OIL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AND ILLEGAL OIL BUNKERING IN NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA, 1999-2011

87

Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)

ABSTRACT    

Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria in 1956, reports of plunder, corruption and primitive
accumulation of capital have dominated the management of oil resources by the Nigerian state
in alliance with oil corporations, excluding the people from benefit of oil wealth. This study,
therefore, is an examination of how centralised management of oil resources which concentrated
the benefits of oil wealth in the hands of a very few privileged persons, led to chronic
opportunism and criminality in the form of illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region
between 1999 and 2011. It set as its objectives the task of interrogating the nexus between
allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class and oil banditry in the Niger Delta; the
connections between protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation and the
proliferation of illegal refineries and oil transactions in the region; and the relationship between
security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and sustenance of an
international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters. The study adopted the
political economy theoretical framework. Data were generated through the qualitative
descriptive methodology and applied the ex-post-facto research design. The study found that
patronage allocation of oil blocks in ways that enriched the ruling class and provided oil
corporations with hefty profits led oil host communities in the Niger Delta to engage in oil
banditry. Protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to the
proliferation of artisanal refining of stolen crude oil and illicit oil transactions in the region.
Leakages in the security control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustained an
international market for stolen crude oil and petroleum products in Nigerian coastal waters. The
study recommended, among others, government increase of the percentage allocation of oil
revenues to the Niger Delta states from the current 13% to 25% derivation and the development
of a comprehensive database of oil blocks awarded since the discovery of oil in Nigeria.

                                                                        

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria is the jewel in the African oil crown, and yet best exemplifies what is now
termed ‘oil paradox’ in media, policy and academic discourses on oil resources management
(Udosen, Etok and George, 2009; Victor, 2008; Obi, 2004). Nigeria is the world’s twelfth, Sub-
Saharan Africa’s largest producer of crude oil, and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries’ (OPEC) second biggest oil exporter as of July 2011 (Salau, 2011). The rise of
Nigeria as a strategic player in the world oil geopolitics has been dramatic. In the late 1950s
petroleum output was insignificant, amounting to less than 2 per cent of total exports. Between
“1960 and 1973, however, oil output exploded from just over 5 million to over 600 million
barrels. Government oil-revenues in turn accelerated from 66 million naira in 1970 to over 10
billion in 1980” (Watts, 2008:47). Although it is difficult to provide a definite figure on how
much Nigeria has generated from the sale of crude oil in the last 50 years, it was conservatively
estimated in 2008 to be about N30 trillion (naira) or $250 billion (Tell, 2008).
This unprecedented wealth however has not translated to significant improvement in the
living conditions of vast majority of its population, especially people of the oil bearing
communities of the Niger Delta region. Between 1970 and 2000, for instance, the number of
people subsisting on less than one dollar a day in Nigeria grew from 36 per cent to more than
70 per cent, from 19 million to a staggering 90 million (Zalik and Watts, 2006). Similarly,
“over the period 1965-2004, the per capita income in Nigeria fell from $250 to $212, leading
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to conclude that huge oil revenue has not improved the
standard of living in the country” (Sala-i-Martin and Subramanian, 2003:4). The 2011 United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report placed Nigeria 156 out of 187 countries in an
assessment of Human Development Indicators (UNDP, 2011). Nigeria’s categorisation among
the Low Human Development Countries undoubtedly reflects the disturbing impoverished life
lived daily by most of its 160 million people, a reality that is completely at variance with the
abundance of oil wealth.
This situation portends that successive military and civilian administrations in Nigeria
have proved incapable of effectively utilising oil windfalls to promote development and living
standard of the citizens. At independence in 1960, oil revenue was quite insignificant to affect
politics in a substantive way. The “major early problems centred on the struggles between the
three major ethnic groups – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo – which predominated in the
Northern, Western, and Eastern administrative regions, respectively” (Thurber et al., 2010:8-
11). By 1966, however, oil-related considerations had started to noticeably affect the country’s
political economy. First was the exacerbation of “political competition for state power among
the dominant ethnic groups, since the state can be used to direct oil resources produced in the
ethnic minority homelands of the Niger Delta to their benefits” (Ibaba, 2008:18). This
manifested in the manipulations of revenue allocation formula to satisfy ethno-regional
interests. For instance, sections 134(1) and 140(1) of the 1960 and 1963 constitutions provided
for a derivation principle of 50 per cent (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1960,
1963). Because agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, this provision was
adhered to, since it favoured the ethnic majorities whose homelands were host to the cash crops
of cocoa, groundnut, and palm oil that generated the dominant share of national revenues.
However, “as oil displaced agriculture as the productive base of the economy, the derivation
principle was whittled down from 50 per cent to 45 per cent in 1975, and later to 1.5 per cent in
1982” (Ibaba, 2008:18). This created feelings of marginalisation, deprivation and political
domination among the ethnic minority groups in the Niger Delta from whose land oil is
exploited.
Second, the weakening of the derivation principle ensured the transfer of oil wealth out
of the Niger Delta to the centre. As oil revenue rose due to the quadrupling of oil prices in
1973-1974, a culture of profligacy dominated the centre in particular and the country at large.
The economic policy of the then General Yakubu Gowon government, embarked on tax cuts,
salaries and wages increase, and Naira appreciation against foreign currencies. Budgets
ballooned, making the government heavily dependent on oil. As oil revenues fuelled the rise of
federal subventions to states and precariously to individuals, the federal government soon
became the centre of political struggle. The declining popularity of the Gowon government as a
result of long sojourn in power and indefinite date for handover to civilian government
precipitated the overthrow of his government by General Murtala Mohammed. The new
military regime promised to restore financial discipline and prudent management of the oilbased
economy. General Mohammed was killed on February 1976, and he was succeeded by
General Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed his plan of an orderly transfer of power to civilian
administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on 1 October 1979.
The civilian government of Shehu Shagari in turn proved profligate and incompetent in
managing the oil wealth. This precipitated the build-up of the nation’s foreign debt from a
lowly N3 billion (naira) in 1979 to a staggering N21 billion by the fall of 1983, “even though it
was during Shagari’s regime that the country earned its highest revenue ever from the sales of
crude oil” (Agedah, 1993:18). His regime was overthrown by the military coup of Muhammadu
Buhari. The regime of General Buhari promised major reforms, but his government fared little
better than its predecessor in the management of the nation’s oil wealth, and was overthrown by
yet another military coup in 1985 led by General Ibrahim Babangida. General Babangida’s
regime became the apogee of corruption in the history of the nation, as he was accused of
mismanaging the $12.4 billion oil windfall during the 1990 Gulf war (African Forum and
Network on Debt and Development, 2007; Daily Independent, 2010).
When General Sani Abacha took over power in another military coup in 1993, the
pattern of mismanagement of oil wealth continued. Abacha’s regime avoided coup plots
through bribing of army generals and discretionary allocation of oil blocks to cronies and
regional elites (Furtune Business, 2010). With few effective mechanisms for monitoring receipt
and appropriation of oil windfall in place, corruption developed on a massive scale, yielding
huge rewards for those connected to government (Thurber et al., 2010). Thus, reports of
plunder, corruption and primitive accumulation of capital have dominated the management of
oil resources by the Nigerian governments in alliance with oil corporations, excluding the
people from the political process. This was the case all through the regimes of General
Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Mohammad Buhari, General Ibrahim
Babangida, General Abacha, and General Abdulsalami Abubakar. It was reported, for instance,
that over $400 billion from oil wealth have been badly managed by the country’s elite between
1960 and 1999 (Ibrahim, 2010).
While the decline persisted in the many years of military rule, the inception of civilian
rule in 1999 was perceived as a watershed for fundamental reversal of the decline and
transformation of Nigeria’s ailing political economy. Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999
when Olusegun Obasanjo was elected ended almost 33 years of military rule (from 1966 until
1999) excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979 and 1983). The expectations of
Nigerians were that the inauguration of civil rule would mark a major departure in the way oil
resources is managed. The expectation was that transparent and accountable use of huge
earnings from oil would yield greater ‘democratic dividends’ and benefits to the citizen.
