Saturday, February 20, 2010


[Draft: comments welcome]
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Statement of problem
1.3 Objective of the study
1.4 Research hypothesis
1.5 Theoretical framework
1.6 Significance of the study
1.7 Research methodology
1.8 Scope/Limitations of the study
2.1 Politics
2.2 Development
2.3 Oil
2.4 Oil and development
2.5 Oil and development efforts in the Niger Delta
2.6 Resource agitations in the Niger Delta
2.7 Militancy
3.1 Origin of militancy in the Niger delta
3.2 Typologies of militants in the Niger Delta
3.2.1 Peaceful resource agitations - militancy
3.2.2 Political thugs - militancy
3.2.3 Cult group - militancy
3.3 Sources of funding of militancy
4.1 Militancy and the Nigerian Economy
4.2 Militancy and political opportunities in the Niger delta
4.3 The presidential amnesty programme and militancy,
5.1 Summary
5.2 Conclusion
5.3 Recommendations

1.1 Background of the Study
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is indisputably one of the most richly endowed countries on the continent. It boasts of immense resources (human and material) which provides opportunity for national development (Oyakorotu, 2008:1). But one issue that has continued to attract national and global attention in recent times is the spate of militancy in the Niger Delta. The frequent attacks on Oil installations and facilities by militant groups spread over 500 camps in the region have become a source of concern to peace lovers, scholars and policy makers alike.
Nigeria no doubt is a petro dollar state. That is a monocultural economy that depends solely on oil. Be that as it may, the wealth that sustains the Nigerian economy ever since oil displaced agricultural resources as the mainstay of the nation’s economy is produced in the Niger Delta, located in the Southern part of the country.
A delta in simple parlance describes an area cris- crossed by Rivers, Rivulets and Creeks which empty themselves into the sea or ocean. The Niger Delta of Nigeria is among the richest deltas in the world. Other major deltas are either famous for crude oil and natural gas (Amazon in Brazil, Orionoco in Venezuela, Mississippi in the U.S.A., Mahakarn in Indonesia) or grow mainly rice (e.g. Indus in Pakistan, Ganges in Bangladesh, Mekong in Vietnam)(Petters,2006:1)
The Niger Delta which derives its name from the River Niger, is one of the world largest wetlands and African s largest Delta covering some 70, 000km2 formed by the accumulation of sedimentary deposits transported by the Niger and Benue Rivers (Azaiki, 2007:1 World Bank Report, 1993:1). The hydrology of the region is determined by the tides of the Atlantic Ocean and the flood regime of the River Niger. The ecosystem is particularly sensitive to changes in water quality, such as salinity or pollution to changes in hydrology. The Niger Delta communities have settled in the area for many millennia with the Ijaws being the oldest group, having lived there for over 7,000 years (Alagoa, 2000:3).
There are different conceptualizations of the Niger Delta. According to the Willinks Commission Report (1958), “The Niger Delta lies within the Ibo Plateau and the Cross River valley: a geographical entity which covers the present Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers State”. Conceptualizing the Niger Delta from a different perspective, publication of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) reads that:
… The River Niger disgorges its waters into the Atlantic Ocean through a large number of tributaries which form the Niger Delta. The area of the Delta is further enlarged by rivers other than tributaries of the Niger. Calabar River, Cross River and Imo River to the East, and Siluko River, Benin river, Escravos River and River Forcados, to the West (OMPADEC Quarterly Report, 1993:80).

From the OMPADEC perspective, the River Niger, its tributaries and other rivers which have enlarged the area of the Niger Delta, define the scope of the area. It therefore posits that the Niger Delta is made up of at least 7 States- Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Ondo and Edo States.
