I am writing this piece as a patriotic Nigerian who is deeply concerned and worried about the spate bombing in Nigeria.
No matter the size of a balloon, if there is no strong rope to hold it down, air, which is even invisible to the eye, will blow it away. No matter the number of balloons in a room, a single pin or thorn can be used to puncture them all. Today, we can liken Nigeria to a big balloon that is being blown away by the invisible wind (Boko Haram). Today, we can liken Nigerians to many balloons in a room where they are being punctured by small pins—i.e., corruption, religion, and ethnicity. The elephant (Nigeria, giant of Africa!) has stepped on a strong thorn (corruption) and the thorn has pierced deep into the elephant’s foot. Who will remove the thorn from the foot of the elephant called Nigeria? It is our collective duty. How do we solve these problems? We need to arm ourselves with the right information.
Somebody, a non-Nigerian, once told me that Nigerians are docile. But back then, 2004, I knew within me that Nigerians were not just docile but also exceptionally uninformed. Today, we have all seen for the umpteenth time that the development and burgeoning application of information and technology in the industrialised countries are of tremendous benefits to their progress. In the last decade, we too have gradually evolved from being uninformed to being misinformed—at least, that is some progress, though, still very unhealthy for us. I am saying we are misinformed because that is the only pillar on which I can rest my argument. We were misinformed in the last general elections, and particularly the presidential election. That is why someone who refused to participate in the pre-election debates conducted across the nation and without even presenting to the nation a solid agenda could emerge as the president elect, Federal Republic of Nigeria!
I will consider Shell Oil's management control fiasco as my case study in this article. Oil and gas reserves are very essential to the business of a company like Shell. The issue is that Shell in the latter part of 1990’s decided to make oil reserves a target, to which was tied a reward—for the managers, provided they be successful in increasing the reserves. Guess what, very robust oil reserves were displayed in Shell as from 1998, and all of us called it a healthy development then. Everything looked like it was well, until late 2003. By January 2004, a deeply embarrassed Shell board was left with no other option but to confess that it had overstated the oil reserves by whooping 4.4 billon oil equivalents, or approximately a quarter of the total reserves. The abuse was on for no less than five years. The managers got sacked yes, but the problem was and, perhaps, is still in Shell’s system. To digress a little, I wouldn’t know whether our Petroleum minister was in Shell during those five years. If she was, then we should know by now why our petroleum sector is facing so many problems today. *Winks.*
Measuring oil and gas reserves with scientific accuracy as a basis of assessment for Shell managers back then was impossible because oil reserves estimation involves subjective judgment. If this can ensue with tangible physical resources, what do you think can happen with valuing the intangible information we are getting daily? Imagine the high level of abuse that tangible physical resource, oil reserves, faced in the hands of Shell managers. That should tell us that a substantial part of the information flying about on the internet and in our media is incorrect, or possibly being manipulated. Therefore, we still need to scrutinise it further.
One of the best ways, if not the best, to remove the "thorn from the elephant’s foot" is to get the right information because we are in a century that is propelled by information. In this century, countries that get the right information do not have the kind of "terrorism" problems we are having in Nigeria. Let us get our own information right. If we cannot get the right information to permanently defeat Boko Haram now, we should work on getting the right information to elect the best hands in the coming elections. In this information driven age, right information is the best weapon to combat security challenges in any nation.