CRISES IN THE OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITIES IN THE NIGER DELTA REGION AND ITS ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS

ABSTRACT
The Niger Delta region constitutes a number of ethnic nationalities which are rich in natural resources mainly in oil and gas reserves. However, the region has suffered extreme marginalization and neglect over the years despite its major contribution to the nations economy leading to agitations for better living standards by the people. The agitations have transformed from peaceful talks and dialogue to violence, unrest and chaos resulting to huge losses to the region and affecting the development process of the nation at large. This study examined the effect of the  Niger Delta crisis on  Evwreni and Otu-jeremi communities in Delta State. Data was collected through the administration of questionnaires, conduct of interviews and consultation of books and relevant documents. The data analysed revealed that the Niger Delta crisis has affected job creation, infrastructure provision and maintenance as well as increased criminal activities in the areas. Finally, the researcher recommended diversification of the economy, job creation and training programmes, strenghtening of security measures, provision of basic amenities amongst others as a solution to the crisis in the region. 


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1  Background to the Study
The Niger Delta region is widely known for its rich oil and gas reserves which contribute enormously to the economic prosperity of the Nigerian nation. The region has some unique characteristics which tend to make development difficult. It covers an area of about 70,000 square kilometres and is noted for its peculiar and difficult terrain. The whole area is transverse and crisscrossed by a large number of streams, swamps, canals and creeks. These peculiarities attracted the attention of even the colonial masters. Consequently, the British colonial government set up the Sir Henry Willinkk’s Commission to recommend the best strategies for the development of the region, which has the most difficult terrain in the country. When the Commission turned in its report in 1958, it specifically recommended that the Niger Delta region deserves special developmental attention and should therefore be made a special area to be developed directly by the Federal Government. It is pertinent to state that this was before the discovery of crude oil which is abundant in the region and later became the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Prior to the discovery of crude oil, people thrived on their traditional vocations of farming and fishing for which they depended on land, watershed and natural resources which were highly productive. However, since the commencement of oil exploration activities, the people have suffered gross neglect and deprivation over the years despite its contribution to the nation’s revenue base. The people in the region believe that the oil producing communities do not benefit as much as many other non-producing areas. According to Ikporukpo (2003), the type of federation operated in Nigeria is such that Government owns all oil resources and land. The revenue from oil is shared among all the 36 states of the federation and local government areas with very little consideration for those areas the oil is exploited.
Governments renewed commitment to addressing the age long neglect and above concerns of the Niger Delta region led to the establishment of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1993 and later the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000 with specific mandate on infrastructural development. This is outside the interventions put in place from independence. However, the people were not satisfied with the pace and quality of developmental projects and decided to form groups for peaceful protests. Gradually, the rather peaceful political struggle for resource control degenerated into violent agitations by the various militant insurgent groups that emerged to take over the struggle.
The World Health Organisation in articulating the effects of violence in its report of 2002, stated that the main victims of crisis are youths, adolescents and young adults. Developmental goals of nations can hardly be achieved in hostile and volatile environments. Due to the lingering crisis in the region, thousands of workers have lost their jobs with the oil companies because of decreased production and harsh operating environment. Blowing up of pipelines has worsened the problem of spillages, environmental pollution, degradation and further depletion of farmlands. Developmental processes have been stalled due to the unfriendly investment environment which scares away potential investors and infrastructural improvement. The crisis has led to increased poverty, crime rate and insecurity as well as sharp drop in production of oil and the nation’s revenue base.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The 2006 UNDP report states that in reality the Niger Delta region is suffering from administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment rate, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth, squalor and endemic conflict. The World Bank report (1995) concluded that despite the vast oil resources available, the region has remained poor. GNP per capita is below the national average of US$280 and educational levels are below the national average and particularly low for women. While 70% of Nigerian children attend primary school, this level drops to 30-40% in some parts of the Niger Delta.
On the basis of available evidence, the crisis in the Niger Delta arises from the injustice in the relations formed around oil extraction activities and injustice in the appropriation of the huge oil revenues from the area. It is thus a crisis of underdevelopment and the people in the region have been involved in demonstrations, petition writing, armed struggle, shutting of oil production activities, agitation for true federalism and resource control as well as compensation for ecological damage. However, this process is compounded by the entrance of kidnappers, criminals, syndicates and gangs who claim to be pursuing the interests of the people but their mode of operations does not give credence to this assertion.
The crisis has had major implications for development and socio-cultural relations in the Niger Delta in particular and in the nation as a whole as it is a known fact that development and crisis cannot go hand in hand. The crisis has fractured relations between the communities and the oil companies on one hand and the communities and the Nigerian state on the other. The outbreak of hostilities has taken its toll on the nation’s development. Since hostilities began, very few new investments have come into the area as no investor would want to invest in an environment that is so patently insecure such as the Niger Delta region. The crisis has had a negative effect on jobs and job creation in the Niger Delta as Oil companies withdraw from areas of operation and shut down production activities. This drift of investors has aggravated the unemployment problem which in turn has compounded the security problem of the Communities. The unemployed youths roam about the streets and involve themselves in criminal activities such as kidnapping, murder, vandalisation of pipelines and armed robbery. The safety of oil workers and members of their families have also been negatively affected. The crisis has resulted in huge revenue losses for the country and has created an atmosphere of uncertainty. An obvious consequence of the crisis is the further deterioration of infrastructure supply situation in communities. The fact that conflicts often result in the destruction of these facilities not only discourages their provision but also impacts on the available stock.  In effect, the Nigerian state, the oil companies and communities in the Niger Delta have all been affected by the crisis as developmental efforts have been thwarted. The Niger Delta crisis is not only a national problem but also a global problem deserving serious attention. Any disturbances in the flow of oil in Nigeria will impact negatively on the world economy. This calls for peace in the Niger Delta as national development is impossible when there is no peace. 


1.3 Objectives of the Study

      (a)   To determine the effect of the Niger Delta crisis on employment opportunities for youths in Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
      (b)   To ascertain the extent to which the Niger Delta crisis has affected infrastructure supply in Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
      (c)   To determine the contribution of the Niger Delta crisis on criminal activities in Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
      (d)  To provide adequate recommendations for a lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis.


1.4 Hypotheses

(a)                H0: The Niger Delta Crisis has not led to increased youth unemployment in    Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
H1: The Niger Delta crisis has led to increased youth unemployment in Evwreni and Otujeremi Communities.
(b)               H0: The Niger Delta Crisis has not impeded infrastructure provision and maintenance in Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
H1: The Niger Delta crisis impedes infrastructure provision and maintenance Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities.
(c)                H0: The Niger Delta Crisis has not led to increased criminal activities in Evwreni and Otu-jeremi Communities. 
H1: The Niger Delta crisis has led to increased criminal activities in Evwreni and Otujeremi Communities. 

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 63 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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