COMRADE TAIWO OTITOLAYE
The Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA)
Several researches attest to the fact that Nigeria has the second-largest amount of proved crude oil reserves in Africa, the eight largest among OPEC countries, and the 10th largest in the world. She also has the 8th largest gas reserves in the world. According to the (World Bank, 2019), Nigeria, with a population of about 203 million persons is the largest oil producer in Africa and is one of the world’s top five exporters of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Proved Reserves of Natural Gas in Nigeria was estimated to be 180 Trillion Cubic Feet (TCF) as at 2018
For over six decades, oil and gas has taken the centre state of Nigeria’s economy, relegating to the background agriculture which was the main stay under the Regional government of the 1963 Republican Constituted regions. As at today, the Nigeria’s population is estimated to be 203 million, with one of the largest economies in Africa. But this economy is still vastly reliant on crude oil. oil accounts for over 80% of foreign exchange earnings , and up to 66% of government revenue. However, it contributes less than 10% to Gross Domestic Products (GDP).
The Community Outreach for Development and Welfare Advocacy (CODWA) carried out a dissemination and sensitization campaign in Lagos and Kwara states; situating it within her transparency and accountability program in the extractive sector with diverse groups. These clusters included, professional associations, academia, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, CAGs, CDAs, political parties, labour centres, women groups, persons with disability, social movements, media, research institutions, government ministries, departments and agencies and student bodies. In all, over seventy organizations participated.
The top question of several decades that has become a recurring enigma is whether oil is a blessing or a curse to Nigeria?
To address this question, CODWA deduction was juxtaposition of several factors premised from the research report, the two interactive sessions held in Lagos and Ilorin and the quality of life in Nigeria. The researchers of the oil and gas and the quality of life in Nigeria highlighted some major manifestations compared with global indicators.
The baseline material for CODWA’s education, promotion and mobilization of key groups and the critical mass in Nigeria to support reforms and transformation in the sector is the result of a study done by two eminent scholars Professor Adeola Adenikinju of the department of Economics, and Centre for Petroleum, Energy and Economic Law of University of Ibadan and his counterpart; Professor Aderoju Oyefusi of the department of Economis, University of Benin..
The report opined that despite sixty years of oil exploration and production and massive inflow of rents occasioned by multiple periods of oil boom, Nigeria remains at the bottom in terms of development. Recent performance rankings place her among countries with low human development with HDI score that is lower than the averages for oil-exporting countries and Sub-Saharan Africa. In spite, of the huge revenues earned from oil exports, estimated at over USD1.5 trillion between 1960 and 2017, Nigeria is ranked the sixth most miserable country on the 2018 Hanke’s Misery Index, behind two other troubled and natural resource rich countries, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
According to the research report, specific exemplar resultant failures is comparing Nigeria’s global ranking in the table.
This unexplainable misery in the midst of huge revenue from oil and gas can be located in the massive stealing and looting in the sector. To illustrate, a report by the NNRC states that Nigeria lost about N3.8 trillion to oil theft in 2016 and 2017 and in comparison, the combined allocation for health and education in the two years was N189.4 billion. This translates to a mere 8.4% of the estimated value of losses from oil theft in the two years. Fuel subsidy is a know scam in the public domain in Nigeria. The daily loses is put at N2 billion daily.
While other major oil rich countries are diversifying, Nigeria is losing her earnings to official and unofficial theft. From the 2016 and 2017 example above, more looting continue under the President Muhammadu Buhari government. Even worrisome is that Nigeria continues to lag behind in energy transition while smaller African countries have joined the Energy transition global trend. She is still entangled in the euphoria of fossil fuels that is fast becoming obsolete and climate change risks.