, energy and its associated infrastructure remain the key development drivers of both ancient and modern civilisations. It’s actually strange that in the morning of the 21st Century, many Nigerian state actors are blissfully unaware that much of the problems of socio-economic transformation are really complications of physical infrastructure – with energy at the epicentre.

Undeniably, energy systems tend to be high-cost investments but are clearly vital to a nation’s economic development and prosperity. Put simply to thrive in the choppy waters of rapid technology and business model changes, organizations that manage a nation’s energy sector require the right leadership. It is imperativeness for any leader to have a clear vision and articulate it well.

Today, National Oil Companies (NOCs) in Africa stand on the brink of significant disruption – and of substantial opportunity – as a new era of structurally lower oil prices challenges business models that have long relied largely on exploration and production of hydrocarbons. This scenario goes beyond the volatilities in the sector, seeded by the Middle East crisis and the Russia-Ukraine war.

The onerous responsibility to drive this behemoth energy corporation fell on the sturdy shoulders of Mele Kyari who was appointed the GMD of the now-defunct Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, on July 8, 2019. Clearly, Kyari, an unassuming scientist who has traversed the entire value chain of the petroleum industry, has turned out to be the right pick as NNPC boss.

Perhaps his toughest call in an industry he has spent much of his professional life in, Kyari has responded to his top-draw responsibility by quickly taking charge in close synergy with his corporation’s oversight entity, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. His four-year leadership has demonstrated a fundamental grasp of what fossil energy means and an adroit understanding of the imperativeness of circumspect governance of Africa’s preeminent NOC.

Kyari set sail by defining a clear vision of NNPC’s transformation and sending a clear message that the corporation’s lukewarm governance narratives of the past were gone for good. Recognising the imperativeness of inclusive governance, he considerably up-scaled engagements with various stakeholders to ensure that they were carried along in the Company’s operations.

Besides its role as the bedrock of the Nigerian economy, the petroleum sector has been one of the defining features of the country’s post-independence history. This fact centralizes NNPC in the nation’s political economy, given the oil corporation’s assigned role in the industry.

Not surprisingly, the corporation’s experience has been marked by struggles over what the corporation controls and over who controls it. Perhaps this unique centrality of the corporation in the Nigerian state has spawned its fair share of challenges and reproach.

It could be recalled that a 2010 joint report by Transparency International and Revenue Watch Institute found that NNPC had the poorest transparency record out of 44 national and international energy companies examined. It is heartening that within his four years in the saddle, the NNPC boss has changed that negative narrative.

With Kyari’s new vision, the NNPC is boldly anchored on the principle of Transparency, Accountability, Performance and Excellence (TAPE). Perhaps, one of Kyari’s most important and earliest governance initiatives that sounded a death knell to the extreme operational opacity reputation of the corporation is “Operation White.”

It is a presidential-mandated collaborative initiative driven by NNPC with the active participation of regulatory and security agencies as well as other stakeholders in ensuring that all molecules of regulated petroleum products imported by NNPC are well accounted for and utilised in the country. This initiative effectively ended the era of very poor transparency in the corporation’s governance style. I am not sure ex-Emir Sanusi is aware of this initiative.

Barely five months after publishing its 2018 Audited Financial Statement, the Kyari-led NNPC released its 2019 Audited Financial Statement with a 99.7% reduction in its loss profile from ₦803bn in 2018 to ₦1.7bn in 2019. On account of these unprecedented governance positives, the conservative Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) lauded the corporation.

Even the ravages and disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic did not derail the compelling focus, integrity of service delivery, operational stability and reasoned interventions by the NNPC boss.

Looking at the big picture, the NNPC Ltd’s management, under the firm guidance of Mele Kyari, has patriotically and assiduously worked towards building a stable oil industry for the nation’s growth and development. He has done a good job in posting resounding successes since stepping in the saddle.

Kyari had scaled a number of hurdles, including the mindless theft of Nigeria’s oil by criminal cabals and individuals, which had left Nigeria for a long time unable to meet its oil production quota. The NNPC Limited management, under Kyari’s astute leadership, launched the “Crude Theft Monitoring Application”.

