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Oil and Niger Delta: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Nigeria started commercial production of oil and gas in Oloibiri in present day Bayelsa state in 1958. Since then, oil has been exploited across the Niger Delta. For over fifty years oil and gas exploration and production has generated great wealth for the nation as a whole. Agriculture which used to be the main stay of the economy has been pushed to the background. Oil and gas alone have generated 40 percent of Nigeria’s GDP over recent decades. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the oil sector accounts for 95 percent of export earnings and about 65 percent of government revenues. Looking at 50 years from now, opinions are divided on the fortunes of Nigeria when (and if) the oil wells dry up or demand drops drastically. Some believe that it will be disastrous while others believe the oil curse will have been taken away and Nigeria will be better positioned to develop other sectors and restructure its polity. This paper reviews the development of oil and gas business in Nigeria, the post-oil scenarios and proffers recommendations to position Nigeria for growth and sustainable development.