In the last 12 years of civilian rule, the oil sector has been reduced to an avenue for
unbridled and mindless looting of the nation’s resources. The Nigerian government has grossed
in far more income between 1999 and 2010 than the prior 35 years before 1999. Gross
domestic product (GDP) jumped from $90 billion in 1998 to about $350 billion in 2009 alone
(Gabriel, et al, 2012). Yet on Human Development Index, Nigeria remains among the most
impoverished nations on earth, with an estimated 79 million of its 160 million people living
below the poverty level. The combination of bad governance and greed have led to the
mismanagement of the political and economic affairs of the Nigerian state, depriving Nigerians
of good standard of living which abundant oil wealth might have brought.
Consequently, the allocation of resources and opportunities in ways that strengthen the
position, wealth, influence and affluence of those in power, excluding the citizens and their
huge expectations, under the emergent civilian dispensation, created opportunism and
criminality, particularly among oil host communities in the Niger Delta. Given the skewed
management of oil wealth in favour of the ruling class, some individuals and oil host
communities have resorted to, or facilitated, illicit oil transactions such as oil theft and artisanal
refining of oil to benefit from the oil wealth. As a result, illegal oil bunkering, which entails,
the supplying and loading of ships with stolen crude oil or petroleum products without requisite
statutory licenses in violation of existing laws and guidelines regulating shipping, oil
transaction and national security, had become a major economic crime pervasive in Nigeria’s
Niger Delta region.
The period between 1999 and 2011 was characterised by redoubled efforts at combating
threats perpetrated within, or facilitated through, Nigeria’s territorial waters, especially the
upsurge in vandalisation of oil infrastructure, smuggling of crude or refined oil as well as the
disruption of operations of river transport and oil service companies by some aggrieved
community youths in the Niger Delta (Shipping Position, 2011). While the administration of
President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 set up the Special Security Committee on Oil producing
Areas to among others identify the causes of illegal oil bunkering (pipeline vandalisation), the
administration of (late) President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also set up a committee, chaired by
former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, to examine the process
of crude oil exports to identify and recommend measures to address lapses that facilitates oil
theft.
This study therefore examines the dynamics of oil resources management and illegal oil
bunkering under two different democratic administrations in Nigeria – Obasanjo’s
administration (1999-2003 & 2003-2007) and Yar’Adua administration (2007-2011). In
particular, it interrogates how the pattern of state control and management of oil resources
which concentrated the benefits of oil wealth in the hands of a very few privileged persons led
to opportunism and different forms of oil-related crimes such as oil theft and illegal oil
bunkering in the Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
When oil was first struck in Oloibiri in 1956, in present day Bayelsa State, Nigerians,
especially people from the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta region where filled with
joy and expectations of the potentials of oil wealth improving their living conditions. After over
58 years of oil production activities, these aspirations and expectations have remained largely
unmet and the oil-bearing communities continue to suffer the harsh impacts of oil exploration
and exploitation. In this wise, scholars have argued that endowment with enormous oil and gas
resources can be a blessing or curse (Mahler, 2010; Obi, 2010a; Ezirim, 2010; Stiglitz, 2005;
Karl, 2005; Watts 2004; Sachs and Warner, 2001).
Oil resources derived “from the Niger Delta accounts for 80 per cent of government
revenue, 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, 40 per cent contribution of GDP and four
per cent of employment” (Tell, 2008:33). This amounts to nearly $20 billion annually or about
$54 million daily. Yet, the social situation in the Niger Delta presents a mammoth discrepancy
compared to its resource endowment, and the socio economic condition is generally worse than
the situation in most parts of the country. For instance, available figures show that there is one
doctor per 82,000 people, rising to one doctor per 132,000 people in some areas, especially the
rural areas, which is more than three times the national average of 40,000 people per doctor.
Only 27 percent of people in the Delta have access to safe drinking water and about 30 percent
of households have access to electricity, both of which are below the national averages of 31.7
percent and 33.6 percent, respectively. Only 6 percent of the population of the Niger Delta have
access to telephones, while 70 percent have never used a telephone (Ibeanu 2006). Instead of
rapid socio-economic development, the increase in oil production in the region has exacerbated
environmental degradation, internal dislocation and widespread poverty in oil bearing
communities. The incidence of poverty in the region is estimated to be as high as 70 per cent,
and the figures are far worse in the rural areas.
The disconnect between huge revenue earning from oil and standard of living in the oilrich
region is not unconnected with the way proceeds from oil resources have been
appropriated by successive administrations in Nigeria. Given that oil wealth and political power
are concentrated in the hands of narrow ruling class, non-transparent and unaccountable
management of oil resources has created a ‘duality of wealth and misery’ in the Niger Delta in
particular and Nigeria at large. Those with access to the Nigerian State have leveraged on the
oil economy to satisfy private and prebendal ethno-regional interests, resulting in serious
impoverishment of Nigerians particularly those from the oil producing communities. The
various constituent groups of the Nigerian State are immersed in grim struggles with one
another over the control of state power since the state holds the key to enormous oil wealth.
The “struggles for access or control over oil wealth are meant to consolidate the gains of those
in power or advance the ambitions of those who seek entry into the circle of power” (Obi,
20
2003:262). Hence, the oil sector is utilised as a conduit for patronage and cronyism, such that
allocation of oil blocks and appointment as fuel importer/marketers are seen as spoils of office
freely deployed by successive Nigerian governments to facilitate unbridled and mindless
looting of the nation’s resources (Oluwajuyitan, 2011).
Consequently, those subjected to misery as a result of exclusion from the benefits of oil
wealth have resorted to different violent and criminal behaviours to gain or retain access to the
oil economy. In this connection, the regular agitation and protests in the oil-rich yet
impoverished Niger Delta region stems from the dynamics of unequal distribution of benefits
of oil wealth. These agitation and protests assumed a worrisome violent dimension with the
emergence of armed youth groups following the return to democracy in Nigeria in May 1999.
State-repression of violence and protests saw the oil-rich region further slide into youth
restiveness and petro-insurgency in mid-2005, with debilitating consequences for the operation
of the oil industry in Nigeria.
In this worrisome context, what emerged was “an economy of conflict characterised
with an intense, violent and bloody struggle for the appropriation of oil resources and benefits
from the oil economy and a thriving market of illegal trading and smuggling of arms, crude oil
and refined petroleum products” (Ikelegbe, 2005:209). For instance, the Chairman, Senate
Committee on the Niger Delta and Conflict Resolution, Senator David Brigidi, revealed that
between 1999 and 2007, the Niger Delta crisis cost Nigeria about 300,000 barrels per day in oil
production, translating to the loss of about $58.3 billion (Amanze-Nwachukwu and Okwuonu,
2007). Thus, pipeline vandalisation, crude oil theft, illegal refineries and illegal oil bunkering,
became thriving and lucrative businesses amidst the rising violence in the region (Obasi, 2011;
Olayode, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009).
A US-based think tank, “the Corporate Council on Africa, estimates that Nigeria loses
$14 billion a year to the highly lucrative but illegal business of oil bunkering” (Daily
Independent, 2007:B4). This estimate lies very close to the findings of a study commissioned
by Royal Dutch/Shell Corporation which found that Nigeria looses between 100 million and
250 million barrels of oil stolen each year to bunkerers or vandals. If calculated at “an average
of US$60 per barrel in 2007, the theft translates to a loss of about US$15 billion each year”
(Mumuni and Oyekunle 2007:12). As of February 2012, it was estimated that “Nigeria is losing
150,000 barrels of crude oil every day to illegal oil bunkering and oil theft in the Niger Delta
region, which translates to about $16 million or N2.5 billion, calculated at oil price of $105 per
barrel” (Mohammed, 2012:1). The extent and intricacy of illegal oil bunkering informed the
lamentation by Cole (2010: www.punchng.com/ViewComments.aspx?theartic) that:
The issue of illegal oil bunkering is at the heart of Nigeria’s many problems
and trying to solve the instability in the Niger Delta without confronting the
problem is like trying to bribe a billionaire with a thousand dollars.
Estimates continue to suggest that upwards of 200,000 barrels of oil a day
are stolen from the region by a cartel incorporating high ranking members of
federal and state government and members of the armed forces. This issue is
central to the future stability and prosperity of Nigeria and it is not being
dealt with.
