Patriotism, a national virtue that lays emphasis on values and beliefs, a manifestation of love on a people through stewardship rendered in public service and governance, is the bedrock for national economic development. Patriotism involves loyalty, devotion, dedication with a sense of attachment, unquestionable integrity with vigorous support for one’s country. As a vast global traveller (having travelled widely in many continents of the world, in the course of business engagements), my interest was captured each time in places like South Africa, Greece, Qatar, Thailand and China, by the manner and ways foreign nationals show deep commitments in discharging their national assignments at their respective duty posts, selflessly protecting the interests of their countries (no matter the condition they found themselves at any point in time). These amazing observations made me have a rethink about my own country Nigeria, and what goes on in virtually all public institutions. As one keenly observed, the nationals enthusiastically working for their countries at their respective duty posts exuded diligence without guise, steadfast allegiance that is unconsciously inspired by love for their respective countries because they kept preventing damage and losses to their countries. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case in my own domestic clime, and it makes me lament and cry out. Why are we not doing it or getting it done the right way like these other nationals?
Primarily, the Nigerian economy has most unfortunately drifted from the expected economic performance standards to an embarrassingly all time low in price stability (vis-a-viz the very worrisome Naira exchange rate that is currently around 1,000 naira per US dollar; interest rate and the biting inflation on all goods and services, including the commodity price index). This observation has been identified to be linked to an abysmally low administrative performance of those placed in authority to manage the national economy, and ensure economic security. This is a situation that bothers on productivity, and it is an inefficiency issue (administratively) that has adversely impacted national economic efficiency. However, the perceived ailing nation’s economy, which has been sliding steadily with speed to a near-collapsed state, can be recovered and improved upon by cleaning up the mess frontally, changing the narrative and doing things differently.
With a larger perspective, the global economy presently grapples with climate issues affecting all nations of the world with different forms of environmental challenges that involve great losses (lives and valuable properties). These issues are aggressively being pursued and vigorously addressed through advocacy programmes at the United Nations, with the ongoing climate action measures the whole world multilaterally signed in 2012 (the Kyoto agreement). The measures being taken involve application of a control mechanism on the rising global temperature (global warming) not to exceed +1.5℃; through a decarbonization process against the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, caused by the activities of man on energy production and consumption (sourced from fossil fuels). This challenge and threat to human life and man’s sustainable existence on earth focuses seriously on energy efficiency and its climate compliance, which aggressively advocates zero tolerance for abuse of environmental compliance.
Frankly speaking, the energy business in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region (artisanal refineries), popularly known as ‘Kpo Fire’, where crude means or method is applied to heat up the distillation kettles of those illegal/artisanal refineries, with naked fire that devastates the entire operating environment, polluting everywhere with thick smokes of carbon dioxide/monoxide (CO2/CO) from constant burning of localised wildfire, that fills the atmosphere with black dirty soot; is not legitimate and is unscientific in practice. This crude local and unscientific refining technique creates a potent source of health hazards. However, the unscientific and crude refining technique calls for urgent attention of the government, to encourage our indigenous technology and innovatively improve on the local method through scientific research and development (R&D). The government’s attention should also address both the environmental mess, find a solution that properly engages those illegal refiners legitimately, than throwing away the baby with the bathwater, as recently observed from the actions of the Pipeline Infrastructure Nigeria Limited that destroyed illegal refineries by setting them ablaze, thereby further escalating the global warming risks, instead of mitigating climate change.
The relevant regulatory organs of the federal government and other professional institutions (the likes of NESREA, NMDPRA, PTI Warri, etc) are needed to optimally and professionally do the needful for a scientifically proven and certified technology on the simple local technique, as an improved and affordable indigenous refining mode that could compete in terms of scientifically certified product’s yield standards, against the orthodox modular refining unit that is super-expensive (due to its content of a complex catalytic converter unit). Such indigenous but laudable strategic approach (if successfully actualized) would go a long way to reducing all forms of criminalities attached to these illegal and crude means applied by artisanal operators within the region (including crude oil theft). The supposedly scientifically improved indigenous refining technique could efficiently perform as our unique local refining mode that can prospectively reduce the pressure on FX by totally eliminating refined products imports.
Our energy imports, as observed, “automatically import inflation into the economy” (assuming the gigantic Dangote Refinery or the 4 government owned moribund refineries are excluded from this picture). I am, therefore, persuaded that local refineries must be up and running for provision of refined products, towards attainment of self sufficiency for economic efficiency leading to economic security, through patriotic administrative performance of those whom it is their responsibility, to rethink and efficiently exploit the hydrocarbon capital stock, than having it as stranded assets (now that fossil fuels are being phased out for energy transition process, globally), at the downstream subsector of the petroleum industry.