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Democracy under Fire in the Niger Delta


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Title: Democracy under Fire in the Niger Delta


Democracy under Fire in the Niger Delta
  • Anyakwee Nsirimovu
  • Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
  • National Endowment for Democracy
  • June 8, 2009
  • The views expressed in this presentation
    represent the analysis and opinions of the
    speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of
    the National Endowment for Democracy or its

Introductory Remarks
Year after year, we were clenched in tyrannical
chains and led through a dark alley of perpetual
political and social deprivation. Strangers in
our own country! Inevitably, therefore, the day
would come for us to fight for our long-denied
right to self-determination. Isaac Adaka
Boro, The Twelve-Day Revolution
Map of Nigeria
Map of the Nigeria Delta Region
Introductory Remarks (contd)
  • Competitive authoritarianism, rather than
    quality democracy, has compounded social
    instability, enabled bad governance, permitted
    the primitive accumulation of wealth.
  • Decades of neglect and frustrated expectations
    have resulted in unprecedented levels of
    violence, especially amongst the youth who feel
    that they have been condemned to a life without
  • Conflict and a call to arms is seen as a
    strategy to escape deprivation.

Introductory Remarks (contd)
  • The Niger Delta region is central to the
    survival of Nigeria. It is emblematic of all
    that is wrong, yet remains indicative of the
    hopes for a better country.
  • If we get the Niger Delta right, we get Nigeria

People of the Niger Delta
  • Traditionally fishermen and farmers, the
    inhabitants of the Niger Delta are not a
    homogenous entity, but share common interests
    and problems.

People of the Niger Delta
Source National Population Census, 2006
People of the Niger Delta (continued)
  • Various peoples were organized into distinct
    city-states at least four centuries before
  • Five major ethno-linguistic groups Ijaoid,
    Yaroboid, Edoid, Iboid, Delta Cross
  • Some of these groups extend beyond the Niger

People of the Niger Delta (cont'd)
Source ERML Field Survey, 2005
People of the Niger Delta (cont'd)
Source National Bureau of Statistics, 2005
People of the Niger Delta (cont'd)
Source Federal Ministry of Health, National HIV
Source Federal Ministry of Health, National
HIV/AIDS Sentinel Survey, 2003 Federal Ministry
of Water Resources Survey, 2006.
People of the Niger Delta (cont'd)
Source Socio-economic Survey on Nigeria, 2006
Nigeria A Brief History
  • 1914 Nigeria is created by Britain
  • 1946 Constitution establishes regional
  • 1954 Federal Constitution introducedNigeria is
    split into 3 regions and those in Niger Delta
    become minorities in both Eastern and Western
  • 1957 London Conference
  • September 1957 Willink Commission
  • 1958 Recommendations of the Commission for Niger
  • 1960 Nigeria is granted independence, ushering
    in an era of internal colonialism
  • 1966 Military coup topples government

The Place of Oil
  • The policy of squeezing maximum production from
    the Niger Delta is a deliberate policy carried
    out by a harsh and repressive regime (Sagay
    2001 25).
  • Provisions that both enable and ensure this
    status quo
  • Revenue Sharing Formula (1960)
  • The Pipelines Act (1965)
  • The Petroleum Decree (1969)
  • Decree No. 9 (1971)
  • The Land Use Act (1978)
  • The Associated Gas Re-Injection Decree (1985)
  • Successive amended constitutions, in particular,
    section 44(3) of 1999 Constitution

The Place of Oil
Nigerias OPEC Quota (19992007) millions of
OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
The Place of Oil (continued)
Total Oil Export Revenue in Billion US Dollars
Crude Oil Production in Millions of Barrels per
Day (19972007)
Source OPEC Annual Stat. Survey, 2007
Source OPEC Annual Stat. Survey, 2007
The Impact of Oil
  • Sustainable development mandates a holistic
    approach to development sensitive to the needs
    of human beings and the environment.
    Puvimanainghe (2000 36)
  • The human dimension of development is the only
    dimension of intrinsic worth. Jolly and
    Stewart (1986 3536)

The Impact of Oil (cont'd)
  • Findings of Human Rights Watch Report (1999)
  • The evidence . . . suggests that companies
    benefit from non- enforcement of laws regulating
    the oil industry, in ways directly prejudicial
    to the resident population.
  • Oil companies benefit from federal laws that
    deprive local communities of rights in relation
    to the land they treat as theirs.
  • Grievances . . . center on the appropriation
    or unremunerated use of community or family
    resources, health problems or damage to fishing,
    hunting or cultivation attributed to oil spills
    or gas flares, and other operations leading to a
    loss of livelihood as well as oil company
    failure to employ sufficient local people . . .
    or to generate benefits for local communities
    from the profits that they make.