Over the years, the Nigerian government has tried a number of measures to combat oil
theft, including closing its borders with neighbours, signing contracts for the supply of oil
products to ensure sourcing from lawful suppliers, stationing of a joint task force to combat
illicit oil transactions, and publishing records of revenue collection (The Brenthurst
Foundation, 2010). In another initiative to combat oil theft, Shell in June 2003 proposed the
certification of oil exports based on chemical fingerprinting of crude oil to trace any oil being
sold on the open market – similar to the Kimberly process for tracing rough diamonds
(Nwanma, 2003). Also, government in August 2009 granted amnesty to militants in the Niger
Delta, to unconditionally exonerate them of culpability in the myriad crimes with which they
have been associated, such as illegal oil bunkering, hostage-taking, pipeline and oil installation
destruction and high treason, among others (Text of President Yar’Adua Amnesty
Proclamation, 2009; Nwozor 2010; Davidheiser and Nyiayaana, 2011). In spite of these efforts
22
and little in the way of critical oil infrastructure protection by security personnel, Nigeria
continues to loose huge revenue to oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.
Thus, this study focuses on the relationship between the nature of oil resources
management and the prevalence of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Writers on oil resources management in general and Nigeria in particular allude to oil
abundance as a major factor in the outbreak of armed conflict, or as a causal factor in rentier
state weakness either through the propensity for misrule (Collier and Hoeffler 2005; Di John,
2007; Ross 2008; Basedau and Lay 2009;) or instability (Ibeanu 2002; Joab-Peterside 2005;
Ikelegbe 2006; Marquardt, 2006; Omeje 2006; Ideh, Edegware and Ideh, 2007; Obi 2010b; and
Watts and Ibaba 2011).
In particular, writers on oil endowment and violence in the Niger Delta (Okoko, 1998;
Ibeanu 2000; Ikelegbe, 2005; Aron, 2006; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Osaghae et.
al. 2008; Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009; Evoh, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009; Mahler, 2010;
Oviasuyi and Owadie, 2010; Inokoba and Imbua 2010; Thurber et al., 2010, Obi, 2010a,
2010b; Ibaba, 2011; and Watts and Ibaba, 2011, among others) have harped on violence in the
region as people’s expression of frustration and anger over decades of exploitation,
suppression, marginalization and environmental degradation. Studies regarding the connection
between oil-related activities and the problem of environmental degradation in the region
(UNDP, 2006; Ighodalo, 2006; Ghazvinian, 2007; Rim-Rukeh et. al. 2008; Yo-Essien, 2008;
Ibaba and John 2009; Ereghe and Irughe, 2009; Aroh et. al. 2010; Alawode and Ogunleye,
2011; Omodanisi, Salami and Oke, 2011) have focused almost exclusively on the effects of oil
spill on the environment. Writers on illegal oil bunkering or oil theft and the Nigerian economy
(Van Duyne and Blockk, 1995; UNODC, 2005; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Rim-
Rukeh et. al., 2008; Asuni, 2009; Garuba, 2010; Jonah, 2010) have focused on the financial
worth of oil lost to theft.
Overall, writers on the management of oil resources focus on attendant violent armed
conflicts, the financial worth of oil theft, suppression, exploitation and environmental
degradation. These studies suggest that oil abundance has become a curse in Nigeria in general
and the Niger Delta in particular. However, the relationship between the dynamics of oil
resources management and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta is yet to be given adequate
systematic scrutiny between 1999 and 2011. This study is poised to investigate this gap in the
literature. The questions that arise and which shall serve as the pivot around which this study
revolves are:

1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria is the jewel in the African oil crown, and yet best exemplifies what is now
termed ‘oil paradox’ in media, policy and academic discourses on oil resources management
(Udosen, Etok and George, 2009; Victor, 2008; Obi, 2004). Nigeria is the world’s twelfth, Sub-
Saharan Africa’s largest producer of crude oil, and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting
Countries’ (OPEC) second biggest oil exporter as of July 2011 (Salau, 2011). The rise of
Nigeria as a strategic player in the world oil geopolitics has been dramatic. In the late 1950s
petroleum output was insignificant, amounting to less than 2 per cent of total exports. Between
“1960 and 1973, however, oil output exploded from just over 5 million to over 600 million
barrels. Government oil-revenues in turn accelerated from 66 million naira in 1970 to over 10
billion in 1980” (Watts, 2008:47). Although it is difficult to provide a definite figure on how
much Nigeria has generated from the sale of crude oil in the last 50 years, it was conservatively
estimated in 2008 to be about N30 trillion (naira) or $250 billion (Tell, 2008).
This unprecedented wealth however has not translated to significant improvement in the
living conditions of vast majority of its population, especially people of the oil bearing
communities of the Niger Delta region. Between 1970 and 2000, for instance, the number of
people subsisting on less than one dollar a day in Nigeria grew from 36 per cent to more than
70 per cent, from 19 million to a staggering 90 million (Zalik and Watts, 2006). Similarly,
14
“over the period 1965-2004, the per capita income in Nigeria fell from $250 to $212, leading
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to conclude that huge oil revenue has not improved the
standard of living in the country” (Sala-i-Martin and Subramanian, 2003:4). The 2011 United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report placed Nigeria 156 out of 187 countries in an
assessment of Human Development Indicators (UNDP, 2011). Nigeria’s categorisation among
the Low Human Development Countries undoubtedly reflects the disturbing impoverished life
lived daily by most of its 160 million people, a reality that is completely at variance with the
abundance of oil wealth.
This situation portends that successive military and civilian administrations in Nigeria
have proved incapable of effectively utilising oil windfalls to promote development and living
standard of the citizens. At independence in 1960, oil revenue was quite insignificant to affect
politics in a substantive way. The “major early problems centred on the struggles between the
three major ethnic groups – Hausa/Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo – which predominated in the
Northern, Western, and Eastern administrative regions, respectively” (Thurber et al., 2010:8-
11). By 1966, however, oil-related considerations had started to noticeably affect the country’s
political economy. First was the exacerbation of “political competition for state power among
the dominant ethnic groups, since the state can be used to direct oil resources produced in the
ethnic minority homelands of the Niger Delta to their benefits” (Ibaba, 2008:18). This
manifested in the manipulations of revenue allocation formula to satisfy ethno-regional
interests. For instance, sections 134(1) and 140(1) of the 1960 and 1963 constitutions provided
for a derivation principle of 50 per cent (Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1960,
1963). Because agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, this provision was
adhered to, since it favoured the ethnic majorities whose homelands were host to the cash crops
of cocoa, groundnut, and palm oil that generated the dominant share of national revenues.
However, “as oil displaced agriculture as the productive base of the economy, the derivation
15
principle was whittled down from 50 per cent to 45 per cent in 1975, and later to 1.5 per cent in
1982” (Ibaba, 2008:18). This created feelings of marginalisation, deprivation and political
domination among the ethnic minority groups in the Niger Delta from whose land oil is
exploited.
Second, the weakening of the derivation principle ensured the transfer of oil wealth out
of the Niger Delta to the centre. As oil revenue rose due to the quadrupling of oil prices in
1973-1974, a culture of profligacy dominated the centre in particular and the country at large.
The economic policy of the then General Yakubu Gowon government, embarked on tax cuts,
salaries and wages increase, and Naira appreciation against foreign currencies. Budgets
ballooned, making the government heavily dependent on oil. As oil revenues fuelled the rise of
federal subventions to states and precariously to individuals, the federal government soon
became the centre of political struggle. The declining popularity of the Gowon government as a
result of long sojourn in power and indefinite date for handover to civilian government
precipitated the overthrow of his government by General Murtala Mohammed. The new
military regime promised to restore financial discipline and prudent management of the oilbased
economy. General Mohammed was killed on February 1976, and he was succeeded by
General Olusegun Obasanjo, who completed his plan of an orderly transfer of power to civilian
administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on 1 October 1979.
The civilian government of Shehu Shagari in turn proved profligate and incompetent in
managing the oil wealth. This precipitated the build-up of the nation’s foreign debt from a
lowly N3 billion (naira) in 1979 to a staggering N21 billion by the fall of 1983, “even though it
was during Shagari’s regime that the country earned its highest revenue ever from the sales of
crude oil” (Agedah, 1993:18). His regime was overthrown by the military coup of Muhammadu
Buhari. The regime of General Buhari promised major reforms, but his government fared little
better than its predecessor in the management of the nation’s oil wealth, and was overthrown by
16
yet another military coup in 1985 led by General Ibrahim Babangida. General Babangida’s
regime became the apogee of corruption in the history of the nation, as he was accused of
mismanaging the $12.4 billion oil windfall during the 1990 Gulf war (African Forum and
Network on Debt and Development, 2007; Daily Independent, 2010).
