Nigerian Oil: A Blessing or Curse?

Nigeria OilNigeria president Muhammadu Buhari. Photographer: Pius Utomi Ekopei/AFP/Getty Images

The Nigerian economic crisis is getting deeper and there seems to be no succinct plans in sight to curb the continuous degradation of the economy. Nigeria is one of the largest crude oil producing nations and 90 percent of its foreign exchange earnings are generated from crude oil sales.

In June 2008, crude oil peaked at $147.42 a barrel, the highest in the history of the world. Nigerian foreign reserve likewise grew from $45 billion to $63 billion in September 2008 before the global economic situation hit the embattled nation in November 2008, when oil price dropped to $32.40 a barrel.

The problems of Nigeria’s economy was further compounded when U.S oil production increased, and therefore stopped importation from Nigeria in 2014. In December 2014, India (who had replaced the U.S) also reduced its importation by 38 percent to 5.3 million barrels — from 13.7 million in October and 12.4 million in November. China did not import a single barrel for the said month after initially reducing its importation by 50.3 percent.

There were several effects on the economy of Nigeria (home to over 170 million people) for two reasons: firstly, Nigeria only had contractual agreements with a few countries and as such sell on “spot”, two, the country overly depends on crude oil to finance capital expenditures and with crude oil price currently $48.08 a barrel from last year’s peak of $107.64 on June 13th.  The question is how would Nigeria avert her economy rout with falling oil price?

Since the drop in oil price globally, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has adjusted its exchange rate five times, even after the introduction of tight forex controls in February; the latest was on Thursday July 23rd, ahead of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting. The currency exchange rate is presently 197 to the United States dollar and CBN promised it would be sold to customers through interbank at 198. It’s a different story at the parallel market where Naira is 244 to a U.S dollar.

Nigeria real

Data partly gotten from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Economic Review and Outlook Report.

In the past months, over 20 states has reportedly  failed to pay their worker’s salary, a situation termed a disgrace by the president Muhammadu Buhari who was forced to devise a bailout of $3.4 billion to offset the deficit of the affected states — in an effort to curtail further civil actions from civil servants.

The Nigeria GDP rose to $594.3 billion for the first time in 2014 and became the biggest economy in the whole of Africa.  According to report from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the service sector contributed the most, 42.6 percent to the total GDP, while industry was 25.6 percent, agriculture and oil sectors made up 20.6 and 11.2 percent respectively. The report shows that service is the fastest growing sector followed by industrial sector. The agricultural sector growth rate has been hindered by lack of finance and limited skilled labour — many preferring to work in the lucrative oil sector of the country.

The economy has been impeded by lack of a diversification strategy that could leverage its vast resources and man-power for growth. Excessive focus on crude oil has created a one way foreign revenue channel, that any slight fluctuation in global oil price (beyond Nigeria’s control) impacts the entire nation. It is obvious that Nigeria cannot continue to depend on oil for growth. The NBS report has shown that oil growth was only 6.3 percent and contributed only 11.2 percent to the entire GDP —the lowest among the sectors. The truth is Nigeria is currently surviving on sectors with less focused attention, but one wonder why due diligence is not done to elevate those sectors in order to create a permanent solution to oil’s unpredictable nature?


About the Author

Samed Olukoya
Samed Olukoya is the CEO/Founder of, a digital business media, with over 10 years experience as a foreign exchange research analyst and trader.

6 Comments on "Nigerian Oil: A Blessing or Curse?"

  1. Agriculture is the next big thing.

    • Investors King | July 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Reply

      That is the truth but how do government make it lucrative enough for the youth, or make provision for loan to support the few farmers struggling to feed us. Its a long process but a good alternative to crude oil frustration every time global prices drop.

  2. Impressive !
    But with corruption Oil is clearly a curse and without corruption a big big big blessing

    • Investors King | July 27, 2015 at 4:51 am | Reply

      That is so true, it is just so sad how a big blessing as you said can be a curse because of few bad eggs.

  3. Okpara Anthony | July 29, 2015 at 4:30 am | Reply

    Firstly the oil sector need to survive for alternative use on agriculture or else the major produce crumble down .

    • Investors King | July 29, 2015 at 11:32 am | Reply

      That is so true, we need stable alternative revenue sectors. Not the unpredictable oil, its a blessing and also curse because of shifted attention.

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