The discovery of oil in Nigeria, first in Oloibiri, in the Niger-Delta, south-south region of the country in 1956 has re-shaped the destiny of the country.
Before this discovery, Nigeria’s economic survival largely depended on Agriculture chiefly cocoa from the western and groundnut from the northern part of the country. It is remarkable that at this time, Nigeria ranked second only to Ghana then known as the Gold coast in terms of production of cocoa. There was also the production of palm kernel from which palm oil is derived. In fact Nigeria produced more than a country like Malaysia which is far ahead of country (Nigeria) in terms of development.By 1960, when Nigeria got her independence from the British, political observers had begun to predict that a country with lots of potentials was beginning to emerge, most African countries then to look forward to Nigeria for political direction. Attention was now shifted from Kwame Nkrumah”s Ghana, a country with “Pan African” ideology. Nkrumah was using the huge resourses of Ghana to try to liberate other African countries from what he described as shackles of colonialism.
This situation later had negative impacts on the economy of Ghana. With the emergence of Yakubu Gowon of Nigeria as the next leader, Nigeria began to experience what the political leadership of Nigeria called “Oil Boom” It was not now making money that mattered for Nigeria but how to spend it for the country had so much money. With this development the leadership of Africa fell on Nigeria. The fall of Ghana’s economy became the rise of Nigeria economically but Gowon failed to hold firmly to what he had as not much was done in terms of industrialization of the country exactly what the British colonial administration failed to do in the first place.
The discovery of oil in Nigeria came with corruption, corruption with mismanagement, mismanagement with marginalization, marginalization with agitations. All of these led to the abandonment of the Agricultural sector as every single state in Nigeria became concerned with how to benefit from oil generated revenue whether an oil producing state or not. The consequence of this became heavy dependence on the importation of items ranging from fuel to frozen chickens and turkeys.
Agitations, abductions of white and even Nigerian oil workers in the Niger Delta set in. Thus oil which ordinarily ought to be a blessing to the citizens of any Nation transformed to crisis, hunger, fear of the unknown, refugees in one’s own country and other vices alike. Oil in Nigeria: a curse or blessing?