When General Sani Abacha took over power in another military coup in 1993, the
pattern of mismanagement of oil wealth continued. Abacha’s regime avoided coup plots
through bribing of army generals and discretionary allocation of oil blocks to cronies and
regional elites (Furtune Business, 2010). With few effective mechanisms for monitoring receipt
and appropriation of oil windfall in place, corruption developed on a massive scale, yielding
huge rewards for those connected to government (Thurber et al., 2010). Thus, reports of
plunder, corruption and primitive accumulation of capital have dominated the management of
oil resources by the Nigerian governments in alliance with oil corporations, excluding the
people from the political process. This was the case all through the regimes of General
Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Mohammad Buhari, General Ibrahim
Babangida, General Abacha, and General Abdulsalami Abubakar. It was reported, for instance,
that over $400 billion from oil wealth have been badly managed by the country’s elite between
1960 and 1999 (Ibrahim, 2010).
While the decline persisted in the many years of military rule, the inception of civilian
rule in 1999 was perceived as a watershed for fundamental reversal of the decline and
transformation of Nigeria’s ailing political economy. Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999
when Olusegun Obasanjo was elected ended almost 33 years of military rule (from 1966 until
1999) excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979 and 1983). The expectations of
Nigerians were that the inauguration of civil rule would mark a major departure in the way oil
resources is managed. The expectation was that transparent and accountable use of huge
earnings from oil would yield greater ‘democratic dividends’ and benefits to the citizen.
17
In the last 12 years of civilian rule, the oil sector has been reduced to an avenue for
unbridled and mindless looting of the nation’s resources. The Nigerian government has grossed
in far more income between 1999 and 2010 than the prior 35 years before 1999. Gross
domestic product (GDP) jumped from $90 billion in 1998 to about $350 billion in 2009 alone
(Gabriel, et al, 2012). Yet on Human Development Index, Nigeria remains among the most
impoverished nations on earth, with an estimated 79 million of its 160 million people living
below the poverty level. The combination of bad governance and greed have led to the
mismanagement of the political and economic affairs of the Nigerian state, depriving Nigerians
of good standard of living which abundant oil wealth might have brought.
Consequently, the allocation of resources and opportunities in ways that strengthen the
position, wealth, influence and affluence of those in power, excluding the citizens and their
huge expectations, under the emergent civilian dispensation, created opportunism and
criminality, particularly among oil host communities in the Niger Delta. Given the skewed
management of oil wealth in favour of the ruling class, some individuals and oil host
communities have resorted to, or facilitated, illicit oil transactions such as oil theft and artisanal
refining of oil to benefit from the oil wealth. As a result, illegal oil bunkering, which entails,
the supplying and loading of ships with stolen crude oil or petroleum products without requisite
statutory licenses in violation of existing laws and guidelines regulating shipping, oil
transaction and national security, had become a major economic crime pervasive in Nigeria’s
Niger Delta region.
The period between 1999 and 2011 was characterised by redoubled efforts at combating
threats perpetrated within, or facilitated through, Nigeria’s territorial waters, especially the
upsurge in vandalisation of oil infrastructure, smuggling of crude or refined oil as well as the
disruption of operations of river transport and oil service companies by some aggrieved
community youths in the Niger Delta (Shipping Position, 2011). While the administration of
18
President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2001 set up the Special Security Committee on Oil producing
Areas to among others identify the causes of illegal oil bunkering (pipeline vandalisation), the
administration of (late) President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also set up a committee, chaired by
former Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Odein Ajumogobia, to examine the process
of crude oil exports to identify and recommend measures to address lapses that facilitates oil
theft.
This study therefore examines the dynamics of oil resources management and illegal oil
bunkering under two different democratic administrations in Nigeria – Obasanjo’s
administration (1999-2003 & 2003-2007) and Yar’Adua administration (2007-2011). In
particular, it interrogates how the pattern of state control and management of oil resources
which concentrated the benefits of oil wealth in the hands of a very few privileged persons led
to opportunism and different forms of oil-related crimes such as oil theft and illegal oil
bunkering in the Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
When oil was first struck in Oloibiri in 1956, in present day Bayelsa State, Nigerians,
especially people from the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta region where filled with
joy and expectations of the potentials of oil wealth improving their living conditions. After over
58 years of oil production activities, these aspirations and expectations have remained largely
unmet and the oil-bearing communities continue to suffer the harsh impacts of oil exploration
and exploitation. In this wise, scholars have argued that endowment with enormous oil and gas
resources can be a blessing or curse (Mahler, 2010; Obi, 2010a; Ezirim, 2010; Stiglitz, 2005;
Karl, 2005; Watts 2004; Sachs and Warner, 2001).
Oil resources derived “from the Niger Delta accounts for 80 per cent of government
revenue, 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, 40 per cent contribution of GDP and four
per cent of employment” (Tell, 2008:33). This amounts to nearly $20 billion annually or about
19
$54 million daily. Yet, the social situation in the Niger Delta presents a mammoth discrepancy
compared to its resource endowment, and the socio economic condition is generally worse than
the situation in most parts of the country. For instance, available figures show that there is one
doctor per 82,000 people, rising to one doctor per 132,000 people in some areas, especially the
rural areas, which is more than three times the national average of 40,000 people per doctor.
Only 27 percent of people in the Delta have access to safe drinking water and about 30 percent
of households have access to electricity, both of which are below the national averages of 31.7
percent and 33.6 percent, respectively. Only 6 percent of the population of the Niger Delta have
access to telephones, while 70 percent have never used a telephone (Ibeanu 2006). Instead of
rapid socio-economic development, the increase in oil production in the region has exacerbated
environmental degradation, internal dislocation and widespread poverty in oil bearing
communities. The incidence of poverty in the region is estimated to be as high as 70 per cent,
and the figures are far worse in the rural areas.
The disconnect between huge revenue earning from oil and standard of living in the oilrich
region is not unconnected with the way proceeds from oil resources have been
appropriated by successive administrations in Nigeria. Given that oil wealth and political power
are concentrated in the hands of narrow ruling class, non-transparent and unaccountable
management of oil resources has created a ‘duality of wealth and misery’ in the Niger Delta in
particular and Nigeria at large. Those with access to the Nigerian State have leveraged on the
oil economy to satisfy private and prebendal ethno-regional interests, resulting in serious
impoverishment of Nigerians particularly those from the oil producing communities. The
various constituent groups of the Nigerian State are immersed in grim struggles with one
another over the control of state power since the state holds the key to enormous oil wealth.
The “struggles for access or control over oil wealth are meant to consolidate the gains of those
in power or advance the ambitions of those who seek entry into the circle of power” (Obi,
20
2003:262). Hence, the oil sector is utilised as a conduit for patronage and cronyism, such that
allocation of oil blocks and appointment as fuel importer/marketers are seen as spoils of office
freely deployed by successive Nigerian governments to facilitate unbridled and mindless
looting of the nation’s resources (Oluwajuyitan, 2011).
Consequently, those subjected to misery as a result of exclusion from the benefits of oil
wealth have resorted to different violent and criminal behaviours to gain or retain access to the
oil economy. In this connection, the regular agitation and protests in the oil-rich yet
impoverished Niger Delta region stems from the dynamics of unequal distribution of benefits
of oil wealth. These agitation and protests assumed a worrisome violent dimension with the
emergence of armed youth groups following the return to democracy in Nigeria in May 1999.
State-repression of violence and protests saw the oil-rich region further slide into youth
restiveness and petro-insurgency in mid-2005, with debilitating consequences for the operation
of the oil industry in Nigeria.
In this worrisome context, what emerged was “an economy of conflict characterised
with an intense, violent and bloody struggle for the appropriation of oil resources and benefits
from the oil economy and a thriving market of illegal trading and smuggling of arms, crude oil
and refined petroleum products” (Ikelegbe, 2005:209). For instance, the Chairman, Senate
Committee on the Niger Delta and Conflict Resolution, Senator David Brigidi, revealed that
between 1999 and 2007, the Niger Delta crisis cost Nigeria about 300,000 barrels per day in oil
production, translating to the loss of about $58.3 billion (Amanze-Nwachukwu and Okwuonu,
2007). Thus, pipeline vandalisation, crude oil theft, illegal refineries and illegal oil bunkering,
became thriving and lucrative businesses amidst the rising violence in the region (Obasi, 2011;
Olayode, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009).
