60 Years After Independence Nigeria’s Energy Industry Hasn’t Realized Its Promise — But It’s Getting Closer
On Oct. 1, 1960, everything seemed possible for Nigeria: After nearly 80 years of colonialism under Great Britain, it was finally an independent nation. During the newly independent nation’s earliest days, there was every reason for Nigerians to envision a bright future for themselves and their country, one in which Nigeria’s vast oil and gas reserves would deliver widespread prosperity. One of stability and growth.
Tragically, Nigeria’s story moved in a different direction. Yes, there was a brief period of economic growth, but that was followed by multiple coups, civil war, military rule, corruption, and poverty. Instead of helping everyday Nigerians, the country’s oil wealth went to an elite few in power while leaving communities, particularly those in the Niger Delta, to deal with environmental degradation and dwindling means of supporting themselves. Instead of using its oil revenue to strengthen other sectors and diversify the economy, Nigeria has made oil its primary source of government revenue. In recent decades, instability in the region has only worsened and contributed to the rise of terrorist groups like Boko Haram.
I still believe that 60 years of independence is an important milestone. We still have much to celebrate, including a future in which we can right the wrongs of our past. While getting Nigeria to the point where it can realize the full potential of its petroleum resources has been slow going, the country appears to be on the right track. As I write this, Nigeria’s long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) — intended to bring transparency and new life to the country’s oil and gas sector — is closer than ever to passage. Nigeria is working to monetize its natural gas resources, and we’re seeing great interest in the latest marginal field bidding round.
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