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Niger delta conflict on the nigerian economy politics essay

The Rise of Militancy Direct action in the Niger Delta thus emerged from the context of heightened inequalities, hardened ethnic identities and ethnicised perceptions of oil ownership.

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These characteristics were evident in the Ogoni protests of the early 1990s, which set an important precedent for later Ijaw action. The eventual execution of Saro-Wiwa and eight other leading Ogonis in 1995 for the supposed murders of four opposition leaders within MOSOP is regarded as a key moment in de-legitimising the idea of non-violent action among communities in the Niger Delta Owolabi and Okwechime 2007. Ijaw agitation became pronounced in 1998 with the release of niger delta conflict on the nigerian economy politics essay Kaiama Declaration and the founding of the Ijaw Youth Conference IYCan umbrella organisation of Ijaw youth associations with the motto: Direct action among the Ijaw has quickly embraced more violent methods than MOSOP, including attacks on oil pipelines and offshore oil installations, as well as kidnappings.

Leading this direct action are the Ijaw youth, who asserted themselves as a political force in the late 1990s and early 2000s, often through pushing aside local elders Obi and Aas Rustad 2011.

Local elders and leaders had traditionally directed negotiations and dealings with the state and MNCs HRW 2005yet they appeared increasingly marginalised in the face of an activist youth who began to capture community organisations and dominate the agenda, with the IYC coming to play a pivotal leadership role.

Whilst some leaders do sympathise and even support the aims of militants, it is clear that these youth now operate beyond the authority of their local elders Ikelegbe 2006, 98. Youth Militancy in the Niger Delta In order to understand the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta, the ascendancy of youth as political actors needs to be understood, focusing particularly on why this ascendancy occurred and the motivations which underlay it. Secondly, economic motivations for militancy will be considered with regards to the specific youth grievances created by petro-capitalism; utilising insights from the politics of youth in Africa to address questions of greed and livelihood.

The roots of violent militancy and its youth led nature must first be considered. As has been mentioned, peaceful action in the 1990s was met with brutal military repression, emanating from MNC oil concessions, and this has continued even under civilian government with widespread human rights abuses against the Ijaw well documented Bassey 2006.

Successive militarisation of the Niger Delta, exacerbated by increasing US involvement in the Gulf of Guinea Ifeka 2010has further delegitimised non-violent action as an effective strategy in the eyes of the oil minorities.

When connected with the concurrent increased accessibility of weapons, this is argued to have directly led to the violent nature of contemporary action Ebienfa 2011; Idemudia and Ite 2006. Equally, the cooperation between MNCs and the state military is indicative of the oil complex at work; underlying the visceral dislike of both among communities in the Niger Delta Ikelegbe 2006.

However, the shift to violence was concurrent with the rise of the local youth as political actors. This positive correlation is connected to the inability of the elder generation of local leaders to stand up to the state and MNCs to achieve gains for local communities Emeseh 2011. Youth accuse their traditional leaders of turning a blind eye to the plunder of their lands by oil companies, to the 1969 Petroleum Act and the 1978 Land Use Decree and the acceptance of paltry compensation Jike 2004, 696.

In a series of interviews with militants and local communities, Osaghae et al. Inter-generational disenchantment therefore provides a local power context through which the de-legitimisation of non-violent action surfaced, potentiating the simultaneous rise of youth and militancy. However, inter-generational disenchantment lies only at the surface of the issue.

Contracts and frequent cash payments to local leaders are reflective of the clientalist relations inherent to petro-capitalism, whilst the failure of a raft of symbolic community development projects has done nothing to ameliorate community grievances Watts 2007. Local leaders and elders did not simply fail to prevent the current environmental devastation and marginalisation of the oil minorities; they form a part of the oil complex which caused this catastrophe, through a reciprocal relationship with MNCs.

Local youth correctly perceive their elders as connected to the clientalist networks of the oil complex in ways which have led to the further privation and marginalisation of their position Osaghae et al.

  1. University of Leeds Written for.
  2. The derivation principle grew from 1.
  3. Illegally bunkered oil is generally moved out to sea by militants on small barges, before being sold onto the international oil market. In other words, the amnesty program has not been able to remove them from what sachs 2005 refers to as poverty trap-a situation in which degraded environment, poor health, poor education, poor infrastructure and poor standard of living reinforce one another.