In a similar vein, the successor to OMPADEC, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) advanced a broader but widely refuted definition of the Niger Delta. The NDDC Act (2000) described the Niger Delta as consisting of Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers State. This conceptualization places the Niger Delta as synonymous with oil producing states in Nigeria, which it is not. It is imperative to note that, with State creation and Boundary Adjustments, some Niger Delta communities are now located outside the widely accepted six (Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross river and Edo States) Niger Delta states just as oil politics has drawn non-Niger Delta communities into the boundaries of the region. Over 20 million people inhabit the area, with over 20 ethnic groups and 800 communications (Okoko and Ibaba, 1997:57). Be that as it may, the area accepted as the Niger Delta for the purpose of this study is what some scholars and Niger Deltans alike describes as the “Core Niger Delta”. That is, states geographically characterized predominantly or to an extent with deltaic features such as: Bayelsa, Rivers and part of Delta State. The ethnic groups in the region include, the Ijaw, Isoko, Itsekiri, Ogoni, Urhobo, Ikwerre, Epic/Atissa, Ogbia etc.
The Niger Delta is the hub of oil and gas production in Nigeria, accounting for about 80% of total Government Revenue, 95% of Foreign Exchange and over 80% of National Wealth (Tell, February 18, 2008:33). The oil Industry in the Niger Delta is dominated by multinational corporations such as Chevron, Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, Totoal, Agip, SPDC, ELF and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Presently, there are over 600 Oil fields, 5,284 Onshore and Offshore Oil Wells, 10 Export Terminals, 275 Flow Stations, 4 Refineries and a Liquefied National Gas Project (Lubeck, Watts and Lipschits. As at 2007, Statistics shows that about 23,183.9 billion barrels of Crude Oil were said to have been produced in the Niger Delta, which amounts to a staggering National revenue of 29.8 trillion naira (TELL, February 18, 2008:28).
Paradoxically, despite the abundance wealth the region parade, which is the fiscal basis of the Nigerian State, majority of Niger Deltans live in a state of chronic want. The region epitomizes one of the extreme situations of poverty and under development in the mist of plenty. Infrastructural development is very low, while poverty and unemployment levels are very high. The poverty level is about 80 percent, and unemployment level ranks 70 percent. Access to basic social amenities is very limited. For example, over 80 percent of the coastal or riverine communities’ source water for drinking, cooking and other domestic users, from polluted rivers, streams and lakes that is equally used for disposing of human and other forms of waste. The upland communities largely drink from shallow wells that are contaminated. Indeed, the Niger Delta falls below the national average, in all measures or indicators of development (Ibaba, 2005:13-14). The costs of living in the Niger Delta, is very high, and even the prices of petroleum products is one of the highest in the country.
Unlike other oil producing nations of the world, oil has been a curse to the people of the Niger Delta. Its exploration and exploitation since 1958 has set in political ecological and socio-economical conditions that generate abject poverty, misery and backwardness in the region. The region has over the years been deprived of peace, progress, justice and its resources that were expected to bring about good life to is inhabitants (Inokoba and Imbua, 2008:647). Prior to the discovery and exploration of oil and gas resources in the region, the primary occupation of the people was fishing and farming. It is however sad to note that, oil exploration and exploitation has destroyed the subsistence economy of the people. Testimonies from various quarters lend credence to the claim that environmental degradation occasioned by oil spillages has made life extremely difficult for the local people. The destruction of farmlands, fishponds and rivers had radically altered the economic life of the once self reliant and productive region for the worst (Okonta and Oronto, 2001:108).
Put differently, the unbridled exploitation of crude oil and natural gas beneath the lands of the Niger Deltans over the past fifty years has cause indescribable and irredeemable ecological devastation of the Niger Delta land. Oil related environmental multidimensional problems that have made life unbearable for the people of the Niger Delta includes: water and land pollution as a result of spills and drilling activities, destruction of vegetations, deforestation, displacement of human settlements as a result of installation and location of exploration facilities such as crude oil and gas carrying pipes that cris-crossed most communities in the regions, loss of bio-diversity such as fauna and flora habitat; destruction of mangrove swamps and salt marsh, air polluting and acid vain from oil and gas processing evaporation and flaring; industrial solid waste disposal and several others (Azaiki, 2003). For instance, the consumption of food and water from this poisoned environment has led to the emergence of new disease that are devastating to the health of the people of the region. The result of this is poor fecundity and lower life expectancy in the Niger Delta. Recent studies in Bayelsa and Delta state shows that, there is one medical doctor for every 150,000 inhabitants. Oil has wrought only poverty, state violence and a dying ecosystem (Okonta, 2005).
