BUNYORO’S PROBLEM IN OIL AND GAS IS THE “AGENCY DILEMMA”
By Steven Birija
Having missed out at the stage of explorations, contract formulation and production and sharing agreement stages (PSA), the rest now is just cosmetic and tokenism.
This Problem of Oil & Gas, Land, forests, participation in national economy and politics, in Bunyoro, is not about actual and projected statistics of money coming in, or how much has been invested in the infrastructure, but our ability and power to make it happen in our interest. Is it possible, this is what we should be asking ourselves?
I see, the main problem has been tactical, strategic and deliberate exclusion of the people of Bunyoro from the center of the region’s economy, for now and for the future. We need to be well-informed, critical enough and with an eagle eye to see this clearly. Which for now seems not to be the case? We are just excited, and contented, to the benefit of the exploiter, and I am fully aware, this view can easily generate me a hell of insults here.
But, take it or not, in political economic theory and practice, our current dilemma is called, THE PRINCIPAL –AGENT PROBLEM.
The principal–agent problem, in political science, supply chain management and economics also known as the “agency dilemma or the agency problem”, which occurs when one person, a group of people or entity called, the “agent (s)” are able to make decisions and/or take actions on behalf of us (say Bunyoro community, as host communities), who are impacted by our resources, as an entity, or group called the “principal” owners.
These agents, for example government workers/institutions, oil companies, and their local collaborators will make sure the local community are cleverly obstructed, confused and blinded from the true knowledge and access to resources and supply chain.
You will find the principal agent problem at the centre of promoting useless Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) through fake NGOs, CBOs, SACCOs; tokenism in form of non-effective scholarships, courses like driving, welding, health and safety or even either block true education, and promoting controversial universities and courses like University of Earth and Science! Whatever it means, at the expense of true civic and business entrepreneurial and entrepreneurial awareness.
Having read this document, which comes too late, and will do little, I think we should be addressing the issue of intelligent Bunyoro communities, involved Bunyoro, with devolved powers capable of raising the central question of Natural Resource Governance (NRG), decision making and control of the people’s thought processes.
Therefore, principal-agent problem can be resolved by aligning the interests of both parties. As the agent that is currently working on behalf of the principal-Bunyoro communities local interests may have different incentives, it is important to bring these in line as much as possible. But, such issues will not be understood by oil companies training only mechanics, lorry drivers, Earth and Science University, formation of SACCOs, emyooga, health and safety assistants or sponsoring football clubs. You hear of high-sounding nothing sporadic statements like “Massive Oil and Gas Courses” emerge, uncoordinated and even unsolicited, just as it is said, beggars have no choice! This is not only absurd, but very dangerous, and irresponsible!.
Oil & Gas has deeply entrenched issues associated with economic rent, emergence of rentier class, who need rentier space in Bunyoro which can easily lead to the extinction of the people of Bunyoro. We need to build a GOOD SOCIETY through powerful schools and colleges, human resource and leadership development oriented Universities to create CIVIC & BUSINESS entrepreneurship, to bridge THE PRINCIPAL-AGENT problem. Stop simple minds leading us.
This is the biggest problem we should be addressing ourselves to as a THINK TANK! I pray, we take time to read between the lines without any ‘Traps of Labels’.
The writer is the former LCV Chairperson Masindi district
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Mr. Chairman we appreciate your opinions as always it’s been a wake up call to the people of Bunyoro and the government for the better of our oil and gas sector!
Together we can change the oil curse to blessings.