The mystery of the Nigerian oil paradox is still a surprise to many in the international community. There is a recent saying that Nigeria is the only country in the world, which imports what she has and exports what she doesn’t have. Nigeria today is the world’s 6 th largest producer of crude oil and the 2nd largest supplier to the United States of America . Yet, the price of petrol, diesel and other petroleum products continue to rise.
The wealth associated with oil export continues to elude majority of the citizens. While electricity supply is dwindling drastically, infrastructure is breaking down at a fast pace, even when they are been replaced. Yet, the country continues to reap more profit from the export of crude oil, which is getting more expensive increasingly in the international market because of enormous demands from expanding economies like China and India . As demand for oil grows in the West and reserves dwindle in Europe and the United States , energy companies have gone further afield, looking for oil in developing countries and increasingly under thousands of metres of ocean.
They are often welcomed warmly as poor countries like Nigeria lack the capital and technology to develop their own resources. In Nigeria , the energy crisis continues to worsen despite government efforts at renovating the country’s power generating plants. Most of the power generating plants in the country are thermal gas stations which run on natural gas, a by-product of petroleum, which the country has in large quantities. Recently, Nigeria ‘s power generation has reduced from the meager 3,000 megawatts to a worse and alarming 2500 megawatts.
Now, Lagos receives 450 megawatts as against 800 megawatts last year. These figures portend grievous implications to infrastructural development and social well being. Yet, Nigeria still supplies electricity to Togo , Benin republic, and Ghana . In Nigeria , per capita income of $270 a year is lower than when oil was found in the 1950s. Since 1999, Nigeria has been trying to recover up to $3 billion that disappeared during the four-and-a-half year rule of former president Sani Abacha.
Bloody clashes erupt frequently near the oilfields in the Niger delta as tribes fight over scarce revenue and jobs. Of the three major refineries in the country, none can be said to be functioning at optimum capacity. This means that the major percentage of petroleum products, sold in Nigeria are refined outside the country. Many people wonder why a country rich in natural resources could still be this poor.