The portal has application options for reporting incidences of crude theft, with prompt follow-up and responses, and another one for crude sales document validation. In a subsequent operation that followed, Kyari announced the discovery of a four-kilometer illegal oil connection line from Forcados Terminal into the sea which had been in operation for nine years.

Certainly, efforts at checkmating crude oil theft and illegal refineries have been yielding positive results as there has been a significant spike of daily oil production to 1.6 million barrels per day. In addition, according to Fourth Quarter 2022 figures released, Nigeria has regained its position as the largest crude oil producer in Africa, ahead of Algeria’s 1.021mb/d and Angola’s 1.088mb/d in November 2022.

The management of NNPC Limited under Kyari addressed persistent oil loss that the old NNPC had suffered before he became its helmsman in 2019. In 2022, the company posted its second consecutive year of ‘profit’ announcing N674.1 billion in the 2021 financial period and growing it from N287 billion in 2020.

The figure represented an increase of N387 billion or 134.8% when compared to the previous N287 billion recorded in 2020. Kyari, who made the disclosure via the verified Twitter handle of the company, said the improvement followed the approval of the 2021 audited financial statements by the board of the oil company.

Aside from recording profit for the company, Kyari has also led the NNPC Limited to resolve age-old disputes with its business partners notably the International Oil Companies (IOCs). This is part of its efforts at boosting Nigeria’s crude production and unlocking investments in the Deepwater space in the aftermath of the coming into being of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA).

Consequently, the NNPC and the IOCs signed various production sharing contracts (PSCs) agreements that would ensure the production of about 10 billion barrels of crude oil and generate over $500bn revenue.

A notable accomplishment of Kyari’s leadership of NNPC Limited is the payment of Nigeria’s joint venture cash call arrears to the IOCs totaling $5.1 billion. This was made possible through the introduction of the Alternative Funding Approach (AFA), which replaced the erstwhile cash-call payment model.

Besides, NNPC signed various Memoranda of Association (MoU) with many countries, including the national oil companies of Ghana, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Sierra Leone in furtherance of the planned Nigeria-Morocco Gas pipeline project. The Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline (NMGP), an initiative of the federal government of Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco, is a 5,600 kilometers gas pipeline project traversing 13 African countries namely: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania to Morocco.

But, by far, one of the most impressive accomplishments of Kyari’s stewardship at NNPC Limited is the flagging off in November 2022 of the Kolmani Integrated Development Project in Bauchi State, marking the commencement of effort to commercially exploit oil in the Northern part of Nigeria.

The Kolmani Oil Field, estimated to have a reserve of about one billion barrels of crude oil, OPL 809 and 810, lies in the Gongola Basin of the Upper Benue Trough, straddling Bauchi and Gombe States. The oil blocks are owned by the NNPC Limited as a concessionaire with New Nigeria Development Company Ltd, Africa Oilfield Movers Ltd, and SEEPCO as partners. The well is expected to produce 50,000 barrels of crude per day during the first phase.

Going forward and putting negative characterisation of NNPC Limited behind, the Kyari leadership as it is has simply chosen the solemn path of sharply focusing on the subsisting challenges in the sector. The leadership stated it was focused at the moment on delivering the task that had been set for the national oil company, stressing that everyone was free to air their opinion. NNPC’s Chief Corporate Communications Officer, Olufemi Soneye, told the media that there would be no need for an official response to the claims made by the ex-CBN boss.

He explained that constant responses could hinder the enormous task before the oil company, adding that NNPC would rather concentrate on handling the work that it was established to do.

According to Soneye, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Constant responses to every individual can hinder our work. Our focus remains on delivering energy security, managing ongoing projects, and implementing reforms.”

But before the Senate recently, the NNPCL GCEO had already made in-sector clarifications that addressed Sanusi’s remittance concerns. He had buttressed that maintaining the energy security target has fostered the confidence that in 2024, Nigeria will become a net exporter of petroleum products.

He affirmed that no subsidy was charged to the federation, adding that the NNPC had contributed N4.45 trillion as direct revenue into the federation account in a combination of taxes, royalties and dividends and paid N406 billion as dividend to Federal Government’s account from July 2023.