Youth militancy therefore invokes not only a resistance to MNCs and the state, but also to the gerontocratic rule of local leaders.

In summary, the violence of contemporary militancy is born in the military repression enacted by the oil complex, and its generational constitution is reflective of the complicity of local elders and leaders in the catastrophe wrought across the Delta.

This shift is vital to understanding contemporary militancy, and is not explicable without understanding the consequences of petro-capitalism for local inter-generational politics. At first glance, evidence for the blatant greed and criminality of youth militants appears convincing. Many militant groups are involved in illegal forms of economic predation including oil bunkering, where oil is tapped from pipelines and sold on the black market. The money raised is used to buy arms, fund further militant activity and enrich militants, particularly leaders Asuni 2009.

Collier argues this reveals youth militants to be nothing more than a vast criminal syndicate operating across the Niger Delta, offering social justice rhetoric whilst following strategies of self-enrichment 2007. However, by ignoring the role of petro-capitalism in exacerbating historic inequalities and altering local power contexts, this perspective fails to properly conceptualise the nature of contemporary militant activity.

Alongside poverty and a decline in the environmental viability of traditional livelihoods, petro-capitalism has caused employment prospects in the formal sector to remain scarce, and youth are very much aware of their status as surplus labour Ifeka 2010. The dearth of employment opportunities and social mobility has left many youth economically reliant upon their parents and elders, increasingly into the period when youth would be expected to establish independent households and families Whyte et al.

Research by Asuni 2009 provides evidence for this, finding that the vast majority of militants are young, single, unemployed, economically powerless and barely literate. An inability to achieve the transition into independent adulthood also includes cultural frustrations, as youth are unable to acquire full political voice in their communities HRW 2005.

The realities of an extended youth can lead militancy to become a particularly viable form of livelihood Abbink 2005; Idemudia and Ite 2006. When considering the plethora of militant groups and organisations, historic and contemporary, in the Niger Delta; some scholars have attempted to draw a conceptual distinction between grievance and greed-driven militancy on the basis of motives Ako 2011.

This line has proven impossible to draw. The Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities FNDICconsidered a respected forum for youth and community grievances and following a highly grievance driven agenda, funded its activities based upon the illegal oil bunkering of the militant wing, trained and led by Government Tompolo Asuni 2009.

Furthermore, the most active militant group in recent years, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta MENDis a loose umbrella organisation strongly connected to oil predation and kidnapping, yet MEND also offers a clear political manifesto and meets this rhetoric with action McNamee 2012; Ukiwo 2007.

To add another layer of complexity, groups such as MEND and the FNDIC are constituted of a plethora of smaller militias and cult gangs Osaghae 2007 connected to university confraternities in Rivers State and known for inter-group niger delta conflict on the nigerian economy politics essay, turf warfare and criminal behaviour Asuni 2009.

A broad characterisation of militancy as criminal therefore appears further ill-founded, not least when considering that militants still receive high levels of support from local communities Osaghae et al. Conclusion By analysing the inter-generational politics inherent to the rise of youth militancy, it becomes apparent that this militancy has erupted from the consequences of the oil complex and petro-capitalism; namely the devastation of the Niger Delta and local livelihoods.

Importantly, petro-capitalism impacts upon multiple actors and networks — with local leaders even forming a part of the oil complex — influencing the political context of these actors in various ways, but with shared consequences of social, political, economic and environmental devastation. The manifestation of petro-capitalism at the local level evidences the need to consider youth militancy as emerging against not only MNCs and the state, but also against local gerontocratic rule, as revealed in the shift towards youth power in the local governable space.

This mixture of individual economic needs and ideological motivations underlie the complex and at times contradictory nature of militant activity. Resistance and Accommodation The complex nature of youth militancy is apparent, yet one final characteristic of militancy requires consideration; the connections between militancy and the oil complex, and how militants use petro-capitalism even as they resist its consequences for their communities.

Connections and Contradictions The evidence for militant connections to the various levels of the oil complex is vast, including cooperation and ties with military and government figures, MNCs and local politicians. During the shift in the local governable space of communities, many local youths were paid by MNCs to provide protection services at the same time as they were usurping the power of local leaders and even conducting anti-state and MNC activities; there is even evidence of violence due to competition over these rents Boas 2012.

