THE NIGER DELTA CRISIS: IT’S IMPACT ON NIGERIAN’S NATIONAL SECURITY
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUD
In 2002, an international observation proclaimed the Niger Delta as one of the most volatile regions of the world. This observation came on the heels of incessant crisis which the region have been witnessing for decades but which took alarming dimension in loosing years of the 1990’s and the opening years of the new millennium. The region from one decade to another has witnessed unprecedented crisis which revolve round political and most importantly economic factors. Also from one decade to another the nature and dynamics of crisis in the region have changed, the transformations which the crisis took from the one period to another have paved way for its institutionalization in the history of the region and Nigeria in general.1 If the institutionalization in the history of the Niger Delta crisis in the politics and economy of the country is something to discuss, the threat which it has been posing and still posing to domestic and international security of the Nigerian nation state is an aspect which requires critical academic enquiry.
A systematic analysis of the crisis is informed by my intention to identify the changing dynamics of what constitutes national security over the years and how the nation state of Nigeria have been contending with the threat which the Niger Delta crisis is posing to the so called national security. National security questions is a complex of political, legal, social, economic, ideological and military problems that arises in the course of a people struggling for political and economic independence and for the establishment of equal and friendly relations with other people in the bilateral and international affairs.
It is imperative to see how regional based crisis affect the survival of the entire country and how the political entity called Nigeria have been dealing with the changing dynamics of the crisis, the current study therefore understands that the concept of national security is fluid and dynamic. All nations of the world contend and will continue to contend with the challenges arising from the national security. To Nigeria, the complicated nature of the Niger Delta crisis poses serious and enduring threat to the fragile nature of Nigerian democracy and the ever volatile national security.
What this work explores is the complexity involved in the maintenance of national security which arose as a result of the crisis in the Niger Delta. For the purpose of this research, the concept of National Security questions and the contributions of Niger Delta crisis are both international and domestic in nature.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMS
In this work, I attempt to answer the entire questions of the place of crude oil in the escalation and the reduction of the Niger Delta crisis. The significance of the other exigencies or factors in the crisis? The contributions of the Multinational Corporation and different political ferments in the region? The Niger Delta crisis cannot be understood without a critical understanding of the relationship between individual communities on the one hand and with the federal government on the other hand which revolve round the control of resources and retarded infrastructural, economic and social development in the region.
To what extents have the crisis constitutes threats to national security? Put differently, what is the threat which the crisis is posing to the Nigeria’s nascent democracy? How crisis have metamorphosed in the all-embracing concept of national security is also analyzed and the entire attempts made by the federal government to preserve legitimacy in the name of the fundamental national security are not left undiscussed.
Niger Delta crisis at every point in time have threatened the primacy responsibility of the government in terms of security of lives and properties and the preservation of oneness of Nigeria as a single political entity.2 National security transcends the primary role of the government in the protection of lives and properties. It also involves the international security and sovereignty. The gagging question is: is the Niger Delta crisis posing any threat to the international security and sovereignty of the Nigerian nation?
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
National security questions and the role played by the Niger Delta crisis is theme which requires adequate scholarly attention.
The objective of this study therefore are
To look at how the Niger Delta crisis affects Nigerian national security. To locate the impact of the Niger Delta crisis within the framework of its implication of national security. To see how regional based crisis affect the survival of the entire country. To identify the changing dynamics and what constitutes nationals security over the years and how the nation state of Nigeria has been contending with the crisis. The place of rude oil in the escalation and in the reduction of the Niger Delta crisis. The significance of the other exigencies or factors in the crisis. The contribution of the multination corporation and different political ferments in the regions.
The justification for this work can best be appreciated from two major perspectives namely, the need to carryout a critical academic analysis of he origin of the Nigeria Delta Crisis and an appraisal of the impact of the Niger Delta Crisis on national security, hence the changing dynamics of the crisis and the high degree of internationalization which its taken in recent years. The internationalization of the Niger Delta Crisis is as old as the history of the crisis itself; however, in recent years the concern of the international community is getting higher and higher.
