Oil Boom in Nigeria: What are the Socio-Economic Implications for Society from 1999-2014?

Chapter 1: Introduction

Nigeria is one of the leading oil producing countries in the world. Nigeria’s economy was largely characterised by agricultural production alongside other consumer goods up to the 1980’s, when oil wealth took over the majority of the country’s economy. For more than three decades, Nigeria has exploited her oil resources for export. The emergence of oil as Nigeria’s main source of revenue has generated a number of questions regarding the significance of the oil wealth to the socio-economic development of Nigeria society. It has been commonly assumed that Nigeria’s large oil deposits would spur socio-economic growth and put the country among the world’s elite nations in terms of economic growth and social prosperity (Ian and Terry, 2003).
Since independence from Great Britain in 1960, Nigerians have experienced a number of problems ranging from ethno-religious and sectarian conflicts to corruption. According to Gboyega (1996) the post-independent Nigeria is one that has bore the brunt of leadership-induced poverty instigated by corruption scandals, religious charlatanism, war, restiveness, political instability, series of dictatorial regimes, and failure to build basic amenities among other issues. Ironically, these challenges have intensified during the period when Nigeria experienced what is commonly referred to as the ‘oil boom’ (Gboyega, 1996, p.39). Julius-Adeoye (2010) believes that Nigeria’s severe socio-economic crisis started immediately after independence, when the country’s leaders plundered the nation’s resources with massive corruption allegations at the expense of citizens’ wellbeing; excuses that military generals used to mount coups from the civilian rulers.

Whilst it was expected that the beginning of Nigeria’s democratically elected government in 1999 under the leadership of President Olesegun Obasanjo would see sudden change of fortunes for Nigerians, the country has not realised much progress in terms of social progress despite the much hyped economic growth (Salawu, 2010). Data indicate that Nigeria’s oil revenue hit US$ 300 billion in the last two decades alone (Balouga, 2009). But it is the rise in revenue (over USD$112 billion between 2004 and 2007 alone) during Obasanjo’s reign that has raised questions about the country’s priorities and socio-economic development plans.
One question one would ask is; where did Nigeria got it wrong in terms of socio-economic developmentTo answer this question, there is need to understand how defining regimes of General Ibrahim Babangida and later Olesegun Obasanjo have contributed to the socio-economic slump of the resource-rich Nigeria.

1.1 Aim and Objectives

This study aims to establish the implication of two leaders of Nigeria, General Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993) and President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) on Nigeria’s oil and gas resource management and the socio-economic impact with General Babangida setting the pace in the years of misrule and mismanagement of national resources, he set a precedent that would later haunt the economic and social fabric of Nigeria and its people for later years. Sadly, the trend of inequality did not seem to end with military rule but extended with the civilian rule of the democratically elected government (Odebode, 2004).

Research objectives

To establish the role of General Babangida’s regime on the oil resource management and socio-economic development of Nigeria
To identify the implication of President Obasanjo’s reign as a democratically elected leader on the oil resource management and socio-economic development of Nigeria
To identify ways in which leadership can be used to balance Nigeria’s socio-economic development and improve oil resource management

1.2 Research Questions

What is the significance of Babangida and Obasanjo’s regimes in the socio-economic development of Nigeria?
What is the significance of oil wealth to the socio-economic development of Nigeria’s socio-economic development?
What implications do the oil resources have on the local communities’ social integration and economic wellbeing?
To what extent has the reigns of these leaders captured in the literature about Nigeria’s developmental agenda?
Chapter 2: Literature Review
There is a significant body of literature on Nigeria’s development framework. It has been described as having components of corruption, consumerism, failed socio-economic and political policies, and many other issues (Balouga, 2009; Odebode, 2004; Ian and Terry, 2003).Odebode (2004) observes that Nigeria’s socio-economic climate in the past four decades has neither promoted any kind of social and economic welfare that can insulate families from harsh market realities nor help them “benefit from market developments” (Odebode, 2004, p.12). This is despite massive revenue from oil production. Corruption has been at the core of Nigeria’s political and social developments independence, saddling between military and civilian regimes, which have regrettably institutionalised corruption in almost all government agencies.
When General Ibrahim Babangida toppled General Muhammadu Buhari’s regime of less than two years in a bloodless in-house coup on 27th August 1985, the country saw thirteen years of corruption in Nigeria. It is generally agreed that during General Babangida’sregime corruption not only reached alarming high level rate but also became instutionalised. For instance, leaders who were found guilty by tribunals in the previous regimes of Murtala Mohammed and Mohammadu Buharu would later find their way back into the public life; recovering their seized properties allegedly acquired through corrupt means. Maduagwu (cited in Gboyega, 1996, p.5) observes that that not only did Babangida regime entrench corruption when he pardoned corrupt government officials convicted in the previous regimes and allowed them to reclaim their seized properties, but also “officially sanctioned corruption in the country, making it difficult to apply the only potent measures, long prison terms and seizure of illegally acquired wealth” for fighting corruption in Nigeria in the future. The successive regimes after Babangida did little to stop corruption (Balouga, 2009). General Sani Abacha in just less than 4 months had ousted the interim government furthering the corruption menace and stagnating the socio-economic growth. The Abacha regime saw corruption reached its peak with plunder of national resources. The International Centre for Asset Recovery (2009) estimated that the Abacha family alone took up to US$ 4 billion from the public coffers.
Salawu (2010) observes that the country’s populace is still marred with abject poverty, to the extent that it is not only being categorised amongst the world’s poorest nations but also graces the world’s most unequal countries list. Studies have estimated that about 70 percent of Nigeria’s population lives below poverty line, largely due to inequitable distribution of the national resources such as oil revenue limited access to basic amenities and social services such as healthcare (Salawu, 2010).