The narratives about the success stories of NNPC under Kyari’s leadership promise to be inexhaustive as he continues to come up with one innovation after another.

Dr. Nnolum wrote in from Lagos

OPINION

NIN-SIM Linkage and the Nigeria We Desire

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By Tunde Akanni

Rights and responsibilities are the twin words that best describe the inception and the increasing impact of digital technology, a major strand of which is the dynamic contemporary telecommunication services.  Even before the imminent(?) internet of things (IOT),  a lot is playing out  for human civilisational process throwing up existential challenges for citizens and duly requiring governmental interventions to cope with.

If only to safeguard innocent citizens from the antics of criminals, government is often quick at fashioning laws and penalties for violations.

The most far reaching legal intervention in this context is the Cybercrimes Prohibitions Act of 2015 with its most significant component being the Cybercrime Advisory Council.
  Incidentally, this Council is considered rather exclusionary by media and allied rights advocates.

The said deficit of the Cybercrime Advisory Council is a pointer to the fact that in climes such as ours, not much attention is often given by government to social needs, specifically in this case, Media and Information Literacy, MIL, already over hyped by the informed stakeholders. Unfortunately, some undiscerning members of the society keep falling falling victim of related laws.

Please follow this pathetic story, the audio of which I keep till date: Muhammad is a private school principal at Nyanya, an Abuja, suburb. As a side hustle, he runs a Point of Service (POS) business for payment.  Then came a criminal one day who had just robbed and killed his victim. Using his victim’s card, he requested two transfers of N500,000 each.

The criminal made several other purchases and also went to some other operators of POS.  Eventually he was found out and law enforcers had to track all transactions he had carried out with the victim’s card. Muhammad of Nyanya thus became a suspect and was promptly arrested. Thus began endless investigations… Muhammed ended up being detained for months in a prison.

You can imagine the psychological torture not only for Muhammad but his immediate family, employers and others who love him. He learnt his lesson in the bitterest way yet his ordeals could have been averted by sufficient exposure to basics of MIL. But life goes on. Indeed, it must be business as usual

Otherwise how do we explain the cacophony playing out after the expiration of the deadline of 29 March for NIN-SIM linkage? The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that it would not be reviewing its deadline to bar owners of more than four SIM cards whose SIM registration data failed to match their National Identity Number (NIN) data.

The Commission explained that its position was hinged on its objective to clean the country’s SIM ownership database, and ensure that criminals could not take advantage of having multiple unlinked SIMs to carry out their nefarious activities.  The Commission’s resolve is hinged on the need to close in on the chaos of untoward ownership of multiple SIM cards with unverified NIN details. According to the  Commission “we have instances where a single individual has over 10,000 lines linked to his NIN. In some cases, we have seen a single person with 1,000 lines, some 3,000 plus lines. What are they doing with these lines?

The NCC has also provided Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) an extension till 31 July within which they are expected to verify all NINs submitted by subscribers with four or less SIMs, as well as bar those whose NIN fail verification with NIMC.

The Chairman of Association of  Licensed Telecommunication Operators, Gbenga Adebayo, further confirmed that members of his association would comply.

However, just the next day or so after the deadline expired, yours sincerely sighted no fewer than three reports announcing the extension of the deadline, one of them stating specifically to 31 July, referring to some reliable inside source.

What’s all the fuss about really? This NIN-SIM linkage is a simple exercise that only requires a subscriber to submit his or her NIN to the service provider to enable the service provider match details of the subscriber taken at the time of initial SIM registration process. This could be done through assorted windows including physically by visiting designated points. For techno-literate persons, they are merely expected to use short, universal codes for both submission and retrieval for those who may want to verify their own compliance as the media kept repeating deadlines.