Inspired by the above existential realities in the region, Niger Deltans began to make demands on the Nigerian State and Multinational oil companies operating in the area to better their lot. But instead of redress, the people were visited with State violence, repression and brutalization. The invasion and occupation of Niger Delta communities such as Umuechem, Ogoni Land, Opia, Tombra, Kaiama, Soku, Odi, Odioma, Agee, Gbaramatu and Oporoza etc by the Nigerian Military captures reality. Therefore, it is not surprising that the consciousness of exploitation, marginalization and disempowerment has made the Niger Delta a region of deep rooted frustration, hence the escalating crisis. The truth is that, it is the long decades of the Nigerian State trivialization of the genuine and peaceful agitations of the Niger Deltans that metamorphosed to the violent militant phase of oil agitations in the region. That is, the refusal of the Nigerian state to respond positively to the pens and placards of the Harold Dappapiriye and the Ken Saro-Wiwa’s era, has created an environment of anger and desperation. Moreso, the dialogue option has equally failed because the Nigerian State have refused to adequately implement numerous blue prints for development in the region. The armed insurrection against the Nigerian state was formally launched after the 1998 Kaiama Declaration. Comprising mostly of ethnic militias of which over 70% are of the Ijaw ethnic origin, the youths accuse the state, and in tandem the oil and gas ventures of systematic looting at their God given resources, destruction of the ecosystem and marginalization (Onoyume, 2007). The youths have therefore militarized the struggle to develop their backward environment and to secure greater control of oil revenue derived from the region. This led to the establishment of armed groups operating under such names as Egbesu Boys, MEINBUTU, Arogbo freedom fighters, Joint Revolutionary Council, Niger Delta Volunteer Force, and the dreaded Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). The activities of this militant groups has serious implications to peace and security in the region, oil exploitation, national revenue profit and other derivatives and that will be the core of our study.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Nigerian is the Jewel in the African Oil crown, but Oil and militancy in the Niger Delta has become a subject of discussion just like the British weather. Whereas the oil produced in the Niger Delta, is the life blood of the Nigerian economy, oil has failed to translate to regional prosperity and development in the Niger Delta. The region has become a hot bed of crisis because the problems of neglect and marginalization have been pushing the people to resist deprivations, intimidation and domination, hegemonic politics and injustice.
Scholars have focused on oil production, the poor state of development in the Niger delta and the resultant militancy in vogue for some time now. The literature blames this on federalism and the politics of revenue sharing in Nigeria (Okoko and Nna, 1997; Orabator etal, 2006, Ikporukpo, 1996; Ibaba, 2005); environmental injustices and human rights violation (Aaron, 2006, Okonta and Oronto, 2001), the failure of corporate social responsibility on the part of multinational oil companies (Ikelegbe, 2008, Aaron, 2008, Clark, et al 1999); accountability and transparency failures in governance (Peel, 2005; Inokoba and Imbua, 2008; Enweremadu, 2008); hegemonic politics (Isumonah, 2005) and the obnoxious laws that govern the oil industry (Ibaba, 2005). It is this prevailing reality in the Niger delta that has given birth to an environment of perpetual agitations, youth’s restiveness, insurgency and general insecurity.
