Nigerian Economy

Figure 1.-- Nigeria is a major oil exporter and the oil earmings are enormous. The focus on oil, however, has damaged the overall ecomomy. The neglect of the agricultural sector and light manufacturing, however, has created widespread poverty. The resulting rural poverty has caused a massive migration to the cities which do not have the infractructure and social services to handle the numbers of people involved. A reader tells us about this boy. "This Lagos boy is a street urchin. He was a very friendly little guy. He waited on our street corner every Friday afternoon for a bit of pocket money."

African countries in particular have not been able to develop vibrant economies. Some countries like Nigeria have oil income to help finance ecomomic development, but seem to have made only limited real progress. Nigeria in the 1970s became a major oil exporter. Oil as in many countries, however, has proven to be a mixed blessing in economic terms. The oil boom of the 1970s caused the Nigerian Government to neglect its agricultural sector which had been the cornerstone of the economy. Light manufacturing was also neglected. The country soon became heavily dependent on oil exports. The fall of oil prices in the l980s drastically affected Nigeria. There are no Nigerian manufacturing industries of any importance. Oil and gas exports accounted for more than 98 percent of export earnings and about 83 percent of the federal government's revenue (2002). The country has not used the oil income to diversify and modernize the economy. In fact, Nigerian has tended to increasing quantities of foreign food and manufactured goods rather than produce them donestically. This might be understood in the early days when Nigeria first began exporting oil, but there have been 40 years of substantial oil exports and there has been no development of important infustrial production or meeded modrnization of the agricultural sector. Percapita income is relatively high, but only because of high incomes from a small number of individuals involved in the oil industry or governmen officials and the military able to obtain a share of the income often through corrupt practices. Corruption is a major problem in Nigeria. There were enormous opportunities for graft and theft of state funds and a political legal system totally encapable of dealing with it. Incomes in the 2000s declined below pre-independence levels, although per capita income is highly variable depending on oil prices. The decline of the agricultural sector has caused a massive migration to the cities, creating enormous social problems and widespread poverty as well as a collapse of basic infrastructure and social services. Further probelms have been created by governments which have pursued policies involving a statist economic model. There has been a huge growth of the "informal" sector which now dominates the non-oil economy. A reader writes, "I lived in Nigeria for 3 years, 1996-99. I tutored a little boy with special needs. It was the only country I have lived in where there was a severe gas shortage. Kids sold it by the litre bottle on street corners. We did not travel far at the weekend because of this difficulty. All that oil and Nigeria had none for itself! The local populace is angry too about the exploitation and it is the cause for oil workers to be kidnapped from time to time. I walked from my apartment to the restaurant on a Friday night. That was considered very risky. My steward would advise me when it was not a particulary good idea. I then went by car."


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Created: 10:26 AM 11/22/2009
Last updated: 10:31 PM 11/25/2009