Thursday, 10 January 2013


The Kunle Ogunfuyi Photo exhibition of the mass strike action of January 10th -17th, 2012 organized by the Nigeria Joint Action Front was declared open today by Omooba (Engr.) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon. The exhibition is at the premises of the National Museum in Lagos. It is billed to last till the 17th of January, 2013.
Below is the full text of Engr. Shyllon’s address at the opening of the Photo exhibition. 

We are apparently all here today to view the photo exhibition of the joint strike action of Nigerian human right activists tagged “Occupy Nigeria”, in protest against the 2012 New Year day petrol price arbitrary increase as captured by Kunle Ogunfuyi. That mass action was organized by patriotic and selfless Nigerians of the “JOINT ACTION FRONT”, to protest the arbitrary fuel price increase of refined petroleum by the federal government by as much as 117%. These Nigerians, with Kunle and his camera, filed out with uncommon courage at great risk to their lives to influence history for our common good. The arbitrary fuel price increase was seen by the majority of Nigerians as a clear disregard to the feelings of Nigerians in view of the debilitating multiplier effect on our national economy in terms of the cost of goods and services and their standard of living. I on my own, only feebly reacted at that time, by writing an opinion in opposition to the arbitrary increase which was published in "The News" magazine, lamenting the unfeeling nature of the Nigerian government to the plight of the generally impoverished Nigerian population. The revelations that have since followed this opposition is to be observed in the endemic industry of fraud, tagged, "fuel subsidy scam" and the widely reported protracted and inconclusive investigations and prosecutions which have unfortunately proved right, the position taken by the activists and some of us.   That massive strike action organized by the Joint Action Front followed some similar mass oriented “Arabs spring” strikes as was then first activated by the Tunisians, then the Yeminis and the Egyptians.
However one must commend the federal government of Nigeria for not subjecting the “Occupy Nigeria” activists to the same fate experienced in 2012, in some African countries, including one in particular, where it was widely reported that some 34  unarmed and defenseless mine workers were slaughtered by the state police under a democratic government. The unarmed strikers were only striking against their poor remuneration and inhuman living conditions. To that extent, my kudos go to our president, Dr.  Ebele Jonathan for exhibiting restraint and his widely acknowledged humanity in not using the Nigerian armed forces in that manner to quell the right of Nigerians to protest against the arbitrary fuel price increase. This should not however stop us from publicly lamenting the lack luster management of the Nigerian economy and the misplaced priorities of Nigerian governments and its leaders. 
Firstly this mismanagement can be found in the widespread public squandering of our national resources by the federal government and the majority of our state governments (except some very few), in proposing to spend in 2013, over 70% of their projected incomes on recurrent expenditures. Most of these recurrent expenditures are meant to be spent in funding widely acknowledged, bloated and poor performing executive arms of governments and their agencies, idle legislative arm of governments which are largely acclaimed to be self serving and corrupt, equally idle and over bloated but well entrenched systematically corrupt body of civil servants and a de-motivated and poorly equipped military and police force. The small percentage left of our 2013 projected national revenue on capital expenditure, is habitually expected to be spent in financing the machinery of ruling political parties in grossly inflated contracts that are usually awarded not for the purpose of performance but for rewarding political jobbers and family members.
Omooba (Engr.) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
For decades as a nation, we have generated hundreds of billions of dollars from exporting crude oil with little to show for it, in terms of investing in sustainable development programs, increasing the living standard of Nigerians, producing well planned and coordinated infrastructural developments and putting economic structures in place to compensate for our ever growing and uncontrolled population. Statistical justification for this assertion can be found in the recently published Mo Ibrahim’s governance index of 2012, which identified the top 10 African countries in 2012, that showed improvements in governance in descending order as follows: Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles, South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Tunisia, Lesotho and Tanzania. Tanzania made it to the top 10 for the first time in 2012.   Guinea Bissau, the small Portuguese speaking country in West Africa and Nigeria were classified as the worst African economic performers. Nigeria was listed in that report amongst the three worst governed countries, where there are steep declines in safety, the rule of law and human right abuses.
