By James Okuk, PhD. NOV/03/2015, SSN;
If the recurrent fuel shortages in Juba and other parts of the Republic of South Sudan has been accepted as ‘The New Normal’ for NilePet, I should think it is high time to tell the government top leadership in the country that this is a very dangerous toleration for the survival of the SPLM-J regime itself. Why?
Because it cripples the core of the engine of urban life: its mobility, its connectivity, its power-lightening, its bread, its water and good mood of the people. Without fuel in Juba, it will be semi-impossible to get firewood or charcoal for bread. It will be very far to fetch water for homes.
That is why the highly urbanized countries like China and Korea will immediately charge up to treason penalty those who attempt to temper with this central strategic commodity. Life will be like that of Hobesian state of nature: ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.’ But it seems some people are very lucky to get away freely after messing up foolishly with this strategic commodity because this is South Sudan, any way.
Let’s not forget lessons of history of humankind. The French People’s Revolution (1789) was known as the ‘Bread Revolution’. Miguel de Cervantes gives bread an emotional weight writing in Don Quixote “With bread, all sorrows are less”.
We also got the gist of the well-known or infamous Marie Antoinette’s famous but apocryphal response—“Let them eat cake”—when she was told that the peasants had no bread to buy in the city because of shortage of the strategic commodity that puts the bread on tables.
Further, the French bloody Revolution was fueled by the bankruptcy of the State as costs of government increased from fighting two major wars: the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolutionary War. The debts led to the long-running financial crisis (debts rising from 8 billion to 12 billion livres) exacerbated by extravagant expenditures on luxuries by King Louis XV. The taxation system was burdensome upon the middle class and the more prosperous peasants, given that the nobles and the well-connected were largely able to exempt themselves from it.
Now, instead of bringing down President Kiir by making him look bad in the eyes of the citizens, the NilePet’s Management should play honestly and respect the mission for which it was established in 2003 under the Civil Authority for New Sudan (CANS) to link oil companies with CANS, the then civil government in the liberated areas of Southern Sudan.
NilePet was incorporated on the 1st day of June 2009 under the New Sudan Companies Act 2003 by the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development so that it could operate as the technical, operational and commercial arm of the Ministry of Petroleum & Mining in order to maximize oil profits for the government rather than individuals. Nilepet is supposed to aim at exploring, developing, producing, adding value and managing oil and gas resources in an efficient and sustainable manner for the sake of common benefit of the people of South Sudan.
The CEO Joseph Cleto Deng who used to be the office manager of President Kiir seems to be operating in defiant to these objectives. His predecessor Engineer Paul Adong tried in the past to deviate from the NilePet expressed objectives but this caused him dearly his lucrative job. I am afraid if this situation of fuel shortages continues repeating itself unabated, Mr. Joseph Cleto may also be shown an exit door soon so that President Kiir could save his face from public outrage.
According to Roger McNamee who coined the term “The New Normal”, it is supposed to be a time of substantial opportunities with willingness to play by the new rules but by doing things right rather than succumbing to the tyranny of urgency for maximum wealth accumulation.
Our President Salva Kiir Mayardit should be whispered to that what NilePet is trying to do is a very dangerous “New Normal”. It betrays the “social contract” and its sole justification of obeying the government so as to avoid falling back into the state of nature after having transcended it into the state of civility.
The state of nature is something we ought to avoid, at any cost except our own self-preservation. Let peace be allowed to come back to the new country on earth. Let’s implement the ARCISS in letter and spirit and we shall never fall back to be disintegrated by the deplorable state of nature.
Dr. James Okuk is a lecturer of politics. He is reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org