The reality today is that barely literate persons and even illiterates now use telephones given its increasing centrality to a lot of human activities.  This is the basis of this writer’s advocacy for an earlier generalist nomenclatural label suggestion of “Digital Culture” in place of “Digital Economy” preferred by Minister Ali Pantami when he chose to rename the ministry he was asked to superintend over (https://www.thecable.ng/digital-culture-or-digital-economy)

Telecommunication industry players have been unequivocal about the key benefit of NIN-SIM linkage being the protection of subscribers and prevention of crimes such as exemplified above. For instance, on account of the huge amount involved, the POS operators may have documented details of whatever identity provided by the criminal. As a matter of fact, the truth may have been readily revealed in the course of such documentation. But the information literacy knowledge could only have been deployed based on certain pre-existing conditions such as NIN-SIM linkage offers an example.

Still on crime, another major advantage that may derive from the NIN-SIM linkage is the  ease with which law enforcers may trace and tackle criminals through their registered lines. Afterall, no one may be allowed to own any line except you are ready to play by the set rules.

Furthermore, this linkage thing will automatically ease economic  transactions  electronically since identities will be easily verifiable for concerned parties such as it pans out with regards to debit cards and similar devices.  NIN-SIM linkage is therefore the way to go and the exercise has to run with a good measure of discipline especially with existing spectacular anomalies of thousands SIMs connected to some individual.

At this stage, the campaigns executed so far need be audited to make for genuine inclusivity with regards to social, geographical and other possible lines. For instance, this task now requires a well designed stakeholder mapping. The mapping must ultimately reveal spots of irregularities and areas as well as interests deserving more attention.

Given that all media genres had been previously deployed perhaps for conventional announcements, how about aligning subsequent dissemination more enriched via regular media contents? How about being more scientific, relativizing media use depending on audience preference and possible perception? In reality this could translate to devolving dissemination more to the grassroots by enlisting the emerging broadcasters namely, community broadcasters and campus broadcasters.

Beyond liberalising the media to be used, campaigns must also be made to align with credible programmes with obvious trendy touch of management such as may ensure their global reach and enduring availability as may be made possible by platforms like Youtube and Spotify.

With affiliation to champions of multi-stakeholder philosophy like the UN’s annual Internet Governance Forum, IGF, for the management of telecommunication facilities, need NCC be reminded of the importance of democratised governance culture?

It is most certain that the involvement of the relatively cheaper (not necessarily technologically inferior) community and campus broadcasters will help to boost the NIN-SIM linkage campaigns and indeed others that may arise in future.

It will as not be out of place  for NCC to support the campaigns for the popularization of Media and Information Literacy. This certainly will help to resolve a lot of digital divide inspired issues

With the concern demonstrated on this exercise so far, NCC has demonstrated that it now has an improved corporate governance culture as advocated by IGF (https://punchng.com/nigerias-communication-governance-indifference/ ). It can however do better and even excel.

Akanni is an associate professor of media and development  at the Lagos State University. Follow him on X via @AkintundeAkanni

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OPINION

The Lessons of Okuama Tragedy

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By Michael Owhoko

Has Nigeria learnt any lessons from the Okuama massacre? Will the incident repeat itself or offer profound lessons against a future experience? In the journey of life, no individual or nation or country is immune from occurrences thrown up by circumstance, which may be pleasant or painful.

Lessons from such experiences are deployed to prevent possible future reoccurrence, failing which the same catastrophe would repeat itself.

In context, the gruesome murder of army officers at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, which transcends ethnic emotions and was accompanied by wide condemnations, is a confirmation that Nigeria has not, and does not learn from lessons, otherwise the calamity would have been avoided.

The incident was not the first of its type. It had happened previously at Odi, Bayelsa State; Zaki Biam, Benue State; and Gbaramatu, Delta State, yet it appeared that neither the Federal Government nor the Nigerian Army learnt any lessons from the earlier occurrences. This is evident from the Okuama saga, a proof of the country’s insensitivity to bloodshed and exposition of poverty in the policy making process.

This notwithstanding, the Okuama calamity has again thrown up another opportunity for lessons to be learnt. If Nigeria fails again, this time around, to learn from these happenings, then the country risks further carnage, which may possibly take a more complex form, with unmanageable and unpredictable consequences. It may be too costly for the country’s fledgling socio-economic balance and stability.