A US-based think tank, “the Corporate Council on Africa, estimates that Nigeria loses
$14 billion a year to the highly lucrative but illegal business of oil bunkering” (Daily
21
Independent, 2007:B4). This estimate lies very close to the findings of a study commissioned
by Royal Dutch/Shell Corporation which found that Nigeria looses between 100 million and
250 million barrels of oil stolen each year to bunkerers or vandals. If calculated at “an average
of US$60 per barrel in 2007, the theft translates to a loss of about US$15 billion each year”
(Mumuni and Oyekunle 2007:12). As of February 2012, it was estimated that “Nigeria is losing
150,000 barrels of crude oil every day to illegal oil bunkering and oil theft in the Niger Delta
region, which translates to about $16 million or N2.5 billion, calculated at oil price of $105 per
barrel” (Mohammed, 2012:1). The extent and intricacy of illegal oil bunkering informed the
lamentation by Cole (2010: www.punchng.com/ViewComments.aspx?theartic) that:
The issue of illegal oil bunkering is at the heart of Nigeria’s many problems
and trying to solve the instability in the Niger Delta without confronting the
problem is like trying to bribe a billionaire with a thousand dollars.
Estimates continue to suggest that upwards of 200,000 barrels of oil a day
are stolen from the region by a cartel incorporating high ranking members of
federal and state government and members of the armed forces. This issue is
central to the future stability and prosperity of Nigeria and it is not being
dealt with.
Over the years, the Nigerian government has tried a number of measures to combat oil
theft, including closing its borders with neighbours, signing contracts for the supply of oil
products to ensure sourcing from lawful suppliers, stationing of a joint task force to combat
illicit oil transactions, and publishing records of revenue collection (The Brenthurst
Foundation, 2010). In another initiative to combat oil theft, Shell in June 2003 proposed the
certification of oil exports based on chemical fingerprinting of crude oil to trace any oil being
sold on the open market – similar to the Kimberly process for tracing rough diamonds
(Nwanma, 2003). Also, government in August 2009 granted amnesty to militants in the Niger
Delta, to unconditionally exonerate them of culpability in the myriad crimes with which they
have been associated, such as illegal oil bunkering, hostage-taking, pipeline and oil installation
destruction and high treason, among others (Text of President Yar’Adua Amnesty
Proclamation, 2009; Nwozor 2010; Davidheiser and Nyiayaana, 2011). In spite of these efforts
22
and little in the way of critical oil infrastructure protection by security personnel, Nigeria
continues to loose huge revenue to oil theft and illegal oil bunkering.
Thus, this study focuses on the relationship between the nature of oil resources
management and the prevalence of oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
Writers on oil resources management in general and Nigeria in particular allude to oil
abundance as a major factor in the outbreak of armed conflict, or as a causal factor in rentier
state weakness either through the propensity for misrule (Collier and Hoeffler 2005; Di John,
2007; Ross 2008; Basedau and Lay 2009;) or instability (Ibeanu 2002; Joab-Peterside 2005;
Ikelegbe 2006; Marquardt, 2006; Omeje 2006; Ideh, Edegware and Ideh, 2007; Obi 2010b; and
Watts and Ibaba 2011).
In particular, writers on oil endowment and violence in the Niger Delta (Okoko, 1998;
Ibeanu 2000; Ikelegbe, 2005; Aron, 2006; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Osaghae et.
al. 2008; Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009; Evoh, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009; Mahler, 2010;
Oviasuyi and Owadie, 2010; Inokoba and Imbua 2010; Thurber et al., 2010, Obi, 2010a,
2010b; Ibaba, 2011; and Watts and Ibaba, 2011, among others) have harped on violence in the
region as people’s expression of frustration and anger over decades of exploitation,
suppression, marginalization and environmental degradation. Studies regarding the connection
between oil-related activities and the problem of environmental degradation in the region
(UNDP, 2006; Ighodalo, 2006; Ghazvinian, 2007; Rim-Rukeh et. al. 2008; Yo-Essien, 2008;
Ibaba and John 2009; Ereghe and Irughe, 2009; Aroh et. al. 2010; Alawode and Ogunleye,
2011; Omodanisi, Salami and Oke, 2011) have focused almost exclusively on the effects of oil
spill on the environment. Writers on illegal oil bunkering or oil theft and the Nigerian economy
(Van Duyne and Blockk, 1995; UNODC, 2005; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Rim-
Rukeh et. al., 2008; Asuni, 2009; Garuba, 2010; Jonah, 2010) have focused on the financial
worth of oil lost to theft.
23
Overall, writers on the management of oil resources focus on attendant violent armed
conflicts, the financial worth of oil theft, suppression, exploitation and environmental
degradation. These studies suggest that oil abundance has become a curse in Nigeria in general
and the Niger Delta in particular. However, the relationship between the dynamics of oil
resources management and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta is yet to be given adequate
systematic scrutiny between 1999 and 2011. This study is poised to investigate this gap in the
literature. The questions that arise and which shall serve as the pivot around which this study
revolves are:

  1. Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in
    the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011?
  2. Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011?
  3. Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011?
    1.3 Objectives of the Study
    The broad objective of this study is to examine the relationship between oil resources
    management and illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region between 1999 and 2011.
    However, the specific objectives of the study are to:
  4. Ascertain if allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host
    communities in the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011.
    24
  5. Examine if protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to
    the proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta
    between 1999 and 2011.
  6. Find out if security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta
    sustained an international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters
    between 1999 and 2011.
    1.4 Significance of the Study
    The significance of this study is two-fold: theoretical and practical. At the theoretical
    level, it offers a new insight into the dynamics of oil resources management and illegal oil
    bunkering in Nigeria. The extant literature on oil resources management has largely focused on
    how enormous endowment of oil resources has occasioned environmental degradation,
    exploitation, financial loss and armed conflicts in the Niger Delta, without adequate systematic
    treatment of the issue of illegal oil bunkering in the region. Few studies that have examined the
    theft of oil have only looked at it from the perspective of organised crime, without
    systematically exploring how the arbitrary management of oil resources indicated by patronage
    in the use of oil resources to satisfy private and prebendal interests in Nigeria, environmental
    degradation protest and security leakages in the control of illegal oil business underpinned the
    outbreak and persistence of illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The study revisits the
    perspective based on the dynamics of oil resources management in relation to the threat of
    illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria. Therefore, the ideas and insights generated in this study would
    add to the body of knowledge on the broad subject of oil resources management, and would
    spur further debate and research on the subject of illegal oil bunkering and its serious
    ramifications for Nigeria’s economy, security, democracy and environment.
    In policy terms, this study promises to provide valuable insights and strategy for policy
    makers, especially with the federal and state governments (particularly of the Niger Delta
    25
    region), in formulating and implementing practical measures that would address the problem of
    oil-based leakages, including oil theft in the Niger Delta region. Illegal oil bunkering represents
    significant criminal economic activity with serious ramifications for Nigeria’s economy,
    security, democracy and environment. In this connection, the study shall be contributing to a
    better understanding of how to safeguard as well as manage the country’s wealth to improve
    the welfare and security of the citizens. The study will also benefit the local people of the oilhost
    communities as it will highlight the immediate and long-term impacts of illegal bunkering
    activities, especially artisanal refining of stolen crude oil, on environmental sustainability of
    host communities where these activities are rife.
    1.5. Literature Review
    The aim of this study is to examine the contradictions arising from arbitrary
    management of oil resources to satisfy private and prebendal ethno-regional interests and the
    concomitant outbreak of illegal oil bunkering and security leakages in its control in Nigeria’s
    Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011. In this light, relevant and accessible literature were
    reviewed on the following research questions in order to locate the gaps in the literature:
  7. Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in
    the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry1999 and 2011?
  8. Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011?
  9. Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011?
    Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in the
    Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011?
