How did Nigeria get rich??


Contrary to popular belief that Nigeria became rich after the discovery of oil, Nigeria has always been a rich country. Prior to the discovery of oil, Nigeria (like many other African countries) strongly relied on agricultural exports to supply its economy. Nigerians were largely agricultural people. Nigeria was once sufficient without crude oil and was a giant in the mining, agricultural, and fishing sectors. Nigeria produced a variety of commodities that were exported overseas.

The Nigerian economy was robust before the exploration of crude oil. Nigeria’s major foreign exchange earnings came through the exportation of cash crops such as rubber from Delta State in the south-south region; groundnut, hide, and skin produced by the northern region; cocoa and coffee from the western region; and palm oil and kernels from the eastern region of the country.

Even more appreciable were the exploits attained by Luis Ojukwu to become the first billionaire in Africa even before the crude oil boom, making his money in areas that are considered irrelevant in Nigeria today.

The discovery of crude oil in Nigeria is a mixed blessing. It came with economic growth and infrastructural development. Oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1956, with production starting in the late 1950s. In the following decade, oil exploration was open to foreign companies and by then, with some exceptions due to economic circumstances, the oil industry grew constantly to become a global giant.

With 18 operating pipelines and an average daily production of some 1.8 million barrels in 2020, Nigeria is the eleventh largest oil producer worldwide. The petroleum industry accounts for about nine per cent of Nigeria’s GDP and for almost 90 per cent of all export value.

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