In the 1980s the Nigerian economy fell victim to a strain of what economists call Dutch Disease, a precipitous decline following a windfall boom from exploiting a natural resource, brought on not by tulips but by oil. This valuable study reviews the effects of the 1970s oil boom on the national economy, then presents an extended case study of Egbema, an oil- producing district in Igboland. Rural small landholders, who were the great majority of Egbema's population, did not derive any direct economic benefits from oil, the author shows, and their overall welfare deteriorated. The reasons were environmental pollution, rampant inflation, a shift away from labor-intensive crops due to the scarcity and rising cost of labor, and the government's failure to increase spending on schools and social infrastructure at a pace equal to that of population growth. When oil boom became oil doom in the 1980s, farmers found themselves worse off than before, and the country, once agriculturally self-sufficient, had become a net importer of food. Underlying Nigeria's failure to make oil resources an engine of national development, the study concludes, were short-sighted and venal leaders who failed to follow policies that would have benefited citizens.
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