In Nigeria, we don’t engage in meaningful debates, but are very good at prayers and throwing parties. We are predominantly a nation of consumers and not producers. We engage in exporting crude oil, unprocessed agricultural products, import refined petroleum and all processed basic food items, including unnecessary, superfluous and luxurious goods. We love the good things of life but generally forget to plan for the future as a people and nation. We take planning, setting and monitoring of developmental goals and hard work for granted. With very little godliness in our lives, we hypocritically proclaim and showcase our religiosity for all to observe and then go to sleep expecting miracles to happen. Our elites and leaders are best at simply displaying the rottenness of what has become Nigeria. This is very sad. At this rate, the ship of our economic state as a nation is heading for disaster if we fail to act. We should be worried and sad at the way our leaders and the elites in our society display wealth with ignominy. Nigeria has exported crude oil for over fifty years and has basically imported refined petroleum virtually all our lives. We feel contented doing so without our leaders taking advantage of our crude oil endowment to develop local industries, refine it to become net exporters of refined petroleum, enhance our productive, technical and scientific development around the about 2,000 chemical derivative products obtainable from crude oil and in the process of all these, generate employment for the over 65% of our 160million plus population, who are youths.
The latest published outlook of the Paris based prestigious International Energy Agency (IEA) as per November 2012 world energy prognosis, indicate that America is expected to become self sufficient in gas production in 2015,  to surpass Saudi Arabia as the biggest oil producer in 2020 and to become self sufficient in energy by the year 2030 as new drilling technologies emerge, alternative fuel energy savings are effected, increased reduction in carbon dioxide emission are achieved and declining consumption ultimately reduce the need for the United States to import crude oil. The referred published 2012 outlook of the IEA report should have set off an alarm bell in Nigeria where the chief economist of IEA, by name, Faith Birol, who is not prone to a hype, is stated to have issued this alarming report. Faith Birol is reported to have stated that the biggest thing in the energy world since World War II is the expected surge in the United States oil and gas production. The impact is expected to be bigger than the development of nuclear energy. This statement by Birol is stated to have been made at the 4th annual Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit of the IEA world energy outlook 2012. This prediction has implications for the whole world in general and Nigeria in particular. Since this report was issued in November 2012, Nigerian leaders have been going about the affairs of this country without apparent consciousness to the danger it portends to our economic well being as a nation. The danger ahead for Nigeria is made worse in our behavior as a nation, by not projecting ahead and establishing structures to cushion us, in the future, against this worrisome prediction, more so, in the light of the the impact of projections of our population growth to more than 300 million people in some 40yrs from now. Worse still, we are failing as a nation to plan for the future impact of the increasing discovery of crude oil in places that hitherto were never expected in our recent past to produce it in commercial quantities – e.g.  Ghana, Niger and of recent, Togo.
 In addition, we are failing to note the very pronounced strategic ongoing research of many nations in non fossil fuel and other possible sources to avert the perils of global warming. If the search for non fossil energy and other sources lead to commercial and economic possibilities and if more countries with special emphasis on China and Japan were to discover oil or other energy sources in commercial quantities in the near future, then our economic future as a nation is very bleak.
Omooba (Engr.) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
Many of our leaders and elites are ignominiously insensitive to the prevailing economic deprivation of over 70% of the Nigerian population living below subsistence level. A statistical example of this assertion can be found in the November 2012 issue of the African Business Magazine where a report is published of Nigerian’s splurge on private jets. The magazine went on to report that in the last five years, Nigeria’s wealthy elites have spent over 6.5 billion US dollars on private jets, thus making Nigeria, Africa’s biggest market for private jets. It is reported in that same issue that between March 2010 and March 2011 Nigerians spent over 225 million US dollars on private jets. The number of privately owned aircrafts rose by 650% between 2007 and 2012 from 20 to 150 at an average cost of about 50 million US dollars per jet. Indeed, some Nigerian newspapers put the number of private jets in Nigeria as at 2012 at some 200. The cost of acquiring the jets excludes the high annual overhead cost of running and maintaining the private jets. We need to juxtapose this information with the situation by end 2012, in our domestic aviation industry being made up of two local carriers with only 37 airplanes, majority of which are old, no national airlines and another 10 in the presidential fleet. What a country of selfish and greedy leaders?
The above misplaced priorities and greed have not left out the leaders of our churches who squander monies in procuring private jets at their personal disposal under the pretext of doing the work of God.  In the past, this fag was more common with bank executives with questionable source of wealth, followed by politicians and now by Nigerian church leaders. This situation obviously calls for the enactment of an act along the 1993 charities act of England and Wales with provisions for churches to be jointly managed by church founders and church boards of trustees with the operations and financial affairs of churches being made subject to an annual audit of the state.  Under this statutory arrangement, any member of church management who is proven to be in breach of the rules of financial transparency entrenched in the act, should be made to face the law like a common criminal. 