Source Human Rights Watch, The Price of Oil, 1999
Protests and Demands
  • If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
    Those who profess to favor freedom and yet
    depreciate agitation are men who want crops
    without plowing up the ground they want rain
    without thunder and lightning. They want the
    ocean without the awful roar of its many
    waters... Power concedes nothing without a
    demand. It never did and it never will.
    Frederick Douglass

Protests and Demands Movement for the Survival
of Ogoni People
  • 1990 Ken Saro-Wiwa founds Movement
  • Ogoni Bill of Rights
  • demands political autonomy within the Nigerian
  • observes that the ruthless policies of successive
    Nigerian governments pushed the Ogoni to near
  • decries the forced disappearance of local
    languages, unacceptable environmental
    degradation, and lack of education, health
    services, and other social facilities
  • notes that in over 30 years of oil mining,
    Ogoniland provided the Nigerian government with
    revenues of 30 billion. In return, the Ogoni
    people have received nothing. . .

Protests and Demands The Kaiama Declaration
  • 1998 The Kaiama Declaration
  • presents the universally accepted position of the
    Ijaw people
  • recognizes the negative role of British
    colonialism (the Ijaw nation was unjustly
    aggregated as part of the Nigerian state)
  • outlines in detail how the quality of life has
    deteriorated as a result of official neglect,
    suppression, and marginalization
  • exposes the link between oil companies and the
    Nigerian governmenta union that causes untold
  • underlines the root causes of the now
    ecologically devastated Ijawland and observes
    that those in government, and civilian
    collaborators, continue to amass untold amounts
    of wealth at the expense of local communities . .

Protests and DemandsThe Ikwerre Rescue Charter
Cognizant of the fact that our right to
self-determination, resource ownership and
control cannot be actualized without the
abolition of all anti-people laws and policies,
we demand the immediate abolition of the
following laws The Land Use Act of 1978, The
Petroleum Act of 1969 . . . These objectionable
laws are repressive and cannot guarantee our
survival if they continue to exist...they deny us
the use of our God-given resources . . .
Failed Development Frameworks
  • 19601966 Niger Delta Development Board
  • 19721994 Niger Delta River Basin Authority
  • 19821991 The so-called 1.5Commission
  • 19921999 Oil and Minerals Producing Area
    Development Commission (OMPADEC)
  • 1998 Petro Trust Fund, Popoola Committee
  • 2000 Niger Delta Development Commission
  • 2008 Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs

Governance Federal, State, Local
  • 1999 Transition Election
  • 2003 National Election
  • 2007 National Election
  • Political violence
  • Proliferation of arms
  • Recruitment of thugs
  • Oil bunkering as compensation
  • Impunity
  • Primitive Accumulation/Money laundering
  • Extreme poverty in the midst of abundance

Multinational Oil Companies
  • Shell, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Agip, Totalfina
  • Local inhabitants no stake in oil companies
  • Lack of corporate social responsibility
  • Voluntary principles
  • Environmental degradation
  • Massive corruption
  • Militarization and arms proliferation
  • Lack of employment opportunities for local

  • Armed groups have increasingly mobilized
    against oil companies, declaring an absolute
    oil war.

Consequences (cont'd)
  • Mass protests, blockades, destruction of
    pipelines, and kidnapping of oil workers are
    common occurrences.
  • The region has become a breeding ground for arms
    trafficking, weapons proliferation, and criminal
    activitythis is especially so among youth.

Sources of Small Arms
  • West Africa 810 million
  • Nigeria 23 million
  • Economic Community of West African States
  • Europe
  • Ex-combatants and deserters
  • Poorly paid Peacekeeping troops
  • Police station raids
  • The situation is exacerbated by porous borders,
    lax export controls, state complicity, and
  • weak state institutions

Consequences (cont'd)
Source NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
Consequences (cont'd)
Source NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
Recommendations Government
  • Cessation of hostilities in Niger Delta
  • Immediate implementation of the Niger Delta
    Technical Committee Report and the Electoral
    Reform Report
  • Commitment to quality democracy and good
  • Effective funding for Niger Delta Ministry and
    the Niger Delta Development Commission
  • Independence of anti-corruption agency Economic
    and Financial Crimes Commission
  • Prosecution of former corrupt Niger Delta

Recommendations Government (continued)
  • Compliance of multinational oil companies
  • Rule of law and judicial integrity
  • Commitment to ECOWAS Mechanism on Small Arms
  • Investigation of allegations of complicity in
    oil bunkering by high-ranking politicians and
    the military
  • Prosecution of human rights violations by the
  • Reform and reorientation of the Nigerian police

RecommendationsMultinational Oil Companies
  • Shun corruption
  • Respect human rights
  • Establish links with local communities
  • Enforce corporate social responsibility
  • Adhere to Memorandum of Understanding
  • Implement Voluntary Principles
  • Respect the rule of law

Recommendations Civil Society
  • Eternal vigilance
  • Peace-building
  • Oversight and early warning
  • Capacity-building
  • Information sharing and advocacy
  • Coalition-building and networking

RecommendationsInternational Community
  • Commitment to people-centered democracy
  • Condition all foreign aid on quality of
  • Diplomatic pressure for dialogue
  • Increase support for bottom-up
  • Re-think AFRICOM and military-training practices
    for oppressive governments
  • Encourage oil companies to observe minimum
    standards of civilization
  • Discourage corruption and money laundering

Concluding Remarks
  • People first, oil second