Saturday, March 10, 2012

Boko Haram – Is poverty the cause? (I)

“According to official figures, the leading oil producing state, Rivers, received N1,053 billion between 1999 and 2008 in federal allocations. By contrast the North-eastern states of Yobe and Borno, where the Boko Haram sect was created, received N175bn and N213bn respectively. Broken down on a per capita basis, the contrast is even starker. In 2008 the 18.97m people who lived in the six states in the north-east received on average N1,156 per person.
Lamido Sanusi, Governor, CBN
“By contrast Rivers State was allocated N3,965 per capita, and on average the oil producing South- South region received on average N3,332 per capita. This imbalance is compounded when the cost of an amnesty programme for militants in the delta is included together with an additional 1 per cent for a special development body for the Niger Delta. To boot, the theft of oil by profiteers in the region diverts tens of millions more weekly from federal coffers.” – Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

Yes, forget these per capita figures! I agree the North is poor. Yes, I agree the poverty has bred millions of beggars, who have become instant and easy recruits for Boko Haram. But my question is: Who impoverished the North?
A caveat: I am an unabashed capitalist who believe that every citizen has a right to do good business and make profit. I salute hard work and do not disparage honest efforts. However, uncompassionate capitalism driven by pulleys of aristocracy breeds a brutal class order worthy of condemnation.
In my recent article titled, “El-Rufai’s amnesia: The day Boko Haram wore jeans”, I categorically stated that greed and the senseless chase for power by the Fulani aristocrats and political elite of the North are responsible for the extreme poverty of the North. I still and will always stand by that. My position did not go down well with my targets; they responded vituperatively.
Apparently, Sanusi’s statistics were intended to mislead us by ruffling the rudder of our common sense. See, Ekiti State has a 2012 budget 0f N88bn; Kwara State, N90bn; Cross River State, N144bn; Anambra State, N82bn; Enugu State, N74bn. Now let’s look at the 2012 budgets recently passed into law by the four major Boko Haram-occupied states: Kano State has a budget of N 210bn; Borno, N150bn; Gombe, N94 billion; Yobe, N80bn.
A simple comparative analysis shows that Ekiti has about the same revenue as Yobe and Gombe, but only 17 pupils passed the West African Examinations in Gombe last year, while Ekiti is known for its high literacy level. Gombe State has a bigger budget than Enugu and Anambra, why hasn’t the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra bombed anyone?
Borno State has a budget twice that of Enugu State but the poverty and unemployment level in Borno is more than thrice that of Enugu. Borno has a bigger budget than that of Cross River, a Niger Delta state, but while the leaders of the latter over the last decade have transformed it into the nation’s leading tourist destination, those of Borno have transformed it into a Somalia!
Kano State gets the highest statutory allocation from the Federal Government, because on paper, it is the most populous state in Nigeria, yet Kano has about 1.6 million poor Almajiris. Curiously, the state has a budget almost thrice the budget of Enugu, twice the budget of Kwara, Anambra and Ekiti. But, how come almost 90 per cent of pupils in Kano fail WAEC exam? How come the poverty level in Kano is higher than all these states put together?
Why is the North so poor? From the figures above I have shown that Southern states with lesser budgets have shown better development performance than most North-East states with bigger statutory allocations and budgets.
Now, I need to tackle the sensitive question of revenue allocation that has infuriated the Sanusi,  Nasir el-Rufai and their likes. Niger Delta states get higher revenue allocations because they contribute virtually all the eggs in the national crate. That is expected. Albeit the 13 per cent remains grossly inadequate, the CBN Governor has suggested that the ‘Boko boys’ are resisting the disparity.
I want to posit that the North-East through their aristocrats and ex-military rulers (except perhaps, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari rtd.) rake in more oil money (ironically, from the Niger Delta) individually than any Niger Delta state, and collectively more than twice the entire Niger Delta put together! In this disquisition, I have attempted to show that 80 per cent of crude oil and gas produced by indigenous companies is controlled by the North-East. It is an area they have well conquered through Generals Ibrahim Babangida,  Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar. However, the loot never gets back home.
In this first part, I will attempt to describe the uneven nature of the distribution of the nation’s wealth among the Northern aristocratic families and their military generals who for decades ‘looted’ Nigeria’s oil wealth. They did so blatantly, and while Nigeria was weeping about oil windfall loot and others. Nigerians would wail if they know how much of the nation’s resources these folks allocated to themselves and their business fronts before they stepped aside.
Let us therefore begin.
To the state of origin of Boko Haram: Borno State. Enter Cavendish Petroleum, the operators of OML 110 – with good yielding OBE field. This oil block was awarded to Alhaji Mai Deribe — the Borno patriarch, who even in death will remain the richest man dead or alive in the history of the state — by Abacha on July 8, 1996. OML 110 has a proven oil reserve in excess of 500 million barrels (More than the entire 300 milliom barrels reserve of Sudan). As yet with the capacity to produce about 120,000 barrels of crude oil daily from its OBE 4 and OBE 5 wells. At optimal production levels, Cavendish nets circa N4bn monthly in crude oil sales (Using current oil price of $100pb). Cavendish Petroleum’s N4bn monthly net dwarfs the monthly statutory allocation of Borno which is about N3bn and its internally generated revenue which staggers around N1bn.
I will then shift to the centre of the aristocratic hegemony in the North-Wast – Kano. Here, enter the Fulani Prince, Nasiru Ado Bayero, Sanusi’s cousin. He is a key shareholder and director in Seplat/Platform petroleum operators of the Asuokpu/Umutu Marginal Field with a capacity of 300,000 barrels monthly and A 30mmfcsd gas plant capable of feeding 100MT of LPG. The Ado Bayeros, Yar’Aduas and Atiku Abubakars are Nigerian holders of Intels. It is a private port that has grounded three Federal ports in the South. Intels is discussed later.

• AUTHOR - Ross Alabo-George, (Principal Consultant, Proxy Logics Nigeria, Port Harcourt, Rivers State).  He can be reached via
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