By Erekose Peter
The road-map to a sustainable and accelerated Nigerian economy lies in the country’s ability to utilise the rich human and natural resources that abound in the country. With a fully utilised economy, Nigeria deserves to be among the league of developed countries in the world such as China, Japan, Britain and even the United States of America.
Nigeria occupies a very important position in Africa in particular, and in the world in general. Whatever affects Nigeria certainly affects the international community. Being among the top seven largest producers of crude oil in the world, and as the revered giant of Africa, Nigeria is indeed in the eyes of the storm.
Nigeria has got all it needs to be well developed; surplus human and natural resources, large production of both food and cash crops and subsequent exports of agricultural products, huge deposit of raw materials, technocrats, the world’s best swimmers in the riverine creeks, world’s athletes that train continuously on Nigeria roads hawking their wares and out-running fast-moving vehicles, Nigeria indeed has it all. Nigeria is a country on whom nature had smiled with arable land, temperate climate condition, fertile soil and abundant rainfall.
With the discovery of “black gold” in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, in 1956, a new phase was opened in the natural resources sector. Various natural resources abound in Nigeria such as limestone, granite, zinc, tin, clay, magnetite, kaolin, as well as deciduous grassland for animal rearing and farming, just to mention a few. In all these, the importance or viability of the Nigerian oil and gas sector cannot be over-emphasized. Oil and gas is the solid ground for the production of energy, it is the easiest and most available source of energy in Nigeria, and the most important source of energy without which civilisation ceases to exist. Crude oil keeps the wheels of industries running. Brent oil, also known as sweet light oil, is the best type of crude oil. It is the Nigerian type of oil and the cost of processing is cheaper than the other types of oil found in other countries. It also has a high demand worldwide.
But despite all these numerous blessings and excess reservoir of oil and gas, what is hindering Nigeria from being a world giant? According to recent world ranking, Nigeria ranks among the top 25 poorest nations in the world. With a huge deposit of crude oil, a product that is said to be the largest traded commodity and the most versatile in usage, why are the beneficial effects not substantive?
The issue of under-utilization of resources is one that needs to be tackled. Both human and natural resources are under-utilized, or how else would one explain a situation whereby the country has to export crude oil out of the country to be refined and import such refined products at a very exorbitant rate. Corruption is one monster that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the Nigerian economy. Corruption is visible in every field of human endeavour as nothing goes for nothing. Nigeria has got all it needs to boast of a very rich and self-sustaining economy, yet struggling simply because its resources are not fully utilized and wrongly used due to corruption. This is an obstacle militating against Nigeria’s development. A situation where thousands of engineers abound in the country, but projects are handled by foreign firms is quite ridiculous. Nigeria’s political evolution has suffered so many idiosyncrasies.
The oil and gas industry in Nigeria is very viable. Crude oil is a product that is important to almost everyone in the world. The oil and gas sector alone is enough to continuously sustain the Nigerian economy.
To this end, the Nigerian government, as well as oil and gas experts, should look inward and formulate laws to utilize the prospects and opportunities made available by the oil and gas sector. Nigeria’s various refineries should be up and running optimally. Gas flaring is a huge economic loss and an environmental degrading activity. Oil spillage, pipeline vandalism and crude oil sabotage that lead to economic losses should be curbed. Technocrats should be fully employed in this sector so that the oil and gas industry can be totally harnessed and utilised for the common good of the populace. Nigeria is indeed too rich to be poor, there are great prospects in the oil and gas industry.
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