Author Archive

Degradation of Land due to Exploration of the Commons

December 7, 2016

I visited a friend in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria few year ago and for the first time what I saw that happening in the region scared me. Is it degradation of land , water pollution or the prevailing  sickness in the community, the abject poverty and the impending danger looming over the community? with over 600billion dollars estimated as generated income from the region since the 1960s. Majority of the Niger Delta population liven in abject poverty. You will not understand the extent of damage caused by oil companies and administrative neglect of Nigerian government to the ecosystem and socio economic development of the people of the Niger delta region until you visit the area. Anyone can stay at the corner of their house in other part of Nigeria or the world  and judge the people of violence, the truth is that the situation and condition of this region are under reported, swept under carpet and treat as trivial things by the government  and the Oil companies.

My friend said the situation of the community was not like this three decades ago. According to him, the people depend on the land for agriculture, the river for fishing and the bush for collection of forest products for livelihood. But everything changed when Oil exploration started. Sadly, ‘the government and private multinational Oil companies took control of the community’s common resources- land, water, oil and left them in the cold  with nothing!’ he explained . They are now strangers on their own land. The people do not know how many barrels of oil are on their fishing water and farmland. But it I evident that both the government and the Oil multinational companies reap financial benefit from drilling and refining of crude oil in the community; while the people bear the burden of loosing their farmland, rivers, health  and community, not only today but also in the future. From  my visit, the condition of the community is in contrast  with the wealth generated by Oil. The community lack clean water and air, lack basic social amenities and have no means of livelihood. Oil spills, gas flaring, waste dumping has damaged the soil, water and air quality, displacing hundreds of thousands of families. The question is can we say these Nigerian communities is doomed for Hardin’s tragedy of the commons? and  if it is so, is there any to avoid it? The Ibeno communities of Niger Delta area have been fighting the course for more than three decades with no signs of victory. The aquatic life is endangered by emulsification of the water caused when evaporation of the volatile low molecular weight components effect aerial life. In the region, about 390 millions tons of C02 emission annually from flaring gas has exceeded the Kyoto Protocol  standard and has a global impact on climate change.

Marx and other classicists believe that extension of market is a catalyst for economic growth, the analysis of Marx’s view is based on historical back ground of a society. The production should adapt and consider the social, political and spiritual aspects of the community life to be successful. The disadvantage – ‘lack’ (poverty)  in developing countries make the entry of these multinational companies gained entry into these communities in the first instance. (Cave, 1996).

 

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Modern Enclosure: Third Heathrow Runway

December 7, 2016

The recent decision by the British government to go ahead with the expansion of the third Heathrow runway was vehemently resisted by the residents of the surrounding villages whose homes are to be bulldozed to accommodate the third runway; Climate campaigners and opposition parties in United Kingdom  are against this move as well. meanwhile, the struggle to cope with the displacement and the new environment reality, increased noise and pollution is already traumatic for the residents around Heathrow Airport. Of course, it is business as usual with the government, it is very clear, the interest is extra profit! Yes, profit indeed 50% in flight tariffs and airport taxes which would generate billions of pounds for the managers of Heathrow airport and the government to the detriment of the people’s well being and environment. This poses a big moral question to business managers and the government, how long  will they continue to undermine habitable climate in the name of profit?  Currently, people around the Airport do not enjoy good night sleep because of noise, which make the campaigners to call for a ban of night flights which according to a reliable source has been ratified by the Airport Commission. According to statistics, Heathrow Airport has the highest (population) percentage of 28% representing 725,500 compared to the lowest 0.2% representing 5,700 of Liverpool John Lannon Airport in terms of people affected across the European Union.

According to ‘the SUN’, at least 750 homes will be demolished in the construction of Heathrow’s third runway . Tens of thousands of people will be under new  flight paths. According to campaign group called Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (HACAN), many people in West London and Berkshire could get planes for as many as 13 hours in one day as they are under the Heathrow flight paths. Heathrow Management has suggested that a congestion charge may  need to be introduced  to deal with the extra traffic on the M25, between junctions14 and 15 creating more hardship for the commoners.