    26
    The issue of the nature and impact of oil resources management on Nigerian economy,
    politics and society has been examined in varied ways. With particular reference to the Niger
    Delta, scholars have also demonstrated, among others, the role oil played in violence and
    conflicts. Ikelegbe (2005), for instance, examined the economy of conflict in the resource-rich
    the Niger Delta region. He interrogated the interfaces among the Nigerian state, multi-national
    oil companies, the international community and youth militias with the economy. He found that
    a conflict economy comprising an intensive and violent struggle for resource opportunities,
    inter and intra communal/ethnic conflicts over resources and the theft and trading in refined and
    crude oil has blossomed in the Niger Delta in recent times. Ikelegbe (2005:208) therefore
    posited that:
    Decades of oil exploitation, environmental degradation and state neglect has
    created an impoverished, marginalized and exploited citizenry which after
    more than two decades produced a resistance of which the youth has been a
    vanguard. A regime of state repression and corporate violence has further
    generated popular and criminal violence, lawlessness, illegal appropriations
    and insecurity.
    Watts and Ibaba (2011) also shared the view that the way oil resources from the Niger
    Delta region have been managed by successive government in Nigeria underpinned conflicts,
    violence and insecurity in the region. They noted that oil is the main object of intra-elite,
    factional, regional and identity struggles over who controls and benefits from it. The struggle
    engendered policies which were adverse to the citizens of the region and thus led to conflict.
    According to them;
    Mapping the conflict reveals multiple periods, such as a time when the central
    issue was community agitations for development attention and demands for the
    payment of compensation for damages caused by oil company activities.
    Succeeding events resulted in sabotage of oil installations, oil theft,
    militarization of the region by the Nigerian State and the militarization of the
    conflict by the raft of different groups which cross-cut villages, classes, social
    networks, ethnic groups, and oil companies (Watts and Ibaba, 2011:7).
    27
    Watts and Ibaba (2011) also noted that the protests were initially peaceful but later
    turned violent owing to several factors, among which include, the obnoxious policies of the
    multinational oil companies (MNOCs) that often neglected the local populace and their
    inability to engage in meaningful corporate social responsibility in communities where they
    operate. This was compounded by their use of security operatives to quell protests as well as
    the arrogance of the Nigerian government which did not feel that the agitation of the oilproducing
    areas could threaten the stability of the State nor significantly affects its economic
    development. Apart from corruption and availability of arms in the region which they also
    noted, the other very important reason was the militarization of the region as a direct
    consequence of the strong state security presence which the people did not take kindly to in the
    midst of the deprivation, despoliation, disaffection and debilitating disenchantment they were
    experiencing in the face of the direct connivance of government and the MNOCs.
    Obi (2010a) offered a fresh perspective to the pervasion of violence, conflicts and
    criminality in the oil-rich Niger Delta. He contended that the roots of violent conflict in the
    Niger Delta as in other oil-rich contexts in Africa do not lie in pools of oil; they lie in the
    inequitable (transnational: local, national and global) power relations embedded in the
    production of oil and the highly skewed distribution of its benefits and pernicious liabilities.
    This was manifests in the non-response to – and later repression of – peaceful protests against
    the exploitation and pollution of the oil-rich region by a state–transnational oil alliance whose
    activities alienated the ordinary people from the land and means of their livelihoods, poisoned
    the ecosystem, deepened pre-existing inequalities and grievances, and paved the way for the
    descent into violent conflict.
    He equally noted that the high-handed response of the state to initially peaceful protests,
    the militarisation of the region and the complicity of oil multinationals and transnational elites
    28
    benefiting from oil production (and pollution) in the region can also help to explain the crisis in
    the oil-rich region. In this regard, Obi (2010a:490) observed that:
    Some premium has been placed on the violent and criminal activities of
    ethnic militias and armed groups involved in oil theft, kidnapping of oil
    workers and extorting oil companies, thus posing threats to oil investments
    in the Niger Delta…Some analysts have even gone as far as to speculate on
    a ‘terrorist threat’ possibly to attract the attention of the Western security
    establishment.
    He noted that such analysis and projections only tell part of the story, often ignoring the fluid
    boundaries between resistance, militancy and criminality, and how the social conditions created
    both by the operations and policies of the state and MNOCs have directly contributed to, and in
    some cases nurtured, the emergence of opportunistic elements manipulating the groundswell of
    grievances.
    Similarly, Saliu and Luqman (2009) were of the view that oil and other issues
    associated with its exploration have engendered conflict between the state and its component
    unit in the past and at present among the state, MNOCs, local elite and local communities in the
    Niger Delta region. They argued that a combination of oil bunkering, hostage-taking for
    ransom, oil production disruption, blockade and extortion, and arms trafficking, among other
    illegal activities have emerged as important avenues for the personal enrichment of
    stakeholders in the region. In relation to illegal oil bunkering, they observed that:
    Crude oil is tapped from pipelines and terminals of oil producing companies
    with advanced technological equipment and pumped into barges, ships and
    tankers on the sea. In some instances rather than go through pipelines,
    bunkerers and militants go straight to oil wellheads abandoned by oil
    companies as a result of militant attacks to pump the crude oil into barges,
    ships and tankers for transportation from the swamps for sale to
    neighbouring states like Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic and Togo and to the
    international market (Saliu and Luqman, 2009:319).
    Aside from the oil theft, they also noted that violence in the oil region has aggravated as
    militants groups (notably MEND) are resorting to kidnapping for ransom as another source for
    personal enrichment and for fuelling their campaign of violence against the state.
    29
    Mahler (2010) examined the oil-violence link in the Niger Delta, taking into
    consideration domestic and international contextual factors. He focused on explaining the
    increase in violence since the second half of the 1990s. With regard to the key contextual
    conditions responsible for violence, the results underline the basic relevance of cultural
    cleavages and political-institutional and socioeconomic weakness that existed even before the
    beginning of the “oil era.”
    He argued that oil has indirectly boosted the risk of violent conflicts through a further
    distortion of the national economy, noting that the transition to democratic rule in 1999
    decisively increased the opportunities for violent struggle, in a twofold manner. First,
    through the easing of political repression and, secondly, through the spread of armed
    youth groups, which have been fostered by corrupt politicians. These incidents imply that
    violence in the Niger Delta is increasingly driven by autonomous dynamics of an economy of
    violence:
    [T]he actors involved in this oil theft (often called “oil bunkering’) include
    some of the militant groups, thus receiving rising financial resources or
    directly weapons. Other actors include the security forces, especially the
    Nigerian Navy; local and regional politicians; and other powerful actors
    such as godfathers and international business people (Mahler, 2010:21)
    Oviasuyi and Owadiae (2010) also x-rayed the dilemma of Niger-Delta region as oil
    producing states of Nigeria, focusing on the criminal neglect of the entire region and the
    various approaches to the de-development of the region. They contended that the way oil
    resources from the region has been managed has turned out to be a curse to the Niger-Delta
    region of Nigeria since 1956, when it was first discovered in the region.
    The Niger Delta Region today is a place of frustrated expectations and deeprooted
    mistrust. Unprecedented restiveness at times erupts in violence. Long
    years of neglect and conflict have fostered a siege mentality specifically
    among youths who feel they are condemned to a future without hope and see
    conflict as a strategy to escape deprivation. While turmoil in the delta has
    many sources and motivations, the preeminent underlying cause is the
    historical failure of governance at all levels (Oviasuyi and Owadiae,
    2010:120).
    30
    They concluded that poor oil resources management has engendered widespread
    poverty in the region. The level of poverty in the Niger-Delta Region has gone beyond the level
    of absolute poverty to the level of poverty qua poverty, a phrase coined by Ikejiaku (2009:19)
    to describe the “practical absolute poverty where the majority find life excruciating because it
    is difficult to meet or satisfy their basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter and education
    beyond primary school level”.
    Inokoba and Imbua (2010) noted two incontrovertible facts about the Niger Delta. First,
    it is a region of strategic importance to both the domestic and international economies.
    Secondly, it is a region of great and troubling paradox-it is an environment of great wealth as
    well as inhuman poverty. Therefore the dilemma of the region is that its wealth and riches have
    become a source of poverty, squalor and curse to the people of the oil bearing communities.
