How Nigeria can Overcome Pending Hardship: Lessons from the Collapse of Warri

delta map

The common reasons why viable and strong cities like Warri becomes empty and poor as a result of mismanagement and insecurity challenges.

Analyst says the current hardship in the country may continue for years, if the government sit aloof and do nothing after food and energy.

Every Nigeria City or aspiring city should learn something from the Collapse of Warri as Oil City. Warri was a big industrial hub in the 70’s – 90’s.

Warri Refinery, NNPC, DSC, Delta Glass, Shell, Chevron, Schlumberger, Dunlop, Agip, Saipem, Halliburton were in full operation back then. Escravos & Forcados were at their peak.

The city thrived. The city was full of zeal and zestful activities. People living outside hardcore Warri called themselves Wafarians because of propinquity to Warri even though they were not Wafarians. To be a Wafarian was to belong to supposedly a unique lifestyle.

Multinational/Local Banks were present Citibank, FBN, ACB, Savannah Bank. Business activities thrived. Warri port was a beehive of economic activities

Entertainment/Night life was at its peak, Musicians, Live bands at Palmgroove Hotel, Comedians held their sway: Fela, legendary Don Baker, Majek Fashek, Emma Grey, Oritz Wiliki, Rex Lawson were a few of many of the entertainers that made Warri ebullient. Lido, Zina, etc were comparable to their ilks anywhere.

The town was full of life and it thrived. McDermot road was busy with Maritime activities and contractors. Kingsway Mall offered anything sold in Lagos at that time.

Joma & Mosheshe were big fish distributors across the Niger Delta. Rubber produced locally, was used to produce plastics and tyres.

The town grew in size and became a conurbation with people coming from all over the country to settle down in Warri for economic activities.

The Airports were super busy, Escravos, Forcados & Warri Airport. The Warri Airport was even relocated to Osubi for expansion.

Tinubu and fuel subsidy

Warri was revelling in its glory. Warri Port was fully operational and served as an economic booster for the city. It served businesses in Warri, Benin, Asaba & Onitsha. The Port created huge employment opportunities for locals and the state.

Things started to go downhill from the late 90’s. The community leaders and youth chairmen began to fight themselves over control/sharing formula for royalties that came from oil & businesses from settlers.

Itsekiri, Urhobo & Ijaw leaders & youths started fighting each other. The bloody fight started around 1999 and lasted for years till 2003 to 2004.

The community leaders started imposing local taxes called “Deve” on all companies, industries and local businesses, buildings & projects.

Little by little, the companies frustrated, started leaving.

This continued throughout the early 2000’s till 2010. The companies kept on leaving, one after the other. The companies layed off their employees. Unemployment rose.

More companies left for PH, Lagos, Akwa Ibom. They layed off more staff. Unemployment increased still.

Today all that is left in Warri, is a shadow of its glorious past. 95% of all the big companies in Warri had either left or closed down.

Most of the young people have left Warri. The ones left are driving Keke, doing P.O.S, Spa or Boutique, Beer parlour or doing hookup.

There’s peace now, but the damage the greedy community leaders did to Warri, still lingers on and is almost irredeemable at this point.

Do not assume that your city or even Nigeria cannot be destroyed if it toes the same route Warri followed. Warri leaders did not ever believe that Warri will be this economically empty today while they were fighting then. Learn from Warri and protect our economies.

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