Chapter 3: Research methodology and design

The researcher proposes to use qualitative research method to increase the understanding of the attitudes, motivation and other non-numerical information. The study will seek to investigate these phenomena using structured and semi-structured questionnaires, interviews and observation. According to Panneerselvam (2004), qualitative approach to research is the most appropriate research method when studying issues that require in-depth understanding of issues. Panneerselvam (2004) advises that researchers intending to study societal issues such as corruption and governance should immerse themselves into the culture of the society and experience what is in the system. Qualitative research allows the researcher to practice the needed flexibility, thus the ability to amend the emerging sub-questions as they become more familiar with the people, culture and system construct (Panneerselvam, 2004, p.158).
Qualitative research methods help researchers to collect non-numerical responses from respondents using less-structured research instruments such as interviews, observation and ethnography. Ethnography uses fieldwork to provide a descriptive study of human society and presents the results as an organized whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is founded on the principle that a system’s individual properties cannot always be accurately understood independent of each other. Qualitative research is thus based on relatively small sample sizes and may evoke inherent challenges when larger sample sizes are needed.

In-depth Case study

This research will also adopt a case study as a research methodology. The case studies will focus on General Babangida’s regime and Obasanjo’s reign and draw any comparison and similarities in terms of socio-economic development.
Case study as a research method is popular due to its ability to draw inspiration from the empirical curiosity and practicality (Stake, 1998). Although the researcher maybe interested in a wider question of socio-economic development of Nigeria, the case study will allow the researcher to specifically focus on issues of oil resource management, corruption, and leadership ideals. Case study is an important research method because it is able to combine other research strategies, hence the reason why it is often referred to as a meta-method (Stake, 1998). Gillham (2001) argues that a case study should not be viewed as more important than other research methodologies but should be seen as more suited for practice-oriented fields. That is, the ability of the researcher to act within a professional practice is dependent on the knowledge of a repertoire of cases.

3.1 Scope of the study

This research will focus on oil resource management and its impact on socio-economic development in Nigeria. The focus will draw similarities and contrast between General Babangida’s regime (1985-1993) and Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007).


Balouga, J. (2009). The Niger Delta: Defusing the Time Bomb. International Association for Energy Economies 1 (3), 8-11.
Gboyega, A. (1996). Corruption and Democratization in Nigeria. Ibadan: Agba Areo Publishers.
International Centre for Asset Recovery. (2009, September). Sani Abacha. Retrieved on 25 August, 2014 from http://www.assetrecovery.org/
Gillham, B. (2001). Case Study Research Methods. London, New York: Continuum.
Ian, G. and Terry, L. (2003). Bottom of the Barrel: Africa’s Oil Boom and the Poor. Stanford: Catholic Relief Services.
Julius-Adeoye, R.J. Nigerian Playwrights and Official Corruption: a study of selected plays. In Oshionebo, B.,Mbachaga, J.D., eds. (2010). Literary Perspectives on Corruption in Africa 1. Markudi: Bookmakers, 2 (1), 5-17.
Odebode, S. (2004). Husbands are Crowns: Livelihood Pathways of Low-Income Urban Yoruba Wwomen in Ibadan, Nigeria. The Hague: ISS, 11-12.
Panneerselvam, R. (2004). Research Methodology. NY: PHI Learning Pvt.
Salawu, B. (2010). Ethno-Religious Conflicts in Nigeria: Causal Analysis and Proposals for New Management Strategies. European Journal of Social Sciences 13(3), 345-353.
Stake, R. (1998). “Case Studies” in: Norman Denzin & Yvonna Lincoln. (eds.): Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, London, New Delhi: Sage.

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