The hanging of Ben Murray-Bruce by Tony Ademiluyi
In the 19th century, the Luddites in England who were working in cotton mills destroyed the machines because they saw it as a great threat to their jobs. These workers who refused to upgrade their skills went on a massive offensive against the harmless jobs in their morbid fear of being redundant. In the end the machines triumphed as its time had truly come.
The common sense Senator Ben Murray-Bruce presented a bill on April 10 this year to phase out cars run on petrol in favour of electric cars by the year 2035.
It was thrown out during the first reading and never got the chance to make it to the second reading on the grounds that electric cars were impracticable for now and irrelevant.
Like the luddites in the days of yore, the members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly do not want to face the reality of the changing times. Oil the world over is fast becoming endangered specie. We are sitting on a keg of gun powder with our sole reliance on it as a revenue exchange earner. The demand for our oil is fast dropping — the United States recently cut its demand for it by 89%; India looked elsewhere for its oil needs. This should be a cause for grave concern by the policy makers which includes the senators.
Oil will become a non issue fifty years from now — a stark reality that our senators in the red chambers have failed to acknowledge or are ‘praying hard’ to avoid. Many countries in OPEC are swiftly moving away from oil dependence in order to keep up with the changing times. Saudi Arabia for instance recently established a fund in collaboration with Mckinsey to roll out modalities for the shifting of their economy from its sole dependence on oil to other non oil sectors. Norway has embraced the electric cars in their bid to move away from oil dependence.
Critics of Murray-Bruce’s bill contended that the erratic power supply would make nonsense of it. I beg to humbly disagree. The reality of the presence of electric cars will make the policy makers put on their thinking caps and hurriedly fix the ailing sector once and for all. Petrol stations will in future be replaced by electric charging spots which the government could tax and increase its revenue base.
What do you have to say of the fact that the Global Chief Executive Officer of the Royal Dutch Shell drives an electric car? Our politicians should hurriedly wake up and smell the coffee. 2035 which Murray-Bruce proposed is not far away as it’s less than two decades from now. Time flies by so quickly and it waits for no man sadly. How would we cope when we can no longer sell our oil? If over twenty states are insolvent and cannot meet their monthly obligations to their civil servants, how will it be fifty years from now when the global demand for our crude oil would have plummeted?
The curse of oil in the nation has seen lots of environmental degradations especially in the Niger Delta area of the country. Rivers are destroyed and the locals can no longer fish; farmers can no longer farm as the oil spillage rendered them economically incapacitated. The shift to electric cars will ensure a clean energy policy and a gargantuan reduction of air pollution. Global warming would be reduced and we will experience cleaner and fresher air to breath.
Nigerians are by nature rugged, dogged and enterprising. The shift to electric cars will bring out the entrepreneurial spirit in us and will make us stop the entitlement mentality that the curse of oil has plagued us with. Innoson for instance could take up the gauntlet and produce cars powered by electricity not only for domestic use but for export to the global market. Other manufacturers could take up the gauntlet and emerge as stiff competitors to Innoson which would drastically drive down the cost of these cars for the benefit of the man on the clapham omnibus and the hoi polloi.
Why should we wait for the dooms day to come before we do the needful? My attention was drawn to the presence of fueless generators which was developed by an unknown Nigerian. Imagine if this generator which doesn’t use petrol was in every home! It would save the huge costs being spent on fuel for generators. The policy makers only have to create the environment needed for these electric cars to thrive and the ripple effects would reverberate all through the economy.
We have an abundant supply of solar that could be used to aid the movement of these electric cars. This solar shouldn’t go to waste because of the lackadaisical attitude of our inept leaders.
It is a shame that close to six decades of political independence, power still remains a thorny issue. The reality of the dominance of electric cars in the future will make our power sector undergo a radical transformation. It will hasten our resolve to run a 24 hour lit economy.
Murray-Bruce was a visionary as he thought twenty years from today which put him on the pedestal of a statesman that thinks of the next generation and not merely the next election which is the distinguishing feature of run of the mill politicians. In a decent society, his contribution would have remained evergreen but alas we are in a nation fast heading to the status of a banana republic so what do you expect?
It is a shame that the common sense senator wouldn’t be returning to the Senate because of a zoning arrangement that shut him out from being in the incoming ninth senate. More progressive bills would have emanated from him which would have greatly moved this nation to the next level — not the one which is being touted by the ruling All Progressive Congress. It goes down to the issue of state identity in the country. Why shouldn’t Murray-Bruce who was born and bred in Lagos and pays his taxes here be a Senator from here? This is a story for another day which we may have to elicit some answers from the ‘great Jagaban.’
Public affairs pundits and analysts should continually drum the reality of the existence of a non oil powered economy with a pivotal role of electric cars. The policy makers must be forced to take bold steps to make us relevant so that we don’t end up playing catch up with disastrous consequences for the nation especially the generations yet unborn.
The time to act is now!
Ademiluyi writes from Lagos.