    Despite its invaluable contribution to the sustenance of the Nigerian state, the Niger Delta is
    now home to some of Africa’s poorest people and some of its worst cases of environmental
    destruction. The argued that in return for their generosity and patriotism, the Nigerian state has
    unashamedly paid Niger Deltans back with severe neglect and abandonment, political and
    economic deprivation, mindless looting of revenue generated from the region, joblessness,
    biochemical poisoning through pollution, brutal military assaults (as well as occupation) and
    extreme poverty. In their view;
    [i]t is this grim reality of the Niger Delta region, coupled with the
    unreasonable refusal of the Nigerian state to respond to the peaceful and
    genuine agitations of the oil bearing communities that have created an
    environment of frustration, anger and desperation in the region. Today, this
    has snowballed into lingering and volatile restiveness and insurgency,
    resulting in the demand for local ownership and control of oil resources
    under a truly restructured federal system in Nigeria (Inokoba and Imbua,
    2010:102).
    The core of their argument therefore is that the ever-escalating restiveness of the Niger
    Delta is more or less the people’s expression of frustration and anger over decades of
    31
    exploitation, suppression, marginalization and environmental degradation. To address the
    problem of militancy in the region, they suggested the adoption of pragmatic and holistic
    solution that is based on a sincere, visible and sustained multi-actor, multi-sectoral and
    integrative interventionist mechanism in the region.
    The above explanation of the root causes of the conflict in the Niger Delta is also shared
    by Omofonmwan and Odia (2009). They contended that since the discovery of crude oil in
    commercial quantity in the area in 1956, oil exploration and exploitation have resulted in
    environmental degradation, soil impoverishment, pollution, loss of aquatic life and biodiversity.
    Thus, the causes of the crises in the Niger-Delta region is sequel to the inability of the MNOCs
    involved in the explorations and exploitation of crude oil, and the federal government to
    adequately mitigate the consequences of their activities in the region. In their very words:
    The level of aggression and inter-ethnic rivalry observe today in the region
    is a fallout of the innate desire to have access to basic essential needs.
    Experience has shown that exploitation of crude oil from a particular
    location or well is not permanent. Thus, the persistent demand for attention
    and amenities such as Primary Health Centre (PHC), educational facilities
    etc, by the representative of host communities is to ensure relevance in terms
    of socio-economic wellbeing after the oil wells becomes empty. It is the
    inability of multinational corporations to meet their basic need that is the
    major cause of conflicts in the region (Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009:28).
    They were of the view that adequate mitigation measures such as construction of access
    roads, health facilities, educational facilities, electricity, income yielding ventures, piped water
    supply scheme, provision of micro credit facilities, capacity building, and agricultural
    development will greatly reduce the crises in the region to the barest minimum.
    Focusing on green crimes and petro-violence in the Niger Delta, Evoh (2009) contended
    that the operation of the oil industry in Nigeria is characterised by a vicious cycle of violence
    involving the state, multinational oil companies, and lately a group of indigenous armed youth
    in the Niger Delta region. He explores the increasing vulnerability of the region to violence and
    disaster caused by oil pipeline explosions and other oil exploration activities. He located oil32
    related violence and disasters and their impacts on the environment within the contexts of
    unsustainable resource exploitation by oil companies, political corruption, and rent distribution
    politics in Nigeria.
    Rather than bringing social and economic growth and development in
    Nigeria, the oil industry together with the institutions of the state have
    eroded ‘community spirit’ and social capital; brought untold hardship to the
    people, and ruin to the natural environment of the country. Besides,
    unsustainable approaches to resource exploitation and community relations
    have destroyed the foundations of traditional economy in the Niger-Delta
    (Evoh, 2009:48).
    Consequently, the level of waste, mismanagement and misappropriation that have
    characterised oil wealth at all levels of government in Nigeria has transform Nigeria from a
    resource-rich into a resource-cursed country. These cumulative economic distortions create
    enormous social tension, violence and conflicts in the region. Evoh (2009) presented four
    interrelated sets of solution to the increasing wave of petro-violence in the country, namely: the
    adoption of sustainable practices for oil resource exploitation by oil companies in Nigeria;
    transparent governance and institutions; the diversification and development of agricultural and
    manufacturing sectors with oil wealth; and the involvement of oil-producing communities in
    Nigeria in the management of oil resources through collaborative partnership initiatives.
    Though the link between oil, deprivation and conflict in the Niger Delta has been
    extensively discussed in the literature, the above review of extant literature on the issue of oil
    and insecurity has shown that scholars have not examined how the patronage allocation of oil
    blocks to the ruling class contributes to the dispossession of oil-host communities of befitting
    access and control of the resources of their environment, thereby underpinning their
    involvement in oil banditry.
    Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between 1999
    and 2011?
    33
    The degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta due to oil production activities
    has remained a subject of growing public concern. In this regard, oil spill due to equipment
    failure, natural rupture or deliberate sabotage remains a major source of environmental
    degradation in the region. Statistics show that “a total of 6,817 oil spills occurred between 1976
    and 2001, with a loss of approximately three million barrels of oil. More than 70 per cent was
    not recovered. Approximately six per cent spilled on land, 25 per cent in swamps and 69 per
    cent in offshore environments” (UNDP, 2006:76). In a report published in August 2011, the
    United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) accused Shell and other oil firms of
    systematically contaminating 1,000 sq km (386 sq mile) area of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta,
    with disastrous consequences for human health and wildlife. The report estimated that the
    devastating oil spills in the oil-rich region over the past five decades would cost $1 billion to
    rectify and will take about 25-30 years to clean up (UNEP, 2011). The report covers
    contaminated land, groundwater, surface water, sediment, vegetation, air pollution, public
    health, industry practices and institutional issues.
    Ighodalo (2006) has argued that oil pollution is one of the negative outcomes of oil
    production activities, which contributed to the upsurge in violent agitations by oil bearing
    communities and armed youth groups in the Niger Delta fighting for the protection of their
    environment and a more equitable distribution of the nation’s oil wealth. Ghazvinian (2007)
    corroborated this assertion, noting that the various stages of oil exploration and extraction cause
    tremendous environmental and social damage in the Niger Delta. These include seismic
    surveys, drilling, road and pipeline construction, river dredging and gas-flaring. Long-standing
    pollution also resulted from pipeline leaks and oil spills, waste dumping and blowouts, all
    exacerbated by the neglect of proper maintenance and management. In his view:
    The problem, in a nutshell, is that for fifty years, foreign oil companies have
    conducted some of the world’s most sophisticated exploration and production
    operations, using millions of dollars’ worth of imported ultramodern equipment,
    against a backdrop of Stone Age squalor. They have extracted hundreds of
    34
    millions of barrels of oil, which have sold on the international market for
    hundreds of billions of dollars, but the people of the Niger Delta have seen
    virtually none of the benefits (Ghazvinian 2007:18).
    Thus, local communities eking out subsistence through fishing, cassava processing,
    palm oil processing, orchard tending and non-timber forest product gathering experienced
    devastating changes in their lives. Deforestation, air and water pollution, desertification and
    loss of arable land contributed to high rates of disease and physical, mental and social illhealth.
    Eregha and Irughe (2009) posited that the issue of environmental sustainability cannot
    be overemphasized in the Niger-Delta as this is fundamental to the overall wellbeing of the
    present and future generations of the people of the oil producing state. This is because the
    Niger-Delta region is dominated by rural communities that depend solely on the natural
    environment for subsistence living. According to them:
    Environmental degradation with respect to oil production is elastic in the
    region every day and this is well known. These include among others
    degradation of the forests and depletion of aquatic fauna. The long-term
    impacts are also possible, as in cases where mangrove swamps and
    groundwater are harmed. The issue of oil induced environmental disaster
    and its numerous effects are devastating in the region (Eregha and Irughe,
    2009:161).
    They observed that studies regarding oil related environmental problems and their
    impact on the region have not really done extensive work on the link between the economic
    effects and the resulting social effects. Hence, their study examined the various economic
    effects and its concomitant social effects in the region. The oil related environmental problems
    identified included water pollution, deforestation, land degradation, and air pollution. These
    problems have generated multiplier economic effects – alarming unemployment rate, high level
    of poverty – and social effects: conflicts, youth restiveness, and hostage-taking, among others.
