THE NIGERIA CRUDE OIL DILEMMA IN THE NIGER-DELTA

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The Niger-Delta region is mostly riverine areas in Nigeria, with the predominantly traditional occupation of fishing and farming for its people as a consequence of their geographical location. The Nigeria oil was discovered in 1956 by Shell-BP at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta region which comprises of about nine administrative states namely; Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Imo and Rivers State, and recently in Ondo state. Crude oil is a natural endowment in a particular community, with its exploitation and exploration; it is expected to be of enormous benefit to such community and its commons, but instead, it has been a dilemma for the Niger-Delta region. Having visited the region in 2014, I understand the complexity of the impact of crude oil deposit regarding the advantages and disadvantages on the macro economy of Nigeria as a nation and the micro economy of the region.

The macro benefit to the Nigeria economy was an oil revenue of about $26billion in 2016. This revenue has not only mean income for the people of Nigeria but also a source of foreign exchange that aid business between Nigeria and the international world. Oil revenue has empowered some Nigerians and has boosted the Nigeria economy by job creation; increase hospitality businesses, influenced by the presence of oil workers and expatriate. While at the micro level in the region, the majority of the oil companies in the Niger-Delta have benefits for education regarding their renewable scholarship scheme for undergraduate and or postgraduate students who are predominantly citizens of the regions. Likewise, crude oil brought about some benefits to career development for the inhabitants of the region, because most of them are hired and trained on the job by oil companies in their region.

 

 scholarship for Niger Delta indigene 

 

For the people of this region, these benefits mean nothing but dare poverty and lack of development fostered by government corruption. The inhabitants of the area have been subject to untold hardship through oil pollution, deforestation, aquatic and fishery destruction, militant chaos and insecurity as a result of oil exploration. As it is easy to blame the multinational oil companies operating in this region, it is the Nigeria government that should bear the greater blame for neglecting its people. For example, considering the detrimental effect on the environmental and health of the Niger-Delta people, the region has witnessed an average of two oil spills a day for the past three decades, making it one of the most polluted places on Earth. The people of these communities are left with nothing but damaged farmland and polluted rivers with no significant social amenities like electricity, good roads, potable drinking water, and other basic needs. Also, the locals of these oil blessed communities are still living in primitive rural conditions while multinational oil company staffs and expatriates reside in an area with high technology and sophisticated facilities within the same Niger-Delta.

 

environmental degradation in the Niger Delta: Oil Spillage

unsafe water for the community

 

The people believed the government had neglected them; the Transnational Oil Companies are nonchalant to the environmental pollution caused by their operations and the revenue generation from exploration and exploitation of their commonwealth is being channelled to develop other regions of the country like Lagos and Abuja at the detriment of the Niger-Delta region. And being the “goose that laid the golden egg”, they decide it is time to take what belongs to them and have autonomy over their resources and destiny, which led to the birth of the “Niger Delta Militants“. But regrettably, they are considered to be an association of criminals by the Nigeria government unlike late Ken Saro-Wiwa who was considered political activist that campaigned against unfairness to the people of Niger Delta. Many of the locals in the region have been jailed, maimed, killed, raped and abused during the confrontation with the Nigerian military. For example, villages like Odi and Ogoniland have been destroyed by the Nigerian army during counter-insurgency response with the use of excessive force and military measures.

The kidnapping and oil bunkering by the militants, though considered forceful and unlawful has brought some benefits to their community in terms of local revenue, jobs, community wellbeing and investment in the development; private school, hospital, housing and transportation businesses owned by the militant’s group members. Though, the aim of these militants is to demand their share of the oil wealth, to elevate their community and provide for their kinsmen. However, their actions have had a trickle-down negative effect on the community regarding the direct impact of conflict, underdevelopment, lost of businesses and instability that has characterised the region since the discovery of crude oil. Hence, the endowment of the region with oil and gas as natural resources and a commonwealth of the people of the region have turned out to be a dilemma yet to be resolved.

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