Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of human and natural resources. It is the 6thlargest exporter of crude oil, formerly the largest and now the third largest exporter of palm oil in the world. It has the largest gas reserves in Africa including a vast accumulation of other natural resources and a population of about 147 million people, but it is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. This contradiction seems to evidence the fact that resources alone are not sufficient to engender growth and national development. For development to occur, the resources (human and material) must be employed to serve the positive needs of man. The human resources must be encouraged to work, initiate, interact and direct material resources towards solving practical problems and creating conveniences for man. For these to be, each and everybody in the society should be given an opportunity to contribute his or her quota toward meeting individual and collective needs. There is a need to create an opportunity space for all to contribute their talents, abilities and aptitudes towards solving societal problems. The wider the opportunity, the better for the economy. However, in Nigeria, unemployment, poverty, corruption, inequality among others, narrow the opportunity structure with the consequence that only a few people are positively engaged while majority of Nigerians rest heavily on receipts from the petroleum industry with its pollution and corruption side effects. This, has generated so much problems as the untapped energy is dissipated in negative directions in an attempt to ‘corner’ a larger share of the petroleum proceeds which is seen as free, God-given national cake which needs no work to benefit from. Intergenerational socio-economic mobility is an index that measures the opportunity structure in society, and the wider the opportunity structure, the more development is likely to occur. In sum, it is not just resources (oil or no oil) but the opportunity space that will engender development.
Key words: Intergenerational, socio-economic, mobility, development.
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