ECONOMIC SLAVERY: BREAKING THE RULE OF LAW

December 7, 2016

It is clear that what drives capitalism is the ‘commodification’ of not only goods but also services and people, talents and ideas in the name of trade. The vulture will always go to where the carcasses are; such is the story of British American Tobacco Company (BAT). With firm actions taken by Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World bank to curb the growth and consumption of tobacco (due to increasing health hazards worldwide) merged with ban on Tobacco advertisement in the Western world, cigarette manufacturers like BAT has relocated their manufacturing industries to Africa because of cheap labour and weak rules of regulation.

For instance, in Nigeria, the western region is regarded as the food basket of the nation  for more than a century, but the arrival of the foreign Tobacco companies like BAT changed the established ways of life, governing of the commons, cultural, social and ethical conditions of the people of western region of Nigeria. The incentive brought by the tobacco companies made many farmers  to divert their environmental resources to  the planting of Tobacco. Tobacco  growing offers new life style to the farmers, it displaced planting of traditional staple food by offering farmers some money (loan) with seed of tobacco to plant. The immediate money offered (as a bait) to the farmers cannot sustain them in taking care of their family, because they have to go and buy food from someone else, pay school fees of their children among many other family responsibilities. As a result, many of these farmers  ended up in debt

Many farmers become modern day slaves to the company because they were unable to repay the loan from the tobacco company. The farmers now experience long hours of stoop labour, harassment, abject poverty, staggering debt, exposure to nicotine and pesticide as well as poor health. The action of the companies have  disrupted  the  social, economical and environmental life of the farming communities. While the tobacco companies generate million of dollars in profit and conceal  the actual amount from the public, this benefit worsens the economic condition of the community and jeopardize the harmony of natural environment.

In July 2008, BBC conducted an investigation against the activities of BAT in Africa and came out with a documentary titled ‘Bannatyne Takes on Tobacco’ and exposed that the tobacco multinational was breaking rules in Nigeria, Malawi and Mauritius.

In 2009, there was a rumour that cigarette manufactures in Africa were involved in illicit activities in West African region. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)investigated the rumour and published a report entitled ‘ Transnational Trafficking and the Rule of Law in West Africa: A Threat Assessment where they exposed that about cigarettes worth more than US $774 million were smuggled into Africa.

Upon all the money BAT is making either legally or illegally, they are very inconsiderate in the wealth distribution that suppose to be extended to the farmers who have lost their traditional ways of life that made they to be happy and proud in their communities. The new advent of tobacco business which is uncustomary to them put them in debts and shame.

Donald Trump vs Paris Agreement

December 4, 2016

According to the United nations environment, the world is heading for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celcius this century, even with Paris pledges, making sustainability of the environment a global issue. In 2015, all the leaders of the world took a giant step in sustaining the planetary earth in Paris to foster low carbon economy and promote sustainable growth in building a climate resilient society. The biggest source of future instability according to the scientists is now climate change. But the Paris agreement is under threat with the emergent of  Donald Trump  as the president-elect in  United State of America.

During campaign, American president-elect, Donald Trump opposed the Paris climate accord and promised to cancel those agreements which he claimed was bad for business. In his interview with radio talk show Hewitt; Trump said “Obama thinks ‘climate change’ is the number one problem of the world today. And I think it’s very low  on the list. So I am not a believer and I will unless somebody can prove something  to me, I believe there’s a  weather. I believe there is a change and it goes up and it goes down and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer and we have much bigger problems”. This is not the first time Donald Trump a contemporary capitalist has denies climate change. In 2012 he claimed that climate change was a ‘hoax’, created by and for the Chinese to kill manufacturing companies and jobs in America. Trump’s  opines climate  change is not the biggest problem facing America today or the world. It’s just a Hoax to take job away from America,. His appointment  of the  strongest critics of climate change. Myron Ebell to lead American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team; explain Trump’s resilience to weaken EPA’s in America and undo all national and international commitments to climate action

Globally, there is trepidation surrounding trump’s view on climate change. US is the second largest gas polluter after China, many experts fear that Trump’s threat to pull America out of Paris agreement would not only leave the crusade on climate change leaderless but cripple landmark on global climate and environmental regulations such as the clean power plan, clean water and clean air plan; leaving developing countries and many impoverished  and minorities’ communities  around the world  to be at the mercy of  corporate polluters. I want to summit that Donald Trump needs education  on how to respect the environment, he has no clue on the necessity of sustainability in human relation to the earth. I think Donald trump needs to visit Africa for lessons on climate change; for instance Nigeria and see how climate change  and desertification have manifested in the drying up of Lake Chad, where the livelihood of 30million people inhabitants  are at stake. You don’t need to be a climatologist or metrologies to see connection between climate change causing drought, immigration and hike in food prices.

