Several studies have demonstrated the impact of oil in Nigeria, with recent literature showing that modern Nigeria can hardly be understood without oil. There is now an abundance of literature to present an overview of the subject. In this first piece, the modest intention is to indicate the range of literature as well as identify the broad themes. An attempt is also made to locate the themes in their historical context in order to indicate some of the major changes in the literature. Subsequent essays will identify the paradigmatic shifts in the literature, as well as the major gaps that exist. In addition, we hope to argue in another essay that large bodies of work exist to sustain reliable comparative studies.
The introduction to this essay sets out the themes to be discussed, and each receives separate attention. These themes include the impact of the oil industry on Nigeria's workers, environment, and communities within the oil rich Niger Delta. They also include the impact of oil revenue on Nigeria's foreign policy, national development, and political stability. An examination of the literature from the 1950s to the present reveals several clear patterns of change. The literature begins with an optimistic view of the oil industry, shifts toward in-depth discussions during the 1970s and 1980s on the impact of the oil shock, and currently resides on issues of environmental destruction and human rights violations incurred from the oil industry. The synthesis presented here privileges research-based essays and books.