Therefore, the lessons are crucial and should be identified by government, to be harnessed as feedback for proactive purposes, to forestall future recurrence. It is a tragedy for any country with a relapsing experience, not to have a codified strategy encapsulated in a template to resolve related matters. In specific terms, what then are the lessons and takeaways from the Okuama disaster?

Lesson One: To have allowed a land dispute over fishing rights between Okuama and neighbouring Okoloba communities in Bomadi Local Government Area, Delta State, to escalate means there were no proactive measures and prompt concerted interventions by the Nigeria Police Force and Delta State Government, in response to petitions written by the Okuama community.

The community, through its lawyers, I. Ejedegba and Co., had written a petition to the Commissioner of Police in Asaba, Delta State, which was acknowledged on 31 January, while that written by the community’s leaders to the Delta State Governor was received on 2 February. This was over one month before the gruesome murder of the military officers on 14 March.

Since the Police is the first line of contact and statutorily responsible for civil security matters, they should have waded in upon receipt of the petition, to nip the crisis in the bud, aside the previous joint meetings held among the communities, the Police and the Delta State Government that yielded no solution. Under this development, the Delta State Governor should have been advised to wield the big stick by acquiring the land in contention for public interest, to end the crisis.

Lesson Two: Inviting the Army for a mediatory and peace mission to Okuama for the resolution of a land dispute between two communities that were not at war, was an error in judgement. The dispute was civil in nature, and it was only when the efforts by the Police and the Delta State Governor had failed, and there was evidence of likely escalation into a dangerous dimension beyond the capacity of the Police, that would have warranted the intervention of the Nigerian Army. It is not the responsibility of the Army to broker peace in a civil matter.

Lesson Three: Central to the killing of the military personnel in Okuama is presumably oil. Oil appeared to be the underpinning motive behind the horrendous and senseless killings. Mere land dispute between two communities could not have led to such a mindless massacre. Soldiers are deployed to the Niger Delta region to protect oil facilities, and in the course of this duty, they might have been marked as “enemy” by those profiteering from illegal oil deals.

Those involved in crude oil theft and other illegal activities, including the processing of locally refined products, might see the Army as an obstacle to their business interests. The military high command should have known this, and prepared the soldiers for any possible eventuality and collision with entrenched oil thieves.

The circumstances of their deaths showed that the military men were taken unawares. It was likely that crude oil thieves and other vested interests might have planned and taken advantage of the soldiers’ peaceful disposition to unleash mayhem on them in such a horrific and despicable manner.

Lesson Four: The mass destruction of Okuama by the Army in response to the death of the soldiers, without singling out the culprits, was unhelpful, as innocent children, mothers, the elderly, the sick and even pregnant women, were either killed, rendered homeless or died while trying to escape.

To bring pain on an entire community over the action of a few criminals, is indefensible. Reprisal attacks and collective punishments are incompatible with international law.

It should be recalled that after the destruction of Odi by the Army, the community resorted to litigation and got a favourable judgement, leading to the payment of a N15 billion out-of-court settlement as compensation. Justice Lambi Akanbi of the Federal High Court had condemned the government for a “brazen violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims to movement, life and to own property and live peacefully in their ancestral home.”

Since the Okuama experience is reminiscent of the destruction in Odi, it is likely Okuama may seek redress in the law court for compensation over the reprisal destruction of lives and properties.

Lesson Five: As the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu’s order to the Army was too hasty and reactionary, without taking into consideration innocent lives in Okuama that were caught up in the web. Granting “full authority” to the military to bring anybody found to have been responsible for the attack to justice was an obvious blanket licence for the military to invade Okuama.

Instead, the President should have ordered the security agencies and the Police to specifically intervene, identify and arrest the criminal elements in the community, while instituting an independent high-powered panel of enquiry to unravel the causes of the mayhem. A future restraint on the part of the President is imperative to douse tension and minimise further collateral damage.

Lesson Six: The Army’s decision to lock down and lay siege to Okuama without granting access to the Delta State Governor, the Police, humanitarian agencies, and even the press to assess the situation on ground, has given rise to speculations about the plight of the members of the community, particularly the innocent, helpless and indigent persons. This is unhelpful to the image of the Army.