 

Capitalism and Sustainability: Is it Possible?

December 2, 2016

“If our economies are to flourish, if global poverty is to be banished, and if the well being of the world’s people enhanced – not just in this generation, but in succeeding   generations we must make sure we take care of the natural environment and resource on which our economic activity depends”  says: Gordon Brown – Chancellor of the Exchequer (March, 2005).

The quest for our survival and that of our natural world for future generation is growing day by day. From Europe to Africa, Asia to America and to Oceania, nations and multinationals companies are working hand in hand to promote the three pillars of sustainability identified in 2005 World Summit of Social Development. Whilst it is true that sustainability looks to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health driving innovation and not compromising our ways of life. But I find this not compatible with the political ideology that drives the society we live in, the system in which few people at the expense of the others as ”capitalism” particularly in the developing and ever emerging economy like Nigeria and other African countries, Capitalism is a political ideology where minority hold most of and reward themselves with socio and political power. I agree in theory that capitalism is a sustainable economic system as long as there are consumers in a free market economy. But in practice in my opinion it leads to out sourcing for cheap labour, people being laid off and the natural environment, the ”commons” being exploited at the expense of generations to come. What I don’t know is how possible to run a capitalism economy while keeping its impact within a safe economy and ecological boundaries. According to Marx” capitalism transgressed the  boundaries of sustainability.” Marx stated further that a society geared toward sustainability will never be compatible with capitalism system,

In Nigeria 90% of her economy depends largely on oil thus achieving sustainable economy Now this is my argument with capitalist economy and social development and safe ecological boundaries without compromising quality of life is a mirage. For instance oil exploration by multinationals in Nigeria breached the three core ideas of sustainable development  in World Summit on social development in 2005. In pursuit of profit at all cost, the multinationals have breached several socio economic and ecological boundaries in relation to employment, human right, access basic resources, climate change, biodiversity loss and nutrient enrichment. Now his is my argument with a capitalist economic system that has enriched few in the society, create division and inequality and in turn create social and ethnic tension. It is possible for Nigeria and other developing nations in Sub- Sahara Africa  to continue to run a capitalist economy system that enrich few, that threatens their ecosystem and future generations, Marx  viewed capitalism as the most revolutionary economic system in history. But argued that the system is radically unstable; sudden ruin can happen at any time. A century and half later his prophesy was right, we found ourselves in the world he anticipated where minority has accumulated vast wealth and no one can predict what will happen or the value of anything now or in the future. Now there is a change in the way we live our life and people are struggling to cope. For the past three years we are in the state of perpetual unrest, global financial crisis that  threatens the  global economy. Marx writes in Communist Manifesto that “Everything that is solid melts in to air” to depict the end of capitalism and the introduction of communism system. I disagree slightly with Marx on this, I understand the principle  of capital being productive, and that it ceases as such only where the development of these productive forces themselves encounter its barrier in capital itself (Marx, The Grundrisse, 1845). But for more than a century, capitalism never faced off our systems despite hide and seek games played by all actors all over the world.

The question is how do we avoid capitalism structures and still achieve sustainable economy development, social development and ecological protection in our world especially Sub-Sahara Africa. The current issue of transnational partnership in global development can only work if the capitalistic motive is not allowed to play its role.

Jo Freeman in ‘Tyranny of Structurelessness’ writes that rejecting governance structure or leadership roles leads to lack of accountability and deep conflict. According to Freeman, ‘there is no such thing as structure-less group’. Then, what is the way out of capitalism (for the sole purpose of profits) structure that is not working properly? Sustainability can only begin when we cultivate the culture to value the future of people and environment over the excessive pursuit of wealth by multinational in order to have a sustainable society. Maybe , it can only be effective, if morally strong governments that are ready to challenge multinationals and back up regulations with actions are put in place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cattle Grazing Becomes Problematic in Nigeria (Tragedy of the Commons)

November 30, 2016

The total land mass of the inhabited world is about 30% while the rest is water. It is on this piece of land that mankind live, grow and develop. We share together a pool of common natural resources like water, land, clean air, sea and ocean; and other environmental elements that human kind relate with.

