Degradation of Land due to Exploration of the Commons


I visited a friend in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria few year ago and for the first time what I saw that happening in the region scared me. Is it degradation of land , water pollution or the prevailing  sickness in the community, the abject poverty and the impending danger looming over the community? with over 600billion dollars estimated as generated income from the region since the 1960s. Majority of the Niger Delta population liven in abject poverty. You will not understand the extent of damage caused by oil companies and administrative neglect of Nigerian government to the ecosystem and socio economic development of the people of the Niger delta region until you visit the area. Anyone can stay at the corner of their house in other part of Nigeria or the world  and judge the people of violence, the truth is that the situation and condition of this region are under reported, swept under carpet and treat as trivial things by the government  and the Oil companies.

My friend said the situation of the community was not like this three decades ago. According to him, the people depend on the land for agriculture, the river for fishing and the bush for collection of forest products for livelihood. But everything changed when Oil exploration started. Sadly, ‘the government and private multinational Oil companies took control of the community’s common resources- land, water, oil and left them in the cold  with nothing!’ he explained . They are now strangers on their own land. The people do not know how many barrels of oil are on their fishing water and farmland. But it I evident that both the government and the Oil multinational companies reap financial benefit from drilling and refining of crude oil in the community; while the people bear the burden of loosing their farmland, rivers, health  and community, not only today but also in the future. From  my visit, the condition of the community is in contrast  with the wealth generated by Oil. The community lack clean water and air, lack basic social amenities and have no means of livelihood. Oil spills, gas flaring, waste dumping has damaged the soil, water and air quality, displacing hundreds of thousands of families. The question is can we say these Nigerian communities is doomed for Hardin’s tragedy of the commons? and  if it is so, is there any to avoid it? The Ibeno communities of Niger Delta area have been fighting the course for more than three decades with no signs of victory. The aquatic life is endangered by emulsification of the water caused when evaporation of the volatile low molecular weight components effect aerial life. In the region, about 390 millions tons of C02 emission annually from flaring gas has exceeded the Kyoto Protocol  standard and has a global impact on climate change.

Marx and other classicists believe that extension of market is a catalyst for economic growth, the analysis of Marx’s view is based on historical back ground of a society. The production should adapt and consider the social, political and spiritual aspects of the community life to be successful. The disadvantage – ‘lack’ (poverty)  in developing countries make the entry of these multinational companies gained entry into these communities in the first instance. (Cave, 1996).



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