BUT FOR the fixation of Nigeria’s policy makers on grandiose, a lot of infrastructure and developmental challenges may have been addressed. When potholes appear on roads and major highways, they are left to degenerate into deep gullies so a big contract can be awarded and the leader will commission the rehabilitated and reconstructed road in elaborate ceremonies. Despite the proven effectiveness of small and medium scale enterprises as the sure route to industrialisation, the attention paid to supporting such ventures is perfunctory even when special purpose vehicles such as SMEDAN and People’s Bank were floated. Sooner than later, they become relics of government’s numerous failed projects that lacked political will. For over three decades, Nigeria has been grappling with crippling fuel scarcity. Having built huge refineries in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, policy makers had laid a template on the only way they know refineries can be built. Some years down the line with no funds for government to build new ones and the failure of repeated attempts at getting private entrepreneurs to key into the venture, our leaders had given up on developing local refining capacity, preferring to import products under various dubious deals. We had been fed series of stories on why Nigeria cannot build new refineries and having been lulled into lethargy by the conveyor belt of cheap dollars from sale of crude oil, successive governments opted to routinely approve huge sums in dollars for the Turn Around Maintenance, TAM, of the existing refineries that were noted more for being idle. Whenever the refineries are revived into gear, albeit temporarily, they never operate beyond 30 percent of installed capacity, the cabal in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, had created a massive money spinning machine for themselves in the name of TAM. With so much easy cash, recruiting any political office holder into the money machine was a fait accompli. It was deemed more convenient to import refined products from every conceivable place, including Cote d’Ivoire, a neighbouring West African country, that has no crude oil deposit in commercial quantity. This was at a time that as a self-appointed regional policeman under military rule, our rulers sent in the army to enforce the return of a democratically electe


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