With human population of over 7 billion, there is an increasing strain on the ‘commons’ and this endangers sustainability. In Nigeria, for the past two decades, there had been conflicts between the Fulanis herdsmen who are from the Northern part of Nigeria and the farming communities in the Southern Nigeria. This conflicts have claimed thousands of lives according to Global Terrorism Index. The Fulanis spend most of their life times in the busy following forage and waterways

The effect of Climate Change on grazing lands coupled with increase in numbers of cattle owned by the Fulanis over many years and human population have pushed the herdsmen  further South in search of grazing land. The disagreement between herders and Southern farmers frequently happen over the use of natural common resources such as water, farmland and grazing areas. The farmers always complained about the activities of the herders, damaging their crops, polluting the water and letting loose their  herd of cattle which threaten their lives in their own land. the Fulani herders usually carry weapons like guns, matches, knives, bow and arrows, swords and so on, to protect themselves, and they are very mindful of their livestock, they are ready to kill if the lives of their livestock are in danger.

Furthermore, increase in population in the South (Urbanisation) has left the farmers with a limited space to cultivate their crops. The typical climate of the Southern part of Nigeria is tropical with rain forest and green pastures in about nine (9) months of the year while the Northern part is arid, that is, desert with less than 26centimeters of rainfall in a year, the reason why irrigation system is commonly used in the Northern Nigeria for farming. More people settle in the South which makes it densely populated. As farming has become a major occupation of many in Nigeria, both small and large scales make land space more competitive in terms of usage. Hence, Southern Nigeria witness more social development than the North.

The carrying capacity of the available land has now reduced in the South, creating a tension between the Fulani herdsmen from the North and the farming communities in the South. The clash usually result in loss of lives in thousands and destruction of properties and valuables at a time, and this may continue in different areas in a period of time. The major concern is about security of lives and properties, this makes the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari who is also a Fulani to detail the Armed Forces to be on guard 24/7 but he has not come up with any tangible solution, neither for the sustainability of the commons nor the conflict. The question is ‘how can we govern and sustain the commons?’ for the future generations and defeat the myth that “private property is the only means of protecting finite resources from ruin and depletion” (Walljasper, 2013).

Education as a commons: Schooling for children in a developing country

November 30, 2016

It is everyone’s obligation to get these children educated in a better and conducive environment, they are the future of this world where-ever they find themselves. Help in anyway constitute a joint effort especially to make the world a better place for everyone to live. In developing countries, education at least suppose to be free at all levels but opposite is the case, parents have to struggle to educate their children by all means. In the 60s when white collar jobs were becoming popular, parents – usually peasant farmers, fishermen, market women, bricklayers, labourers and so on were encouraged by propaganda to educate their children for a better future. Between 60s and the present in developing countries, education has been commodified because of the infiltration of private schools, whose fees are unaffordable for an average low or middle class parents. This current paradigmatic shift creates a false competition of enclosure to our educational system and robbed the children of their rights to be educated. It was discovered recently by an independent research organisation that only 10% of Nigerian private schools were confident of good grades in the qualifying examinations.

What is education?

According to Google online, it is ‘the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university’ this could be interpreted as enlightening, pedagogy, teaching, training and, so on.

Mark Smith on infed, defined education for a starter as ‘a wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning undertaken in the belief that all should have the chance to share in life’ but in the real sense, it a process and an outcome.

How Do We Comfort Others

November 3, 2016

Development agencies exist to encourage and to direct the most basic human strong wish to care for our neighbours in need. God intended that Jesus have a key role in providing comfort. He was assigned to bind up the brokenhearted and comfort all who mourn. Development aid is part of an international social safety net which reflects not only the global ethical responsibilities of the rich to the poor, but also the claim of the poor upon the rich as members of the same global community. Our neighbour can be of any religious faith, that is, Christian, Muslim, Traditionalists, and so on. God is a God of all comfort and comfort us in all our trials (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Gustavo Gutierrez  (1999, p.25) writes ‘The poor person is someone brimming over with capacities and possibilities, whose culture has its own values derived from racial background, history and language…and despite the way they have been affected by circumstances, resist all attempt to mutilate or manipulate their hopes and future. When we have hope, there is future and a better life, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). Therefore, let us love, care and comfort one another.