1.5 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This work focuses on the threat which the Niger Delta Crisis is posing to national security of Nigeria, no aspect of national security question can be understood in isolation, this is because as earlier mentioned the concept of national security is a very fluid one and deeply rooted in the history of Nigeria, the nature and dynamics also change in accordance with the history of the national and that of Niger Delta Crisis, it is against this background that the study carries out comparative analysis of how Niger Delta related crisis and other regional and non regional crisis are affecting national security, comparative approach provides the necessary yardstick of measuring the vicissitude of our case study. Apart from enhancing our understanding of the vicissitudes of the Niger Delta crisis and national security, discourse of some related crisis will provide us with the necessary tool, concept, model and methodology of analysis.
One of the best ways of achieving the desired result in the discourse of Niger Delta crisis and national security is to look at it from the historical perspective hence history is prerequisite to a good understanding of contemporary phenomenon. The complexity of the Niger-Delta crisis and national security will make its analysis from a purely contemporary perspective to be inadequate, it is in the light of this, that the Niger Delta Crisis is traced from the 19th century when the numerous cit-states in the region were at longer head with one another over the control of production and exchange of palm oil down to the period of British invasion, the contribution of colonial rule cannot be overemphasized, the changing dynamics in the relations between one Niger Delta community and the other have to be understood within the framework of pre-existing relations.2 the discovery of crude oil at the tail end of the colonial rule is absolutely central to this discourse because it was the crisis and compromise connected with the exploitation of crude oil that gave the region it current stigmatization as one of the most volatile regions of the world.3
The impact of Niger Delta Crisis reflects in virtually all aspect of the socio-cultural economic and political life of the people for the purpose of this research and as I have mentioned above, I will focus on the impact which the crisis is having on national security and this cannot be understood without the knowledge of other impacts, so, occasional references will be made to other impacts of the crisis which have direct correlation on national security.
The limitations of this study is the volatile nature of the subject, materials used for academic research requires cross examination because they all have their limitations, the limitations of materials used for this work can best be appreciated against the stand point of the fact that subjects related to crisis most importantly in the Niger Delta is fluid, the fact that I address the aspect of national security as it relates to the crisis in Niger Delta makes our discourse the one which require expertise in the collection, selection, analysis and in fact interpretation of materials All the groups in the Niger Delta who were interviewed sometimes provides doctored information related to the problems under examination, government officials, private workers, militants and anti-Niger Delta groups also presented issues the ways it best known to them. 4 Similar trend could be noticed in several newspapers’ reports and even published works on Niger Delta Crisis and national security.5
This is why all materials for academic research have their own limitations and have to be subjected to critical evaluation and security. It is in the light if this that cross-examination of data ultimately brings about judicious interpretation of facts as it is since national security issues have profound influence in determining the future of the oneness of the country. This study adopts thematic and chronological approaches, chronologically, it is important that we understand how Niger Delta Crisis and national security has unfolded from one period to another and the numerous forms and dimensions which therefore, assist in providing a one by one or step by step analysis of the problems, aspect of this work which will be thematically discussed, are the ones related to the ways crisis have been affecting national security some of which are basically exposition.
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
In this work, I adopted a multicultural and multidisciplinary approach, the need for multicultural approach stems from the fact that themes related to peace and conflicts studies in African can only be adequately researched by adopting a lot of models, concepts and methodology from different but related academic and intellectual persuasion. Also, multidisciplinary approach is the latest trend and one of the best ways of showing relevance of once discipline to several other disciplines, this is why I draw most of my evidence from history, political science, strategic studies, conflict studies and other related disciplines.