From the dialectics of violent oil agitations (militancy) in the Niger Delta, two major arguments appear discernable. One, that violent oil agitation is as a result of the Nigerian government’s application of force in quelling non-violent agitations/protests of Niger Deltans against the state of gross underdevelopment of the area that arose from the neglect by both Federal Government and Multinational oil companies operating in the area. We must reiterate the fact that, the tremendous amount of oil revenue derived from the Niger Delta costs the people their farm lands, fishing rivers and a host of other health hazards (like acid rain) due to the enormous environmental degradation caused by oil production activities of petrol businesses. References are usually made to government violent actions such as the incarceration and attendant execution of Ken Saro-wiwa and eight other activists of 1995, the Aleibiri Demonstration Crisis 1997; the Kaiama Declaration crisis of 1998; the Opia/Ikiyan invasion of 1999, the Odi invasion of 1999, the deployment of naval war ships to Warri by the Federal Government to quell the Ijaw-Itsekiri crisis over the revocation of Warri-South Local Government Council Headquarters from Ogbe-Ijoh, and Ijaw town to Ogidegben, an Itsekiri town, the arrest and detention of Asari Dokubo, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Henry Okah, etc (Oweila, 2009; Nwabueze, 1999; Ibeanu, 2000; Akpan, 2006; Clark, 2007; Azaiki, 2009).
The second side of the argument asserts that, militancy in the Niger Delta in the form of hostage taking kidnapping, pipeline vandalism, hijacking, etc is as a result of frustration due to lack of education, poverty, unemployment and idleness of the youths in the region. It there for contends that militants are not fighting for the socio-economic and political emancipation of the region, but simply to enrich themselves (Ibeanu, 2000; Koroye, 2007; Akanfa, 2007; Igini, 2008; Bariagh Amange, 2009). The fundamental question that begs for answers is that, on which side of the argument does the truth lie? There is thus the need to critically investigate and establish the true situation, which this study seeks to achieve.
Experience has shown that scholars have not really focused on the process of militant making/formation and the typologies of militants produced in the region. Again, not much has been done to unravel the link between the clamour by the South-South to produce the President of the country during the build up to the 2007 general elections, the support of the above demand by militant groups and the attendant emergence of Goodluck Jonathan, a minority from the Niger Delta as Vice President of Nigeria. The study seeks to fill this existing knowledge gap. More so, the study will critically investigate whether militancy has influenced the distribution of political power and enhanced the political opportunities of the Niger Delta people. To achieve this, the study will attempt to answer, the following research questions.
(a) What factors explains Niger Delta underdevelopment in the mist of abundance oil and gas resources?
(b) What is the nature of oil agitations in the Niger Delta?
(c) Why the Babel of voices in militant agitations?
(d) Has militancy enhanced political opportunities in the Niger Delta?
(e) Has militancy given Niger Deltans a voice in national politics?
(f) Is militancy accommodated by the political class in the Niger Delta?
(g) Will the Presidential Amnesty package be a permanent solution to militancy in the region?
(h) What is the way forward in the Niger Delta region?
1.3 Objectives of the study
The fundamental objective of the study is to investigate the oil exploration/exploitation and militancy nexus in the Niger delta. The study will also examine the process of militants’ creation cum formation, the attendant categories, and their activities in the Niger Delta. More so, the study will ascertain whether militancy has enhanced political opportunities in the Niger Delta in terms of attainment and maintenance of political power.
Hypothesis in research connotes: an intelligent guess, a tentative answer in explaining social phenomenon, or untested generalization. Therefore, for purpose of guidance, we wish to deduce the following hypothesis.
(a) The violent oil agitation in the Niger Delta is the creation of long years of neglect, marginalization and environmental degradation despite the regions contribution to the nation’s common wealth (economy).
(b) Militancy has enhanced political opportunities in the Niger Delta.
(c) The Presidential Amnesty programme will not succeed if the root causes of militancy are not addressed.

The Marxist Political Economy approach is deemed fit to be adopted as the analytical construct in this study. The reason has been that, the approach scientifically studies the society in its totality and takes into consideration the interconnection of social relations, class conflict and the organic relationship between the sub-structure (economy) and the super structure (politics).
