Ethnic Conflict and Socioeconomic Development in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria
Bolanle Akande Adetoun, Rural Sociology and Demography, Center for Sustainable Development and Gender Issues
Research Grant, 2002
Since the end of the Cold War, ethnic conflicts scattered all over the world and often taking place within nations (intrastate) have been the most prevalent form of global violence. Most of these ethnic conflicts take place in Africa, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America, with Africa accounting for roughly 50 percent of these varied conflicts. In Nigeria, the decade of the 1990s witnessed an upsurge of violent conflicts in various parts of the country, especially in the southern Niger-Delta region. The region consists of the majority of the southern ethnic minorities and it is where Nigeria derives the crude petroleum oil that is the economic lifeblood of the country. The conflict in the Niger-Delta region is multidimensional; the communities are at conflict with each other, the government, and the multinational oil companies. The lack of socioeconomic development has been at the core of the various conflicts in the Niger-Delta region. The paradox, however, is that the provision of various developmental assistance projects generates substantial intra- and interethnic conflict. Since a lot of national and international investments have gone (and are still going) into Niger-Delta socioeconomic development, the level of effectiveness of these projects/programs and their impacts on conflict prevention and resolution between and within the communities need to be examined. This study therefore addressed the following questions among many others: What are the various issues involved in the various conflicts that have accompanied socioeconomic development in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria? How are these issues being handled by all the parties concerned? What is the level of cultural acceptability of these projects and how compatible are they with the needs of the intended beneficiaries? What is the level of collaboration and coordination of developmental activities amongst all the parties involved? What should be the role of the state and other stakeholders in the socioeconomic development of the Niger-Delta Region? What has been the impact of these projects on the quality of life of the people? What are the social strategies for project implementation and operation needed to minimize conflicts and elicit and sustain beneficiaries’ participation over the long term?
Conflict analysis, prevention, and resolution should be a central dimension in socioeconomic developmental planning and implementation in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria and that of many communities in developing and transitional economies.
The study was done mainly in the Warri area of Delta state in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. The choice of Warri area, which comprises four local government areas, diverse ethnic groups, and many multinational oil companies, enabled me to have a broad perspective of the various issues involved. The interviews were done in two local government areas and officials of three multinational companies were interviewed. The data for this study thus came from:
1) Primary sources: interviews were held with various stakeholders—community leaders and members, relevant government agencies, and relevant departments of the oil companies and other organizations; and
2) Secondary sources such as newspapers, magazines, government publications, community publications and memoranda, etc.
The findings were discussed under the following headings:
Conflict and Socioeconomic Development in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria.
Community Participation in Projects
Coordination among Development Agencies
Shell and Oil-Related Conflict in the Niger-Delta Region
Women and Oil-Related Conflict in the Niger Delta
Highlight of One National High Conflict-Generating Project and One National Low Conflict-Generating Project
Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Bonny Island Crisis
Government’s Current Efforts on Socioeconomic Development and Minimizing of Conflicts in the Niger-Delta Area
The study concluded by asserting that conflict analysis, prevention, and resolution should be a central dimension in socioeconomic developmental planning and implementation in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria and that of many communities in developing and transitional economies. This should start right from the conception of any program\project, during the implementation, and even after.