Enclosure on commons – a modern day example.


The ongoing Niger-Delta crisis is considered by many to be a consequence of the geopolitical structure of Nigeria; however, “enclosure on commons” is clearly evident in this crisis.

From a firsthand perspective, I experienced some of the social unrest caused by the marginalized Ogoni people as they fought for resources they commonly share. As they saw it, their lands, streams and even plantations enjoyed through many generations were violated by multi-national oil companies in collusion with the government.

This exploitation led to;

  • Highly polluted streams (dangerous for drinking or general use).
  • Wide spread poverty given that fishing is a major source of livelihood.
  • Lack of land for cultivation, thereby resulting in widespread hunger and limiting construction of much needed infrastructure and common social amenities.
  • Disunity amongst commons as the limited acres of land will have to be viciously fought for by the vast majority.
  • Socio-political unrest as these disenfranchised groups formed locally organised militia with the aim of gaining attention of the government.

It has been observed that in much of these exploited and resource depleted communities, the only evidence of oil exploration are rotten containers, pipes and machinery used for this process.

This situation is clearly inhumane and until the commons ( in this case the Ogoni people) are allowed to enjoy what they commonly own or restitution is made for what have been lost, the  potential for more chaos  and  tragedy  remains undiminished.


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One Response to “Enclosure on commons – a modern day example.”

  1. diatezuam Says:

    The Niger Delta lies in the south of the country and consists of nine states and nearly 70,000 square kilometers of land and waterways. This area accounts for over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s known gas and oil reserves, which in turn accounted for nearly 80 per cent of total government revenues. As Nigeria’s economic powerhouse, the Delta is important to the country’s economic standing, as well as to the politicians who benefit from the incoming revenue.
    Mismanagement of oil revenues since independence, corruption, the failure to redistribute oil wealth, the utter lack of development in the Delta, and environmental damage arising from oil related exploration
    related activities have hardened the resolve of those living in the region to agitate for change, and increased popular support for those groups fighting for a better deal. Militancy has grown in the Delta in response to the continued lack of attention to the basic needs of the population: Social instability, poor local governance, competition for economic resources and environmental degradation has taken a tol……The Delta today is a place of frustrated expectation and deep-rooted mistrust….[where] [1] ong years of neglect and conflict have fostered a siege mentality (UNDP, 2006, P. 16) [1].
    The grievance of those living in the Delta are well founded. The population suffers from environmental contamination resulting from the operations of oil companies and the oil bunkering (illegal tapping of oil
    pipelines) of armed groups. Oil spills and gas flaring have negatively affected agricultural land, water sources, and air quality. In return, the population has received very little from the government, which benefits from the high revenues earned from selling oil overseas. Legally, the population has no control over the oil that sits beneath their land, and no claim to the profits accrued through its sale.

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