Tukur’s trip to US (2)
By Acho Orabuchi,
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Welcome to the concluding piece of this two-part story. Interestingly, examining the context and rigor of Tukur’s activities in Houston, I reminisced my youthful age, not too long ago, when I could engage in non-ending activities without being exhausted at the end of the day. I still try today, but not as much as I did a few years ago.

Certainly, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the incredulously hectic schedule of activities Dr. Bamanga Tukur kept in the United States right from the wee hours he arrived on the 28th of April; he maintained the same pace until his departure a few days later.

During the course of the activities, some people pleaded with him to go and get some rest since he arrived at about 5:00 a.m. To the surprise of many, he shrugged off the empathy and continued with the activities—a testament of a man who would defy age for the sustenance of democracy and economic growth of his country. The activities aptly burnished his youthful heart and energetic disposition—maybe to the chagrin of many of us who could only imagine such a rigorous schedule.

The marathon of events notwithstanding, the contents of those activities yielded a promising future for Nigeria.
Well, as we continued to converse about his trip to the United States and its economic benefits to Nigeria, Tukur referred me to his address to the participants at the African Business Roundtable forum in which he primarily focused on the new frontier of new energy development. With his uncanny ability, Tukur pushed for clean energy with an astonishing persuasion.

The excerpts: “We commend the African Business Roundtable for providing the platforms such as this for dialogue, providing insight and setting the agenda on topical issues with economic and socio-political implications.” “It’s quite appropriate that this Roundtable on ‘Pathways to Energy Sustainability in a Recovering Global Economy’ is taking place in Houston, Texas, the energy capital of the world. We have come to listen and to learn, and to engage in meaningful dialogue that will help us chart the right part to energy sustainability for all regions of our world.”

“Historically, economic growth results in increased use of energy. Currently, much of the world energy is dependent on fossil fuels and natural gas. The increased use of this form of energy leads to increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other Green House Gases, with devastating effects on the environment, causing alarming climatic conditions. A balance must, therefore, be struck in meeting the challenge of providing energy to drive development and mitigating the effects of environmentally harmful emissions.”

“The wave of crises, violent revolutions and wars that swept through the oil rich Arab world and North African region; and the lingering tension in the Middle East region, are creating severe distortions in energy prices the world over.”
“The price volatility of fossil fuel had negative impacts on the economies of several countries, escalating energy costs, with poor countries feeling the pinch more. The ever increasing energy costs in the developed economies has put a strain on budgets at national, firms, household and individual levels, thus reducing the quality of life”

“Green economy has sound economic and social justification. There is an urgent need for redoubling efforts by both governments as well as the private sector to engage in such an economic transformation. Governments must engage in policy reforms to provide a level playing field for investments in green technology and adopt efficient management of the processes and resources, derivable from extractive minerals; while private sector must develop its capacity to understand and take advantage of opportunities in the emerging energy sector and respond appropriately to policy reforms.”

“It is, therefore imperative, that the world must seek ways to provide cheap, efficient, reliable and clean energy on a sustainable basis. A development pathway that charts the course from the existing systems to a more sustainable system via bridging technologies should be the order of the day. This will ensure a more inclusive system where no region is left to play catch up.”

Tukur delivered his address to a large receptive and captivating audience who were eager to venture into Nigeria’s energy sector. Suffice it to say that some people in attendance were willing to do business in Nigeria, but the big elephant in the room was insecurity. On his part, President George Walker Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, reaffirmed the goal and objectives of the African Business Roundtable thereby levitating the significance of Tukur’s effort in the area of economic development in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. Since Bush’s comments were off the record, I am duty-bound not to report them. Generally speaking, Bush was animated when he spoke. He was personable as he spoke the hearts of majority of the people in attendance. Indeed, Bush is a likeable person when one comes close to him.

Going back to the efforts of Tukur to attract investments to Nigeria, security concerns seemed to trump all the nascent ideas of foreign investment in today’s Nigeria. His private pitch to some potential investors as to the reasons Nigeria is the best place to invest may be compelling, but some people would be hedging against such a venture because of a vivid uncertainty in the country. Thus, it is critically important for the government to find ways to resolve security issues in the country promptly.

Without security, the best economic plan or foreign investment efforts can awfully go awry.
In the same token, there should be credible policies that would require multinational companies and new investors to reinvest in the locale in which they operate. In fact, watching these companies inauspiciously bilk resources in various places without any social responsibility and economic commitment in the areas is unconscionable.

Amid a litany of environmental atrocities committed by the oil companies in Nigeria, Nigerians should rightly assail any operation that does not have adequate social and environmental responsibility component. Without adequate regulatory and enforcement policies, multinational corporations, particularly oil companies, will continue to focus on profit thereby neglecting the environment and the people in their areas of operation.

Sadly, it was reported in Eco Nigeria on January 26, 2012 about oil spill from Total platform that was neglected. Perhaps, it’s still not been cleaned till today. The report stated, “National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) officials were ignorant of the spill incident when contacted for their response to the reported oil spill in Total’s Odudu crude oil platform. The regulators are hampered by the fact that they depend on the oil companies to transport them in their aircrafts to the oil fields and they only oblige the regulator when they have cleaned up the oil deposits from the spill sites.”

While Nigeria needs foreign investors to boost its economy, it needs, more importantly, socially and environmentally responsible investors that will reinvest in the people and community in which they operate. I personally commend Tukur for all his efforts to improve the lives of Nigerians through a sound and progressive economic development. Since we touched on security issues in Nigeria during our conversation, what did Tukur say on the menace of Boko Haram? Please read his perspective later in my column.

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