The Economic History of Nigeria

The Economic History of Nigeria

Economic History of Nigeria – The geographical entity called Nigeria can be traced to 11,000 BC. The Ancient Benin Empire was the greatest Kingdom and the sovereign state in control of the majority of the southern Nigerian caliphate and other West Africans in diaspora. Others kingdoms were Ife, Oyo and the Yoruba Kingdoms in the west of Nigeria today.

Archaeological research, pioneered by Thurstan Shaw and Steve Daniels has shown that people were already living in south-western Nigeria (specifically Iwo-Eleru) as early as 11,000 BC and perhaps earlier at Ugwuelle-Uturu (Okigwe) in south-eastern Nigeria, where microliths were used. The earliest known example of a fossil human skeleton found anywhere in West Africa, which is 13,000 years old, was found at Iwo-Eleru in western Nigeria and attests to habitation in the region. Microlithic and ceramic industries were also developed from at least the 4th millennium BC and were continued by subsequent agricultural communities. In the south, hunting and gathering gave way to subsistence farming around the same time, relying more on the indigenous yam and oil palm than on the cereals important in the North. Kainji Dam excavations revealed iron-working by the 2nd century BC. The earliest identified iron-using Nigerian culture is that of the Nok culture that thrived between approximately 900 BC and 200 AD on the Jos Plateau in north-eastern Nigeria.
In the pre-colonial times, people engaged in a wide range of economic activities, notably, agriculture, fishing, hunting, craft/industry and trade.  Agriculture was particularly because of available fertile and excellent land for the cultivation of palm trees and food crops. Fishing, hunting and wine tapping were also economic activities engaged in during the pre colonial era. The craft or cottage industry which came in later included the carving of canoes used for fishing, processing of oil from palm fruits, and the distilling of alcoholic drinks from palm wine.  Another important economic activity, was the trade by barter which involved exchange of products in local and distant markets where people met periodically to exchange foodstuffs, livestock, fish, palm oil and palm wine, and pottery wares.

The post colonial oil boom of the 1970s saw Nigeria neglecting its strong agricultural and light manufacturing bases in favor of an unhealthy dependence on crude oil. In 2002 oil and gas exports accounted for more than 98% of export earnings and about 83% of federal government revenue. New oil wealth and the concurrent decline of other economic sectors, led to increasingly widespread poverty, especially in rural areas. This trend continued into the 90s beyond where white collar jobs and jobs in the oil sector became the  dream of many. The farms  were abandoned  as well as the light industry of bead making, pottery, bronze making for the seemingly green pastures. In time, when the world began to seek alternative sources of energy as well as fossil fuels,  the value of the golden oil dropped and combined with other socio-political and economic issues the first economic depression Nigeria has witnessed in a long time began. The youth out of a tiredness of being unemployed have abadoned their dream for white collar jobs and gone to the farms to prove their entrepreneurial skills.

Today, there is hope for the Agriculture industry in Nigeria.

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