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Manage your oil wealth well, Venezuela urges Nigeria

 The Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, yesterday got more than she bargained for when Enerique Fernando Arrundell, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Nigeria, used the opportunity of his visit to her office to tell Nigerians some hard lessons
      on how to manage, develop and utilise their God-given
       natural resources for the benefit and good of all.
 
      The envoy, who was responding to an appeal by Mrs..
       Akunyili to help woo some of his country’s investors to
       come in and establish refineries under the federal
       government’s planned deregulation of the downstream sector
       of the nation’s petroleum industry, advised
       Nigeria to rather look inwards and to take full control of
       the industry.

      Though, he acknowledged Venezuela as a prominent member of
        the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
        like Nigeria, he said his country will be willing to
        collaborate with the federal government to develop the
        industry.

       The hard truth

       Mr. Arrundell said, “In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve
       never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill
        the tank. What I pay for with N12,000 here (Nigeria), in
      Venezuela I’ll pay N400. What is happening is simple. Our
       President (Hugo Chavez) decided
       one day to control the industry, because it belongs to the
       Venezuelans. If you don’t control the industry, your
       development will be in the hands of the foreigners.
 
       You have to have your own country. The oil is your
       country’s. Sorry I am telling you this. I am giving you
       the experience of Venezuela. We have 12 refineries in the
       United States, 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast. All we
       are doing is in the hands of the
       Venezuelans.”

        The envoy said, “Before 1999, we had three or four
        foreign companies working with us. That time they were
        taking 80 per cent, and giving us 20. Now, we have 90 per
        cent, and giving them 10. But now, we have 22 countries
        working with us in that condition.
 
       It is the Venezuelan condition. You know why? It is because
       60 per cent of the income goes to social programmes.
       That’s why we have 22,000 medical doctors assisting the
        people in the community. The people don’t go to the
       hospital; doctors go to their houses.
       This is because the money is handled by the Venezuelans.
       How come Nigeria that has more technical manpower than
       Venezuela, with 150 million people, and very intellectual
       people all around, not been able to get it right? The
       question is: If you are not handling
       your resources, how are you going to handle the country?
 
       “So, it is important that Nigeria takes control of her
        resources. We have no illiterate people. We have over 17 new
        universities totally free. I graduated from the university
        without paying one cent, and take three meals every day,
       because we have the resources.
        We want the resources of the Nigerian people for the
        Nigerians. It is enough! It is enough, Minister!”

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