Ever since the emergence of oil and gas as the dominant feature of the Nigerian economy, starting from the 1970s, successive administrations in the country have only been paying lip service to the need for economic diversification.
This is despite the fact that the monolithic nature of Nigeria’s oil-dependent economy has always left the country in dire straits whenever there is volatility in the international oil market. However, plans by some technologically advanced nations to switch from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric vehicles are expected to force diversification on the country.
While the Nigerian system is falling apart as a result of the dog fight over oil revenues, the rest of the world is looking beyond hydrocarbons. Efforts to produce an electric vehicle capable of performance similar to that of petroleum-powered vehicles started about two decades ago.
Ordinarily, the idea of driving electrically-powered cars should be an exciting prospect for anyone that is innovation-minded. But such a development will only worsen the current problem of glut in the oil market. Although oil is widely used as a lubricant and for other numerous purposes, there is no doubt that its use in fuelling automobile plays a significant role in the high global demand for oil.
The transport industry is responsible for using 70 per cent of all crude oil produced globally. It is said that the effective take-off and expansion of the automobile industry about 90 years ago gave oil the importance that it enjoys today.
Nigeria may still have time to restructure her economy to be less dependent on oil by shifting emphasis to mining, agriculture and manufacturing. For this to be possible, the problematic power sector has to be fixed while the environment is made more conducive to foreign investment. But for now, the message is clear: there is no future for Nigeria in oil.