This is why history is important. The failure to pinpoint the departure from the colonial economy post independence is evidence of lack of appreciation of the economic history of Nigeria.
In Benin, post civil war the most a senior civil servant could aim for was a silver bicycle. Even the war economy did not alter this rather low earning civil service.
Then came the Israel Arab war in 1973 and we were suddenly covered with black gold (oil) earning. We had an inexperienced head of government, Gen. Gowon, eager to please his people. He set up the Udoji salaries review commission. Overnight in 1974 the country and Benin went from single digit salary structure to double. The review recommended doubling of every salary grade and backdated for two years.
Benin was booming. Private car ownership boomed, single parent motherhood boomed, importers and exporters and no particular product contractors were created.
That injection of huge cash into the economy overnight created all kinds of unintended consequences for our culture, economy and politics. Our taste buds changed. We were now used to importation of toothpick, Champagne, and other foreign goods. We chop life. King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey and other musicians made money. We imported James Brown to Ogbe stadium, we staged the second world black festive of culture FESTAC 77 without any contributions from any other nation. Nigeria paid the salaries of all civil servants in Trinidad and Tobago for two years as our contributions to our black improvised brothers in diaspora.
Then our population exploded and the Western economies invented their way out of the oil crunch by 1982 we had the oil glut. Too much oil and less buyers at the costs we wanted.
There were no dissenting voices loud enough to say save, improve your local economy.
We laughed at Japanese and Aba products. We learnt the wrong lessons. We lost our confidence. We knew how to be rich and forgot how to poor.
That timeline is the economic history of Nigeria. We fail to provide solutions to our problems if we are unable to detail the problems and it’s orgins.
If my take is historically wrong I stand to be corrected.