Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
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Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Nigeria: Der "Fluch der Ressourcen"

Prof. Patrick Utomi, Lagos Business School-Pan African University (Nigeria), Leiter, David Ugolor, African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (Nigeria), Direktor, und Dr. Axel Harneit-Sievers, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Leiter des Länderbüros Lagos/Nigeria
Nachhaltige Entwicklung in Nigeria: Der "Fluch der Ressourcen" / Patrick Utomi, Lagos Business School-Pan African University (Nigeria), Leiter/David Ugolor, African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (Nigeria), Direktor/Axel Harneit-Sievers, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, Leiter des Länderbüros Lagos/Nigeria / Zusammenfassung | f.ize | Forum Internationale Zusammenarbeit für Nachhaltige Entwicklung

26.05.2004, 18:00 Uhr
GTZ-Haus Berlin, Reichpietschufer 20

The meeting was divided into two parts:

  • Part 1: Discussion of the resource curse,

  • Part 2: Discussion of possible solutions for the resource curse


f.ize (After a short introduction to the situation of the different stakeholders in Nigeria:) Would you each of you please position yourself?

David Ugolor I am from the South-South region of Nigeria that suffers from environmental damage caused by oil exploitation. The ordinary people can only benefit from the resource when the exploiting company engages in a dialogue with the community. Non-governmental organizations like provide space for the community to start such a dialogue.

Patrick Utomi I am an academic that finds himself working for Shell managers some of the time, but I am also active for non-governmental organizations. I am a proponent of fiscal federalism federalism and saving a significant part of Oil income in a Future for Patrimony reasons, absorptive capacity concerns, and stabilization needs. (In Nigeria, oil is only found in certain regions. Fiscal federalism in Nigeria refers to any mode of sharing proceeds from resources. Before the beginning of the “oil age” in the 1970s, the different regions (i.e. the federal units of the time) kept a large share of the (tax) income derived from their own territory (this is called the principle of “derivation”). Then, virtually all income was centrally distributed. It was only

with the political struggles in the oil areas, starting in the early 1990s, that the application of the “derivation” principle was strengthened, with 13% of all onshore and offshore income since 2004.

Axel Harneit-Sievers I am working for a relatively small donor organization, whose main role is to bring in debates (“civic education”). The conflict about oil is important, but it is not necessarily at the heart of the Nigerian problem. Only ten percent of the population lives in oil producing regions. The conflicts go far beyond those regions.

f.ize What is new about the problem?

Patrick Utomi The debate of a resource curse commenced after a study by the World Bank about the resource curse in 1995. The consequence of this research is that future economic growth is no longer projected on the basis of resources. The phenomenon called „resource curse“ is different from that of the „Dutch disease“ in the sense that it goes beyond the economic sphere - it includes institutional aspects. The Netherlands had strong institutions to venue large monetary flows generated from resource exploitation in a way to foster economic development. It experienced Dutch disease but was able to overcome it because of developed institutions. Therefore, the Netherlands ultimately overcame the Dutch disease. This is different in Nigeria: As a result of weak institutions the money was immediately absorbed by the few with access to power. The elite that profited from Oil built a consumption profile that was to create structural distortions in the economy. One example: The gains from oil lead to an explosion of consumption in Nigeria to the extent that, in 1979, Nigeria had the third biggest population of video players in the world.

Axel Harneit-Sievers There is a convergence of issues that is collected under the umbrella „resource curse“. The resource curse has the potential to integrate them and to provide an angle from which to address development in a country rich in natural resources but with poor economic development.

f.ize Is political stability a necessary condition to produce oil?

David Ugolor Oil money is often used to buy arms. People fight over the control of the resource. Nowadays, oil companies move offshore, that is away from conflict areas. Thus, more instability can result from oil production and companies can continue exploitation despite this increased instability.

f.ize How did the small oil producing regions in Nigeria influence the economy?

Axel Harneit-Sievers / Patrick Utomi When Nigeria exported only agricultural goods, it had an annual economic growth rate of about 3,5 percent. However, when it started to produce oil the economic growth rate fell to a mere 0,017 percent. These numbers tell much of the story. The boom of the oil industry lead the Nigerian economy to move away from agricultural to oil production. But oil is an enclave sector. Therefore, there is little work for people outside the oil producing regions in oil production.

f.ize What changed after the first elections after military dictatorship in 1999?

Axel Harneit-Sievers Many conflicts originate within the government that controls the oil. The ruling party is made up by „political entrepreneurs“. “Buying oneself” into a party, for example by “buying” a candidateship position in the most promising party, the governing PDP, can be considered a profitable investment. The Government controls the oil. This fuels violent conflict. Around 40 percent of the Gross National Product is contributed by the oil industry. But there is other economic potential in Nigeria: Primarily agriculture, then also industries (from agric processing to construction, even very interesting new service and entertainment sectors, such as a flourishing local film industry. The oil industry has very little interconnection with all these other sectors.

f.ize How did the oil exploitation change the Nigerian culture?

Patrick Utomi The process of institutional evolution in Nigeria was severely damaged by the military conflict. The military conflict introduced a „get your own piece of the cake“ kind of thinking. In the struggle over the distribution of oil revenues this way of thinking was further nurtured.

f.ize Why did Botswana manage to build institutions while Nigeria did not?

Patrick Utomi Botswana did well, because the central bank is well managed. Ironically, Nigerians were active as experts in the building of the early Botswana public service, including the Central Bank in Botswana. The tragedy in Nigeria grew out of the political situation.


f.ize Let us talk about possible solutions to the resource curse. How can good governance be enforced in a country rich in resources? What is the role of the international community?

David Ugolor Transparency is the main important issue: Recently the government started to publish the distribution of oil revenues to federal states. This way the public can keep an eye of the oil money – an important first step. Transparency is also important with regard to the monetary flows between oil companies and the government.

However, foreign debt should not be used to put pressure on the oil extracting company or the government.

f.ize How can an international corporation help to avoid a resource curse?

Patrick Utomi A transnational company’s role is to support values and value creation.

f.ize What is the role of civil society?

Axel Harneit-Sievers The role of civil society is to engage in a dialogue to replace violent conflict. But the power of such a dialogue is limited: There is already a lot of talking in Nigeria – many good arguments are exchanged. However, the problem is implementation. But maybe now there is a window of opportunity: The next democratic elections are in two years’ time, and the President’s “core economic team”, consisting of experienced technocrats, gives hope. This window should be used to implement measures to further increase transparency and a whole lot of other economic reform measures.

zusammengefasst von Michaela Krause

Für diese Veranstaltung verantwortlich:
Lili Fuhr und Bettina Müller

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