The biggest industry in Nigeria today is the church with the largest patronage.  Our church leaders brazenly display wealth at the expense of their poor followers who generally live below poverty level in the midst of their church leader’s squander mania. It also explains why our various governments, would for political expediency, rather sponsor thousands if not millions of political jobbers every year on religious pilgrimages as against more productively using such funds to award scholarships to our youths, create employment for them and invest in university researches and other productive ventures. This is a well entrenched industry for rewarding political jobbers. By sending political jobbers for holy pilgrimages in a country with a constitution that is clearly stated to be secular, only results in building the tourist industry in Saudi Arabia and Israel at the expense of the good of our country. The situation is reported to be increasingly worse than this, given the unsubstantiated report that many of our elites are now buying up properties made up of mansions and apartments in Israel and Saudi Arabia from the pillages of our national wealth.
In another vein, our legislators are not left out of this our pervasive malady in their flagrant display of wealth. It appears that, they have jettisoned the making of laws for the more lucrative public display of pretentious forensic audits, by inviting virtually every minister and heads of federal government agencies to self serving investigations. In the first place, our economy cannot healthily sustain our current large number of full time legislatures and their equally large retinue of associated staff. We may find, if we care to search, as a way of amending our constitution to that effect, some millions of well to do Nigerians who would be prepared to serve this nation as federal legislators, on part time basis, at minimum expense to our national economy as against the present full time legislative arm of government that cost the Nigerian nation about 300 billion naira, if not more, per annum to make very few laws. Of recent, a report was made in one of our national papers that some preponderant number of our legislatures do not return to the house after serving two terms. What a loss to this nation in terms of continuity, experience and expertise. Nigeria does not need full time legislatures. Nigeria can cut down its recurrent expenditure by structuring itself for part time legislatures made up of those with the wherewithal to sustain themselves for the benefit of selflessly making laws for this country at minimum cost to Nigerians.
One must not fail to also comment on the widely reported advice of our CBN governor who recently advised that Nigeria needs to cut its labour force in the civil service by as much as 50%, but what he got in return was a series of abuses. A cursory visit to our ministries will appear to reveal a great number of civil servants who go to work every day, merely to idle away and having little or nothing to do but with everything to selfishly gain at our common expense. This observation is probably strengthened by the on- going "pension funds scam” and as per the recent report of the lamentation of our president who is said to have stated that some directors in our federal civil service own more properties than Aliko Dangote. What Nigeria needs to do, is to implement the advice of those clamoring for a drastic reduction in the number of civil servants in our bureaucratic life. But in doing so, we must prepare and provide against the social backlash from that reduction by offering those to be disengaged, some well planned skill development and entrepreneurship programs prior to their disengagement and giving them seed money to set up cooperative ventures of small and medium scale enterprises, thereby creating employment and growing our economy from the medium to long term. We can in this way, reduce drastically our annual recurrent expenditures by disengaging idle hands and over aged public servants declaring false ages with a view to remaining longer in the system for their selfish gains. Such a program will result in encouraging them to take up the bait of offered seed money and training in acquiring skills to set up their own businesses that would contribute to providing employment for our medium and long term economic development as a nation.  This suggestion is even more expedient, given the situation of the state of unemployment of our teeming population of young graduates. Nigeria is reported to have in unemployment, over 60% of its 65% population. This explains why we are increasingly experiencing the large number of kidnapping incidents, armed robberies, car snatching and advance fee fraud since the bubbling energy of our young graduates are not being put to productive uses by being gainfully employed.
In conclusion, our leaders need to fashion out strategies to promote the sustainable development of our national economy for the good of this country. Our leaders must stop being insensitive to the prevailing reality of the continued economic decline of this nation and the dangers ahead as per the IEA 2012 outlook and our projected huge population some 40yrs from now. We need to do something about growing this economy to stop us from being just exporters of crude oil but rather make us net exporters of refined petroleum, create the parameters and the structures for attracting investment into our country and reduce our recurrent expenditure levels to below 50% of our annual budgets. By implementing some of the suggestions raised here, we will be on our way to building a strong base for small and medium scale industry through the drastic reduction in the over bloated size of our civil servants in a structured and planned way while at same time creating employment of our largely unemployed youths. By designing various programs for the employment of our teeming millions of youths, we will also be solving our nagging social problems that are giving our nation a notoriously bad image among tourists and international investors.  We must act to halt the retrogressive economic degradation of our country. We must also develop the courage to punish the looters of our national common wealth, no matter how highly placed. We must ostracize those with ill gotten wealth in our society if we want to save this nation from abyss.
Finally, let us put strategies in place to grow our agricultural production, associated processing and storage industries, and build derivative petroleum industries for an encouraging future as a nation.
May we not have cause as a people to weep for our nation in some decades to come. The blame would be on us for Not raising and solving these pertinent issues when we should have mustered the courage to do so for the good of our country.

Prince (Engr) Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon
             Founder / CEO
Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF)

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