So there’s oil in Lagos. At last. After 25 years of hoping, the Yinka Folawiyo Group has found oil 24 kilometers off the shores of Lagos in the Dahomey basin. The hydrocarbon deposits were found in a field ranging between 100 – 1,000meters below sea level.
So first off, there will be no raids on crude oil facilities by aggrieved locals. But let us not get ahead of ourselves. What does the discovery mean in real terms? It means Lagos has joined the ranks of oil producing states. But what does this mean for the common Lagosian?
To answer that, let us look at what the common man in the other oil producing states ‘enjoy’.
A trip to Asaba the capital of Delta state a few years ago nearly brought tears to the eyes. It was an embarrassment to think that this small state was one of the largest oil revenue earners in the country. Bayelsa state is worse. In spite of being the home state of the former President of the country and also one of the major earners from oil proceeds, Bayelsa boasted of having ONE major road in Yenagoa the state capital.
Hopefully, there are more major roads now, but with the governor’s inability to pay salaries to public servants, life in Bayelsa is probably not much better than it was under the last 2 governors.
Akwa Ibom stands head and shoulders above all other oil producing states however with almost non-stop construction going on in the state. Uyo is a beautiful shiny city and it would appear that the proceeds of oil sales from the state were used (mostly) for the state.
Sadly, Rivers state, the most cosmopolitan of Niger Delta states is a disgrace to all oil producing states anywhere in the world. Port Harcourt is a rowdy dirty mess of a city, rife with violence and marred with bad roads and a glaring lack of infrastructure.
Many economists actually believe that natural resources can be a curse on a people, and there is strong evidence to support this theory.
Lagos, without oil, without natural resources, without arable land, has remained the city of envy for all other states in the country except for maybe Calabar and Abuja. Instead, the city state has thrived on the endeavour and enterprise of its teeming population.
It is therefore hoped, that the drive and commitment of Governor Ambode will not be watered down with the discovery of oil in the State – Lagos can expect its own monthly handout from Abuja soon as the output from Aje Field start to convert to petrodollars.
Development is brought about almost exclusively by the commitment and determination of a visionary leader. Not by an abundance of natural resources, oil in Lagos being no exception.
One thing is for sure: Aje field is so far from Lagos Island, area boys and Omo oniles will have a hard time disruption operations and fomenting trouble in the hope of getting amnesty dollars.
And so in the final analysis, the discovery will likely cause very little change to the life of the average Lagosian. With crude oil still selling well below $50/barrel on the international market, it seems tax and land will remain the mainstay of the Lagos State government for a long time to come.