THE NIGERIAN STATE AND THE CHALLENGES TO SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA REGION
IYABRADE IKPORUKPO (Ph.D)
DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
NIGER DELTA UNIVERSITY, WILBERFORCE ISLAND
The Niger Delta region is the bedrock of Nigeria’s crude oil production. The region is prone to developmental challenges and socio-political crisis. This paper examines the nature and character of the Nigerian State that undermine the development of oil producing communities of the Niger Delta. This study in addition to data collected from various sources, relied on data collected through the use of questionnaire administered to respondents from oil producing communities of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State also referred to as core state of the Niger Delta. Their responses were classified and analyzed in simple percentage, the result indicates that years of state neglect of communities have created dislocations of traditional and social values leading to hostile and tense environment where oil companies operate with fear of the unknown. The paper concludes that the challenges to sustainable peace and development are complex but not insurmountable. It recommends among other that the state should initiate mutual collaborative relationship among the various stakeholders of the oil industry (host communities, oil companies and the Federal Government).
Nigeria is an artificial creation which like most other African states is a product of colonialism (Ayoade, 2000). This fact is central to understanding the country’s government and politics which have been conditioned and bedeviled by various agitations and complains of marginalization, alienation, suppression as well as calls for Sovereign National Conference (SNC) by the various federating units and interest groups.
The Niger Delta region for instance contains a large reserve of crude oil that is driving the Nigerian economy. The area accounts for over 90% of the nation’s export earning and up to 80% of revenue accruing to the Federation Account mainly from oil exploration and production in the region (ECA, 2005). The region is prone to developmental challenge and socio-political crisis that have consequences beyond the region. The crisis can largely be traced down to the Nigerian state continued dependence on oil revenues and the over-concentration of powers at the centre which has resulted in the over-bearing domination of the federal government. Consequently, various groups sprang up in the region to seek for self determination, resource control and so on. Notable among them are the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVP). While the former adopts relatively peaceful methods in its agitation, the operations of the later two include hostage-taking, disruption and vandalization of oil pipelines and other acts of economic sabotage.
Complicating this situation is the deep-seated feeling of neglect which lies at the root of a widespread discontentment in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian state rather than addressed the genuine agitations of the people of the region for better living condition, decided to grant amnesty to certain category of people and placed them on monthly allowance, with the resultant effect of cessation of hostility. Considering the fact that Nigeria is an oil dependent economy and has become vulnerable to every fluctuation in the price of oil and that the presence of oil companies in the Niger Delta have actual and potential impact on the environment, there is an urgent need to address those issues that have hindered sustainable peace and development, in the region. These are the anti-dote, to the various agitations and restiveness in the region.
This paper examines the character of the major stakeholders in the crisis of development in the Niger Delta and...
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