By not allowing access, the Army has unwittingly opened its operations to speculations. For example, it was alleged that the Army killed over 5O persons in Okuama, with other survivors hiding in the bush, including old women, children, the elderly ones and even the sick, with no food to eat or water to drink. This is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights.

To avoid being put on the spotlight, it is imperative for the military to grant access into the community to enable humanitarian agencies and volunteer groups extend help and assistance to the innocent ones, to prevent further fatalities. This will also serve the interest of the Army’s reputation.

Lesson Seven: After the destruction of Odi, initial public sympathy for the military waned. The same is replicating itself in Okuama over the conduct of the Army. The Army, like other Federal Government agencies, is not a supreme institution that is above the Constitution and the Nigerian State, neither is civilian population subject to military laws.

Indeed, the Army is subject to civil authority under a democracy. Therefore, it must change its current tactics at Okuama, where it has refused access to the community, assumed being the sole information provider on goings-on, and subjected civilians to investigation, arrest and detention.

It is hoped that these lessons will serve as reference and guide for the state governments, the Police, the Army and the federal government in the handling of related crises to avert future disasters.

Owhoko, a Lagos-based public policy analyst, author, and journalist, can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com, and followed on X (formerly Twitter) @michaelowhoko.

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OPINION

Politics as the Fourth Factor of Production

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By Majeed Dahiru

The advent of the industrial revolution in the 18th century in the United Kingdom, continental Europe and the United States of America, established land, labour and capital as the primary factors of production. While land included natural, mineral and water resources above and beneath it, capital essentially referred to money, the legal tenders or any other means of exchange, and labour was the work force deployed to till, mine and cultivate the land, as well as oversee the proper utilisation of capital.

But of the three primary factors of economic production, labour is the most important.

Although interdependent of each other, and with none dispensable, labour is needed to convert the enormous potentials of land to satisfy wants, just as it is the fruits of labour that is converted into capital, to keep the wheel of production grinding.

Labour is the most important factor of economic production because while capital and land are inanimate, labour is animate in its primary form as a human activity that utilises the other two factors to satisfy human wants and needs accordingly.

While the industrial revolution transformed the course of human economic activities for better, the invention of machines and its substitution of manual labour tended to undermine the importance of labour in the early stages of the industrial age. Armed with enormous capital and equipped with machines, the emergent class of industrial capitalists, like slave masters before them, exploited labour to the maximum, without commensurate benefit.

It was out of the chaos of the early stages of the industrial revolution, which was characterised by poor wages, exploitation, poor working conditions and everything that could be categorised as unfair and unethical labour practices, that the organised labour movement emerged.

As a means of collective bargaining, workers, traders and artisans organised themselves into unions to replace the pre-industrial era guilds, to engage with both public and private employers for better working conditions. Beginning in 18th century Britain, strike actions were embarked upon by workers to press home their demands for fairer labour practices and improved working condition by the organised labour movement.

Industrial disagreements between capitalists and their workers soon triggered a class struggle, with society being organised along the lines of the owners of capital – the bourgeoisie and the workers – the proletariat. It was this class struggle that incubated a new ideological framework for the political economies of the newly industrialised nations of the world to challenge what was being denounced as capitalism.

The proposed alternative framework was the ideology of socialism. It was this ideology that saw the labour movement transformed into social democratic movements and eventually resulted in the formation of organised labour backed political parties.

Beginning with the formation of the Labour Party in the UK from an amalgamation of the Trade Union Congress of England and Wales with other elements of the organised labour movement in 1900s and the rise to eminence of the Bolshevik faction of the Social Democratic Party of Russia in 1903, organised labour all over the industrial world no longer sat on the sidelines as perpetual spectators in the game of partisan politics of democratic leadership recruitment.

This was so because as the most important factor of production, labour could no longer concern itself with just negotiating for its slice of bread with butter. The organised Labour movement, as matter of self-enlightened interest, decided to get involved in the baking of the bread and the preparation of the butter, in order to be in a better position to get a more satisfying slice.

