STATE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION IN THE NIGER DELTA: A FOCUS ON THE AMNESTY PROGRAMME OF THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT
The major concern of this research work is to assess the role of the State and conflict resolution in the Niger Delta, with a focus on the Amnesty programme of the Nigerian Government. Utilizing the conflict Resolution theory, the study contends that the Presidential Amnesty to the Niger Delta militants is basically oriented towards enhancing the security situation in the Niger Delta region and by so doing
increase the daily production of crude oil. The study adopts observation technique and secondary sources of data in order to establish and highlight the true picture.
Our findings revealed that, successive governments have been insensitive to the plight of the people of the region. To this end, the study contends that for the benefit inherent in the Amnesty program to be sustained, the Government should sincerely address the root causes of the crises in the area which essentially border on the age-long injustices perpetrated against the region by the multinational oil
BACKGROUND OF STUDY
There is no one universally accepted definition of the state as scholars have viewed and described the concept in several ways. Max Weber (2004:33) the foremost German sociologist defines the state as “that form of human community that successfully lays claim to the monopoly of legitimate physical violence within a particularterritory”.
In view of this, state’s exclusive monopoly of legitimate exercise of force and sovereignty as already established, it follows that all its actions and policies are authoritative as it carries the force of law and hence are binding on all persons, groups and institutions within its territory. But given the fact of the impossibility of ensuring equality in its distributive functions and activities, it follows that those persons and groups who are not favoured, would, naturally feel unhappy and somewhat displeased and disenchanted, not only against the state and its officials and institutions, but also against those persons and groups that are favoured or assumed to be favoured by the state’s distributive system. In this way,
conflicts/conflict situation emerged both between the disaffected persons/groups and the state on the one hand, and between the disaffected persons/groups and those that were favoured, on the other hand.
Conflicts refer to contradictions arising from differences in interest, idea, ideologies, orientation and precipitous tendencies of the people contradictions are inherent at all levels of social and economic interactions of the human race. It may therefore exist at the individual, groups, institution, regional, national and international levels. Conflicts it thus a pervasive phenomenon in human relationships and has been seen as the basic unit for understanding social existence (Nnoli 1998:3-5). Niger delta is an example par excellence of this contradiction, which has become an endemic feature of national life ever since the penetration of multinational corporations in the age of mercantilism (Dike, Quoted in Ikejiani-
Clark (ed) (2009). The Niger Delta region comprises of sex states in the south-South geopolitical zone. These are Cross River, Delta, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa and Edo. However, for the purposes of revenue sharing, states like Ondo, Abia and Imo are among the oil producing states which also are among the Niger Delta region.
The Niger Delta, which occupies the landmass of 70,000 square kilometers, an area of high ecological value. These states are made up of about 500 densely populated rural ethnic minority communities (Okoh & Egbon 1999:410), some of which have a long history, dating back to colonial times, of what has generally been understood as interethnic conflicts. The people of the Niger Delta are polygamous,
and warlike. The annual festivals of many often led to provocations that result in violent conflicts. The people are mainly fishermen, but small numbers are farmers.
The Niger delta region in Nigeria is believed to be the world third largest mangrove and fresh swamp.
The Niger Delta region oil was first discovered in 1956 at Oloibiri in present Bayelsa State. The oil industry plays a pivotal role in the overall transformation of the political economy of the Nigerian state and the metropolitan bourgeoisie.
These considerable natural resources notwithstanding, Niger Delta region is one of the most impoverish and underdeveloped part of the country. About seventy percent of the inhabitants still live in rural areas and subsistence existence characterized by a complete absence of such basic facilities as pipe-born water, electricity and motorable roads. They are weighed down by debilitating poverty; malnutrition and
diseases (Okonta & Douglas, 2009:19). Their environment have been negatively affected, rivers have been damage by excessive oil spillage thereby curtailing the people’s source of livelihood.
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