At this point, it is worthy of note to states that this work is basically a historical and contemporary analysis of Niger Delta Crisis and national security, the tradition methods of gathering information, i.e. primary and secondary sources is adopted. In the category of the primary sources that are pivotal to this work are: Archival materials, Newspapers on national security, Oral interview, MPA 1 and II classes’ discussions e.t.c. A sizeable percentage of secondary sources that is used came from published and unpublished works which include Books, Articles in journals e.t.c. that are related to Niger Delta and national security in the 19th,20th and 21st centuries, however, a greater percentage of the materials used for this work came from extensive fieldwork in the region and newspaper cuttings on themes related to national security and the Niger Delta Crisis, this is significant going by the pan citing of published work on peace and conflict studies in Nigeria
1. British Broadcasting Corporation’s Annual broadcast Report for the year 2001 and 2003 respectively.
2. Nigeria’s Niger Delta Crisis: Root causes of Peacelessness (EPU Research paper issue 07/07 inline)
3. Oyegun Links Niger Delta Crisis to Revenue Allocation, Federalism (August, 17th 2008 on line)
4. Research Control Agitation from unusual quarters, (the Punch Newspaper, Monday November, 9th 2009).
5. The Punch Newspaper, June, 11the 2007, pg. 9.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The Federal government seems to believe that the intervention agencies, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is the way out but, with the eventual composition of the Niger Delta Technical Committee (NDTC) and ht establishment of the Ministry of Niger Delta, the government appears to have found the courage to confront the problems. The decision to create a ministry has understandably attracted a lot of comments both in favour and against. However, most people from the Niger Delta welcome the plan and described the move as a water-shed in the search for an enduring peace in the oil-rich, but neglected geo-political zone.
The Delta State government on her part has advocated a “Road Map to Peace” as the way forward for the Western Niger Delta. Lasting peace cannot take place in the midst of persuasive and deep poverty and gross social and economic inequalities. In the absence of peace, economic growth, developments are in some way from an interactive triangle. It would be noteworthy that governance plays a major role in the creation of enabling environment of peace, security and stability. There must be genuine intentions. Dealing alone with such issues of negative peace like hijacking kidnapping, sabotage and bunkering will not appraise the root causes of the conflict, genuine peace effort in the Niger Delta should involve the participation of all stakeholders in the peace building process, it is now obvious that for any development action, an understanding of the institutional conditions in which the action will take place should be a priority. Infacts, an appropriate starting point towards achieving enduring peace in the region should efforts geared toward preventing an escalation of the conflict at same time not ignoring the interests and aspirations of the people. Sustainable peace in the region should embrace options for positive issues of poverty, environmental devastation, political, economic and social justice, low level of literacy and unemployed. This forms the core of human security in the region. These in the Niger Delta have never been pressing than now.
Many Nigerians believe that the country should have toe the line of the sage, Chief Awolowo, control of whatever resources bequeathed to then by nature and that such states should be ready to surrender a percentage of such God-given resources to the centre for the benefit of other entities making up the country.
It is believed that the non-adherence of Nigerian leaders to the wise counsel of chief Awolowo is at the root of the conflagration in the Niger Delta today. Had the people of Niger Delta been allowed to take control of oil, Northerners, their agricultural prowess, Easterners, their ingenuity in commerce and Westerners, their advantage in Western education, while they collectively surrendered an agreed percentage to the centre, the problems in the Niger Delta today would not have arisen.
Consequently, as Nigerians await the report of the Niger Delta Technical Committee, there is need for the Nigerian state to adopt a marshal plan for the reconstruction and development of the region.
A programme for resolving the Niger Delta situation must first be developed in quiet and secret discussions with the militants, the leaders and other stakeholders of the region. It is therefore counter productive to demonize all the militants and their leaders. Rather the Federal Government must engage the militants in productive dialogue in good faith as a military option is not the solution to the issue.
It is one thing to create a ministry but another thing for the ministry to function and achieve results for the benefits of the greater number of people. Serious attentions must be given or paid to the ministry of Niger Delta and should not be used for creating jobs for people who may not have the interest of the generality of the Niger Delta at heart..