As the world seeks cleaner alternatives to fossil fuel with the aim of halting climate change in its tracks, Nigeria's contemplation flickers, torn between giving up the stupendous fortunes of the liquid gold and charting a new path for a sustainable future. 

This dilemma is thickened by the fear of the unknown. Crude oil accounts for over 95 per cent of Nigeria's export earnings and about 40 per cent of government revenues, according to the International Monetary Fund. Despite attempts at diversifying the economy to areas such as agriculture and entertainment, the country still depends on it's oil wells for sustenance.

Will Nigeria lose it's coveted revenue source by phasing out the production and use of fossil fuel?

Nigeria's oil according to BudgIt is set to run out in 45 years. Based on proven oil reserves of 37 billion barrels and daily oil production of 2 million barrels, Nigeria's oil will run out. 

This coming apocalypse presents the country of 200 million people with the opportunity to create what climate activist, Peter Thorley, describes as "a model 360 turnaround" which can serve as a template for transition from fossil fuel to cleaner and climate friendly alternatives.  

"Nigeria is a unique situation because it has a young population in tune with the times, the geography is friendly for creating sustainable alternatives and my projection is that Nigeria can make N11trn from solar energy and wind farms alone," says Thorley. 

He adds that Nigeria, "Has a large population and economy run on generators which pollutes the environment with carbon monoxide and noise. 

"Imagine what people will pay for a cleaner and more quite alternative. And this does not even include mini grids which locals can use to sell power to neighbouring countries like Benin Republic or Cameroon."

For Ummi Dadi, who owns a solar business, expected revenue from greener sources peaks at N14trn.

"I say Nigeria will make nothing less than N14trn yearly from renewables. 

"All we need is the political will to start exploring this fallow Eldorado," he said. 

The numbers are high, compared to the N9.4trn Nigeria made in 2018 from crude oil sales. 

Beyond the numbers, projected revenue and possibilities for Nigeria, the country's fingers still drips in unsustainable use and sale of oil. In order to tap into the possibilities, Nigeria must show real commitment in planning a sustainable yet profitable future for its 200 million citizens.

This article was written with the support of as part of the 2019 Climate Tracker Data Journalism Fellowship


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