The First Republic minister of Mines and Power and former Nigerian permanent representative at the United Nations, Alhaji Maitama Sule, has said that discovery of oil in Nigeria was both a blessing and a curse.
He said that ownership of oil wells by individual Nigerians was the cause of the corruption in governance as billions of naira that was supposed to be remitted to the federal government treasury was diverted to individual foreign accounts.
He emphasised that oil is a blessing to Nigerians because it brought to the nation huge amount of money and a curse because it brought corruption.
Dan-Masani blamed corrupt government officials for the wasteful extravagance of the oil resources and accused the leaders of sending their girlfriends to do their hair in Paris, and shop in London and holidays in New York.
He noted that they built mansions in the midst of ghettos with no access road and purchase luxurious limousines only to drive them on the rough and dusty roads of Nigeria all with stolen money.
He however stated that oil exploration begun in Nigeria with a dashed hope as the exploring companies couldn’t find oil initially and had vacated the sites in the Niger Delta area.
According to him Shell was the first oil company to start oil exploration in the country and having discovered no oil deposit had at that time called on the Nigerian government and informed its representative in London that they have moved out of the proposed oil fields.
He disclosed that for reasons best known to the oil exploration companies coupled with some contractual amendments, they later returned to site and fortunately for Nigeria they announced the discovery of oil in commercial quantity.
“I succeeded the late Ribadu as petroleum minister who was the minister of Defence, Mines, Power and in charge of oil and so I remained in oil sector from 1959 to 1966,” Dan Masani said.
To allow for competition, he said he had to travel to Italy and met with another oil exploring company, known as Agip Oil company, and as a result of the series of discussions and agreements, Agip agreed to come to Nigeria and compete with the seven other oil companies.