Paper Title
OIL POLITICS AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AMNESTY PROGRAMME IN THE NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA, 2009-2017
Author
Emeka Nwanze, Anthony Obingene & Ikechukwu Njeze
Section
Law, Leadership, and Social Sciences
Abstract

The problem in the Niger Delta borders on who controls the oil wealth. The Federal Government that controls the oil sector could not solve the consequential problems facing the region due to the nature and character of the Nigerian state, as well as the asymmetrical capital and technological relationship between the multinational oil companies and the Nigeria government. In 2009, the government of President Yar’ Adua introduced amnesty programme in which militants in the Niger Delta were given an opportunity to surrender their arms so as to reduce the unrest in the region and accelerate economic development of Nigeria. In return for accepting the amnesty offer, the Federal Government embarked on a number of activities aimed at rehabilitating, demobilizing and reintegrating the ex-militants. This study, therefore, investigates the impact of oil politics on the implementation of the Amnesty programme. Utilizing the Marxian political economy theory, survey and documentary methods, and content analysis, the study noted that the implementation of disarmament programme has led to the increase in oil production in Nigeria. The study also observed that the implementation of demobilization programme has enhanced security situation in the Niger Delta. The study recommends, among others, that the Federal Government should endeavour to establish National Minorities Commission and the Niger Delta Infrastructure Intervention Development Fund to complement the implementation of the Amnesty programme.

Keywords
oil politics, amnesty programme, disarmament, demobilization, militancy

Introduction

By geo-political definition, the Niger Delta comprises six states of the South-South namely: Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers; and three others - Ondo (South Western Nigeria), Abia and Imo States (South East). Together, these states are referred to as oil producing states. The region is blessed with a large concentration of oil deposits, fertile agricultural land, forest, rivers, creeks and coastal waters teaming with fish and sundry water creatures. There are no fewer than 19 oil companies producing from about 150 oil fields, ninety percent of which is domiciled in Niger Delta (Okonta & Douglas, 2001).

Since the discovery of oil in commercial quantity by Shell in Olobiri, a community in the present day Bayelsa State in 1956, revenue from the sale of oil mined in the Niger Delta region is said to account for “95 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and about one-fourth of her gross domestic products” (Okonta & Douglas, 2001, p. 18). On account of this, Nigeria was ranked the world’s twelfth biggest producer of crude oil, and one of the leading crude oil producers in Africa (EIA, 2009).  

In the light of the foregoing, it was expected that oil exploration and exploitation would bring economic prosperity to the region. Unfortunately, it appears to have brought a curse instead of economic prosperity to the people of the region. According to Ibeanu and Luckdham (2006) Niger Delta has remained one of the most impoverished and underdeveloped part of the country with 70 percent of the inhabitants still living a rural and subsistent existence characterized by a total absence of such basic infrastructural facilities as pipe borne water, accessible roads. Ibeanu and Luckdham further observed that the people of the region have persistently suffered from debilitating poverty, malnutrition and diseases, within their environment, which constitute their major source of livelihood, negatively affected by the incessant excessive oil spillage. Rather than development, oil exploration and exploitation has deepened poverty and undermined development in the region. Exploitation of crude oil and natural gas in the Niger Delta has equally caused irredeemable ecological devastation to the Niger Delta land over the years.

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