By 1917, the Bolsheviks led by Vladimir Lenin rode to power on the back of the Russian revolution and the Labour Party of UK formed its first democratic government in 1924, with Ramsay McDonald as Prime Minister when it won the majority seat in the British parliament.

These labour-centred parties and others like them all over the world, successfully incorporated the ethos of social democracy in the politics of their respective nations, and mainstreamed the charter of demands of the organised labour movement in ways very profound, and which have largely resolved the existential problems of the financial inadequacy, inequality and insecurity of their members.

A vital lesson to be learnt from the transformational experiences of organised labour movements into political parties was that whilst it is true that labour is the most important factor of production, politics as the fourth factor of production was far more important.

Bringing this nearer home, the organised labour movement can no longer seat on the side lines as mere spectators in the politics of democratic leadership recruitment in Nigeria. The time is right for the labour movement in Nigeria to stop agonising over its inadequate bread and butter and must begin to organise to get involved in the process of baking a bigger loaf of bread, from which it can get an adequate slice for its members.

The scope of labour as a factor of economic production transcends mining, manufacturing, academia and manning the military-industrial complex, to the politics of democratic leadership recruitment. Since the transition from military to civil democratic rule in 1999, the organised labour movement in Nigeria has remained largely aloof and detached from matters of partisan politics to the detriment of the course of good governance in Nigeria.

The reason for the existence of a modern democratic nation-state must be more economic than political – the economics of production and not politics of consumption. And for a democratic nation-state to be able to provide security and welfare to its people, its politics must be primarily driven by the economics of production. This is so because no nation on earth is really endowed with abundant human and natural resources.

At best, nations are only endowed with enough natural and human resources, and they must necessarily look beyond their borders to shore up their resource bases through developmental immigration and overseas trade and investment. The most export competitive nations are those whose internal political processes are predicated on the economics of production and not those who economies are predicated on politics of consumption.

Unfortunately, the democratic Nigerian state exists more for the politics of consumption and less for the economics of production. This is sadly so because its politics is primarily driven by ethnic and religious sentiments, rather than economic common sense.

This is also because at the inception of the Fourth Republic, the organised labour movement in Nigeria, which is the most important economic interest group in the country, left partisan politics to ethnic champions and religious bigots, who imposed identity politics as the major driving force of Nigeria’s democratic leadership recruitment process.

And with an elaborately corrupt patronage system as the main reward for identity politics, the attendant financial haemorrhage is what has driven Nigeria broke and unable to pay living wages to its workers, to provide health care and decent housing for its people.

To effectively transform Nigeria from a consumption economy into a productive one, the organised labour movement will have to step out of the side lines into the main arena of partisan politics by harmonising its charter of demands into a concise peoples manifesto for national rebirth and democratic redemption from identity politics, with patronage as the reward system for a privileged few, to an economics driven politics, with good governance as reward for all.

However, to effectively transform Nigeria from consumption to production economy, the government can no longer hands off the means of production to private individuals alone. The neoliberal concept that seeks to keep government out of the means of production under the guise of “government has no business in business” is a proven fallacy that must be rescinded if not repudiated by the organised labour movement and insist on a new political economic philosophy that states that “government has business in business” because the main purpose of government is doing business and any government that cannot do business has no business being in government.

Dahiru, a public affairs analyst, writes from Abuja and can be reached through dahirumajeed@gmail.com.

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Share The Minister of Steel Development, Prince Shuaibu Audu, has commiserated with a former governor of Kogi State, Ibrahim Idris,...

NEWS18 hours ago

Recent Deaths in Movies Industry has Robbed the Nation of Legendary Filmmakers,  says Ali Nuhu

ShareThe Managing Director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), Mr Ali Nuhu , has said that recent deaths in the movie industry...

NEWS18 hours ago

Dosumu Market: 6 Buildings Collapsed, 16 others Impacted by Fire – LASEMA

Share The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) said the fire that engulfed Dosunmu Market on Lagos Island led to...

Metro18 hours ago

Home Owners Protest Against Alleged Exploitation by Estate Developer

ShareResidents of Urban PrimeTwo Estate at Ogonbo road, Abraham Adesanya in Ajah, Lagos, have staged a peaceful protest against alleged...

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