Whilst this activity links strongly to militancy as a livelihood strategy, it also points to the active role MNCs have played in fuelling and sustaining local conflict dynamics through their connections with militants WAC 2003. Further examples of this include cult gangs who have been co-opted by local politicians to provide intimidation during election periods. A number of politicians, local and national, are members of the university confraternities from which cult gangs emanate, and retain close links with these groups when it is politically expedient Asuni 2009.

A final connection of militants niger delta conflict on the nigerian economy politics essay the oil complex can be seen through oil bunkering. Illegally bunkered oil is generally moved out to sea by militants on small barges, before being sold onto the international oil market.

Appreciating militant accommodation with the oil complex is important for two reasons. First, it draws attention to the active role of the oil complex in integrating militants into petro-capitalism in such a way as to sustain their activity. Secondly, it is apparent that youth militants utilise the very structures that allowed and created the devastation of the Niger Delta as a means with which to sustain their activity and to fight against it.

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This is the central contradiction in militant behaviour: This symbiosis describes the ways in which militancy emerges out of the social, economic and political consequences of petro-capitalism and in direct opposition to the different axes along which this is represented environmental and economic degradation of oil extraction by MNCs, state repression, and local elite complicity and self-enrichmentyet also connects strongly to the oil complex in order to use the clientalist networks of petro-capitalism to ensure livelihoods and fund continued resistance.

Contemporary Implications and a Rationale for Further Research Today, the Niger Delta provides the backdrop to an uneasy amnesty agreed in 2009, which has seen major militants, such as Ekpemupolo Tompolo and Ateke Tom, lay down their arms; with the government pledging considerable sums toward the rehabilitation of ex-militants and the creation of alternative livelihoods Boas 2012.

This situation is a microcosm of the complexities of youth militant behaviour and motivations. On the one hand, the willingness of militants to end their activities in return for an amnesty and the large numbers that turned up for education in alternative livelihoods reveals how livelihood necessity and legitimate grievances underlie militancy far more than an unquenchable thirst for accessible oil wealth. Equally, this points to the willingness of militants to accommodate with the government if this proves effective in ensuring their livelihoods and achieving gains for their cause.

This situation is indicative of petro-capitalism at work, with the diversion of government rents from their official use and continued support of the Nigerian state for MNCs potentiating further militant grievances and violence.

Indeed, a lack of noticeable progress towards addressing the grievances of the oil minorities has led simmering resentments to turn back towards a violence that was never completely eradicated Otuchikere 2010.

Research must consider the links between militants and the oil complex in order to tease out how these processes are occurring within the amnesty, and the potential this may hold for further rounds of violence.

  1. The judiciary is also very slow at dispensing justice; Ihekweazu, 2012.
  2. The grievances of the Niger Delta people over the revenue allocation mechanism in the country allegedly prompted the renowned environmental activist, Ken Sarowiwa, to embark on a peaceful struggle for the emancipation of the Ogoni People from state-imposed poverty Moro, 2009; p.
  3. The military approach seems to be the last resort which also remains a pointer to the fact that most of the committees set up to address the oil-related conflict have not achieved their goals.
  4. Human security and peace building must always remain top priorities of every responsible government and should remain part of management governance agenda.
  5. In an attempt to seek for recognition by the government of the day, the people have to adopt various forms of criminality to advance their course hence, making the region grossly insecure in all ramifications. This improvement in the standard of living must be both cumulative and in the long duration rather than just temporary.

Instead of characterising all militant activity as criminal, or indeed suggesting it is all grievance inspired, a more holistic and penetrating analysis of youth militancy must ensue, considering the interplay of processes of resistance and accommodation and how these are navigated and understood by youth militants, based upon the realities of petro-capitalism and the youth motivations and strategies elucidated in this report.

Youth Politics and Conflict in Africa, Leiden: Beyond Greed and Grievance, Boulder: Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa, Oxford: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, Boulder: Resource Dependence, Governance and Violence, Abingdon: Connections and Conflicts, Lit Verlag: It is a culturally significant term, denoting those that have not yet reached full adulthood, and Nigerian youth will often have separate youth associations in local communities which are not deemed part of formal community structures HRW 2005.

It is this understanding of youth referred to throughout this report. University of Leeds Written for: Professor Ray Bush Date written: