Indeed, it was great relish on hearing that Sokoto state intend to explore the newly- discovered crude oil deposits in the state. According to the Times of Nigeria, the governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko also disclosed this information to the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar III, who paid him Salah homage at the Government house. The next question that came to my mind was how this oil discovery and intended exploration would benefit the state, its citizenry and the nation in general.
With this discovery, there is now a possibility that oil can indeed be found in the Northern region of Nigeria. Many people have always seen the possibility of such crude oil discovery as a speculative fiction at play. Now, we all know better. Now, this discovery also means that there is now an above-average possibility that these crude oil deposits can also be found in other neighboring states like Zamfara state or Kebbi state. All that is needed is more intensive search by expatriate oil companies like Shell, Agip e.t.c. As we all know, the Kaduna refinery is the only oil refinery in the North. But with the crude oil discovery in Sokoto, we expect to see more refineries being built. An economic boom is highly anticipated in Sokoto state, and the Northern region in general. Massive job opportunities would be created and there would be an influx of expatriates and even unemployed Southerners into that region of the country. But, the question that again crop to one’s mind is would the security of these expatriates be guaranteed, especially in the spate of kamikaze-like bombings and violence going on in that part of the country.
Indeed, the issue of insecurity in the Northern region of Nigeria is an over flogged issue. Still, in the face of this discovery, there is now a greater urgency to curtail this act of violence prevalent in that part of the country. But, first and foremost, kudos must be given to the Northern Governors forum for the formation of the 41-Man Peace committee to look into the problem of insecurity and other dominant issues retarding development in the Northern region. I do hope the committee would also look into the discovery and intended exploration of the crude oil deposit in Sokoto state and take precautionary, strategic and anticipatory steps to make that project a success. All stake-holders should work with the objective that when the time is ripe, the ground needs to be receptive to home-based and foreign expatriates to come down to that region of the country to transact oil business .But, when such insecurity still prevail, not anyone would be encouraged to come and invest. Also, we are aware of the past situations in the Niger-Delta states where group of militants can easily hold the government by ransom by blasting oil facilities in that region or kidnapping oil expatriates. This can replicated if restive and unemployed youths from Sokoto state decide to saboteur the oil project .As we all know, the cause these militants are always agitating for are poverty, youth restiveness and unemployment. Steps should be taken to avoid a repeat of the Niger-Delta militancy in the North. We pray we do not have a case in the future where an oil refinery is blown and the President would be asking the Chief Security adviser which of them blew the oil rigs; is it the Southern militants, the Northern militants or the Boko-Haram sect? That is one extreme case of insecurity we, as a nation, does not want on our hand.
That is why I am so impressed with Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto hinting in a recent interview that he would still focus on the development of the agricultural sector, even with discovery of crude oil in commercial quantity in his state. Indeed, he knows there is power in diversification. Creating job opportunities, especially in the agricultural sector, is a laudable move that would keep the youths busy and fulfilled knowing their energetic spirit and entrepreneurial flair is being fully put to use.
All hands should not only be working on deck, but on other integral parts of the ship called Nigeria.
This ship shall never sink.
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