Political economy is concerned with the social laws of production and distribution (Lange, 1974:7). The Marxist political economy approach is a holistic, historical orientation, which is used for the analysis of social formations and their contradicting relationships. It mainly focuses on the economic laws which govern the production and distribution of material benefits among individuals and groups at different stages of development of society (Iwarimie, 1991:50). Put differently, the approach is seen as the window to understand the laws that govern the economic life of the society. It explains the relationship between what man produce and how he benefits from the surplus he produce. The approach show how the various parts of the superstructure are used as instruments of the ruling class domination, and as mechanism of oppression of the subject class.
According to Ake (1981), a major advantage of this approach is that, it emphasizes the relatedness of social phenomena. This links exist between the economic structure and social structure. More so, the approach helps to penetrate deep into the processes and policies, lay bare their essence and then explain concrete forms of their manifestation.
In essence the political economy approach will unravel the oil production and lack of development paradox in the Niger Delta, which is attributed to the obnoxious laws that governs the oil industry, the lopsided federalism and revenue allocation mechanism in the country, neglect and marginalization of the ethnic minorities that bear the burden of oil exploration and exploitation, etc. It will also explain the lack of political will on the part of the federal government to develop the region.
On the other hand, the history of all hitherto existed society is the history of class struggle (Marx, 1977). Thus, the class analysis framework of the approach best explains the endemic class struggle between the exploiters (Federal Government and Oil Multinationals) and the exploited Niger Deltans. According to Marxist thought, consciousness means man’s ability to ideally reproduce in his mind the surrounding reality existing beyond and independent of him, the production of which is engendered by contradictions (domination, exploitation and marginalization in society. It posits that the dominated, exploited and marginalized groups, which paradoxically generated or bears the burden of creating resources, seeks to change the status quo when it becomes conscious (Libman and Borisox, 1985:125; Marx and Engels, 1977; Luckac, 1968).
It is imperative to note that the consciousness of exploitation is enhanced by the movement of a class from a class-in-itself, an unconscious class category, to a class-for-itself (which is a conscious class category). The above explanation also captures the transition from Ethnic group-in-itself to Ethnic group-for-itself. (Ibaba, 2005:25). Therefore, the agitations (now very violent) in the Niger Delta by the ethnic minorities are attributed to the consciousness of exploitation and the struggle to change the status quo. Ken Saro-wiwa buttresses this point when he opined that:
There is tremendous awareness in Ogoni now… there is no woman or child who does not know… that the Nigerian government is cheating them and that the ethnic majorities in Nigeria are cheating them… They also know that … something has to be done to stop it… (Cited in Ibaba, 2002:83).

More so, it is the frustration of the initial peaceful agitations inability to realize set goals that necessitated the violent militant agitations in vogue. The argument is that, psychology teaches that frustration creates worry which in turn leads to anger and ultimately violence (Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis), which captures reality in the Niger Delta.

The significance of the study is hinged on the fact that, the findings will fill an existing knowledge gap; hence a contribution to knowledge as regards the militant crisis in the Niger Delta. It will aid better understanding of the causative factors in the lingering oil agitation crisis and proffer solutions. Lastly, the study will unravel socio-political developments attributed to the crisis.

This study falls under the survey research typology. Data will be sourced basically from secondary sources such as: Textbooks, Journals, Magazines, Newspapers, and Government Publication etc, that are relevant to the subject matter. The Personal observation of the researcher about issues that characterize the militant crisis in the Niger Delta is also an advantage. Content analysis will be adopted as the instrument for data analysis.
Ideally, the first pre-requisite of a successful research in any science is a definite understanding of what size of a unit one is going to observe in line with the above premise and considering the fact that the Niger Delta will be too large for such vigorous study in a limited time-span, the study therefore shall be limited to the core Niger Delta (Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers State). The study will thus investigate oil and development in the area, the nature of oil agitations, and assess political opportunities in the pre-militancy and militancy era in the region.

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