The Irony of Oil
Particularly peculiar to oil-rich nations is the irony of the situation in which such countries find themselves. Despite enormous riches that accrue from oil year in-year out such countries still remain relatively poor. Nigeria has caught cheaply the Dutch Disease that is commonplace amongst oil-rich nations (The Dutch Disease is a global acronym for nations whose rich natural resource endowment paralyze their production potentials turning them paradoxically to poor underdeveloped nations because they lost the motivation, discipline and capacity for self-development, self reliance and sustainable growth). Despite our oil riches, over 64% of our people live below the internationally recognized poverty line of $1.25 per day. Our saddening condition can be largely attributed to the corrupt nature of the Nigerian society; corrupt officials within the Nigerian society can't seem to let the oil money do what it ought to do (such as: build schools and health care facilities, repair roads, provide job opportunities e.t.c.) Rather they continue to ship these riches in large quantities for their personal gain. As observed in The New York Times in its edition of 1st August 2000: "if oil revenue is managed well, it can educate, heal and provide jobs for the people. But oil brings risks as well as benefits. Rarely have developing countries used oil money to improve the lives of the majority of citizens or bring steady economic growth. More often oil revenues have caused crippling economic distortions and been spent on showy projects, weapons and Paris shopping trips for government officials”. As aptly put by Bishop David Oyedepo: "With such enormous resources (obtained from our oil reserves) we had all the opportunity to develop our infrastructures but our leaders chose rather to sell the future of an entire nation to selfishness on the altar of corruption"
More pitiful is the situation in which the oil producing regions in Nigeria find themselves, they more than anyone else have suffered the most at the hands of a resource which ought to be a blessing. And "As people and transnational oil corporations have been fighting over this "dark nectar" in the delta region, immense poverty and environmental destruction have resulted"...the Niger Delta people have been robbed and have been left standing out naked in the cold. One would ordinarily expect that the Niger Delta region would be the foremost beneficiaries of the riches accruing from oil but this has not been the case as the region is being plunged deeper and deeper into a state of despair and hopelessness as their oil-attached dreams and hopes are being crushed year after year. Quoting the BBC news article: "The day oil was first discovered in Nigeria" in which they interviewed Chief Sunday Inegite who had this to say as regards the excitement the day oil was discovered in Oloibiri: "They made us be happy and clap like fools, dance as if we were trained monkeys". However, today nobody is dancing....and with all such frustration, no wonder the Niger Delta youths took up arms.