    The desire to ensure the preservation and protection of the fragile ecosystem of the
    Nigeria Delta has been a long-standing issue in the protests waged by oil host communities. For
    35
    instance, in October 1990, the Ogoni Bill of Rights was presented to the Nigerian government
    and people. The Ogoni Bill of Rights among other things demanded for the right to use a fair
    proportion of the economic resources in Ogoni land for its development and the right to protect
    their environment. In October 1999, the Movement of the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic
    Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) also presented the lzon people charter which
    among other things demanded for the right of the ljaw to control their natural resources. On
    December 1998, a meeting held by Ijaw youths in Kaiama, Bayelsa state, established the ljaw
    Youth Council (IYC) and made the famous Kaiama Declaration. The ten-point resolution in the
    Declaration among other things asserted the right of the ljaw people to ownership and control
    of their lives and resources, affirming that:
    All land and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the ijaw
    territory belong to ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival. We
    cease to recognize all undemocratic decrees that rob our people/ communities
    of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were
    enacted without our participation and consent. These include the Land Use
    Decree and the Petroleum Decree, among others (Kaiama Declaration, 1998).
    The Kaiama Declaration by the IYC marked a curtain raiser in organised agitation for
    the control of, and access to, oil resource of the Niger Delta. It heralded threats by youths to
    shut down all oil wells in Ijaw land and called on companies to suspend further business
    relations with the State and Federal Governments over the issue of oil exploitation and its
    related consequences for the environment. The main aim of the agitators was to own, control
    and manage the mineral resources, especially oil, found in the Niger Delta in a manner that
    preserves their environment. However, “a careful reading of the provision of paragraph 3 of
    Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution vests exclusive ownership, management and control of
    these mineral resources on the government of the federation” (Ibrahim, 2008:247). The
    contradiction arising from the pursuit of these resolutions by the oil-rich minorities groups and
    the quest by the Nigerian state to maintain unfettered control of oil resources underpinned the
    militant dimension of the protests in the region.
    36
    Ibaba (2011) corroborated this point when he argued that the youths from the region
    resolved to implement Kaiama Declaration from 30 December 1998, but their attempts met
    state repressions that lead to violent confrontation between the youths and security forces, and
    consequently providing the setting for the transformation of youth groups into militia
    organizations. This is in tandem with Ibeanu’s (2000) analysis of the management of conflicts
    surrounding petroleum production in the Niger Delta. Ibeanu (2000) highlighted the dynamics
    of environmental conflict in the region as well as explored how two different political regimes,
    one authoritarian and the other democratic, have approached conflict management in the area.
    He is of the view that the Niger Delta has witnessed considerable violence as a result of the
    tense relationship among oil companies, the Nigerian state, and oil-bearing communities. He
    noted that environmental damage from the extraction and movement of fossil fuels is a central
    point of dispute among the parties. He puts it thus:
    The violence of the last ten years in the Niger Delta has brought relations
    among oil companies, the Nigerian state, and oil-bearing communities fullcircle.
    For four decades, ecological devastation on the one hand, and neglect
    arising from crude oil production, on the other hand, have left much of the
    Niger Delta desolate, uninhabitable, and poor. The shady modus operandi of
    oil companies and the incompetence and corruption of state officials,
    ensured that neither took responsibility for the enormous environmental and
    social damages caused by crude oil production. Frustrated, the people of the
    Niger Delta took up arms against petrobusiness and its political allies
    (Ibeanu, 2000:19).
    His central thesis is that conflicts arise out of a contradiction of securities, which the
    Nigerian state because of its character is unable to manage and reconcile. This contradiction of
    securities hinges on the opposition between perceptions and conditions of security advanced by
    local communities and those advanced by state officials and petrobusiness. Put simply, security
    for local communities means recognition that mindless exploitation of crude oil and the
    resultant ecological damage threaten resource flows and livelihoods. For state officials and
    petrobusiness, security consists of an unencumbered production of crude oil at competitive
    (read cheap) costs.
    37
    Furthermore, Owugah (2008) examined the dynamics of the Niger Delta conflict with
    the aim of explaining the changes in conflict base and response strategies. According to him,
    the initial conflict base in the region was inadequate compensation for environmental
    degradation as well as developmental and employment neglect. This base later shifted to
    resource control with the advent of democratic rule. While the initial response strategy was
    litigation and later peaceful protest, the latest response strategy was revolutionary violence. He
    attributed the current conflict in the Niger Delta to the failure of the Nigerian state to
    effectively use the enormous oil resources generated from the oil producing states to ensure
    their socio-economic wellbeing.
    Hence, the demand to reclaim the two principal rights they lost or
    surrendered to the state on becoming part of the Nigerian state. Since the
    state is unable to fulfil its obligation to them, they are reclaiming their rights
    to exploit their resources for their socio-economic well-being and to also
    possess and use arms for their personal and property security. This is the
    genesis of the demand for resource control and the emergence of
    revolutionary groups in the Niger Delta (Owugah, 2008:716)
    Consequently, while the people are demanding for resource control, the state is offering
    a Niger Delta development master plan. The contradiction is such that the communities have no
    confidence in the state while the state has no respect for the revolutionaries who it dismisses as
    ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists’. Owugah therefore posited that any serious efforts at resolving the
    Niger Delta crisis must relate both the discussion and the recommendations to the resource
    control and environmental degradation protests.
    Osaghae et al (2008) contended that the Niger Delta region has been the site of a
    generalized ethnic and regional struggle for self-determination since 1998, the location of
    often-violent confrontations between local ethnic communities and agents of the Nigerian state
    and oil companies involved in the extraction and exploitation of oil in the area. This struggle
    has undergone several transformations. The first profound transformation was the flowering of
    civil society, which mobilized a popular civil struggle. In the second, the agitation was
    38
    extended from that against MNOCs to include the Nigerian state. The third transformation
    involved the elevation of the agitation from purely developmental issues to include the political
    demands such as federal restructuring, resource control and the resolution of the national
    question through a conference of ethnic nationalities. The current and fourth stage of the
    transformation has seen the entrance of youths, youth militancy and youth militias with volatile
    demands and ultimatums that has elevated the scale of confrontations and violence with the
    multinationals and the state.
    Osaghae et al (2008) are of the view that the Niger Delta struggle is an exercise in
    contentious collective action aimed at ending discrimination, environmental degradation,
    oppression, domination and exploitation which Niger-Deltans claim arise from denials and
    violations of their human rights by the Nigerian state. In this wise, they argue that resource
    control protests in the region is characterized by violence due to the widely varying conception
    of resource control held by the various actors in Niger Delta and the difficulty in reconciling
    such conceptions.
    Resources” to the communities and peoples of the Niger Delta is not just
    “oil and gas” but include land, forests and water… Two other principal
    actors in the politics of Niger Delta, the MNCs and the Nigerian state do not
    share Niger-delta conception of resource control. MNCs believe that
    resource control agitation by the people of the Niger Delta is merely a
    clamor for a return of parts of oil and logging revenue into the region. They
    see it as an exercise in fiscal federalism and not necessarily a change in
    status quo as they believe that once the states have been settled, there will
    be peace. To the federal government resource control advocacy and its
    meaning is a call for war or a break up of Nigeria. Government leaders
    believe that an agitation for control of resources is nothing but “separatist
    tendencies” that must not be tolerated, but crushed (Osaghae et al, 2008:20).
    Hence, the contentious collective action or protests by the ethnic minorities has been
    violently pursued by armed youth militia groups and resistance movements with an ideology
    based on the principle of self-determination as a driving force for ethnic autonomy. In this
    violent context, armed militia groups in the Niger Delta get funds for their purchase of arms
    through illegal oil bunkering.
    39
    Indeed, media reports have indicated that problems of illegal oil bunkering and
    vandalisation of petroleum product pipelines have constituted major threats to optimal
    operations by the oil majors and the NNPC in the Niger Delta. In this wise, Phil-Eze (2004)
    attributed the act of taping into oil pipeline to long years of neglect, marginalisation and
    repression of the people of the Niger Delta region. He placed the analysis within the context of
    the socio-economic theory of ethnicity. This theory largely identifies imbalance in socioeconomic
    wellbeing as the basis for the emergence of ethnic consciousness. He contended that
    the immediate cause of growing vandalisation is a general discontent and resentment by the
    indigenous ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta especially the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo.
    These ethnic groups vent their anger over the devastation of their environment through this
    unlawful method of recovering or “scooping” what they perceive as their oil wealth being
    unfairly carted away to Abuja and other places. In this wise, the central argument of the scholar
    is that:
    Pipeline vandalisation is today an ethnic dimension to the unreserved
    expression of discontent and disaffection emanating from long years of
    deprivation by successive governments in Nigeria. The people want their
    misfortunes to be transformed to fortune in this present democratic
    dispensation (Phil-Eze, 2004:279).
    His view also corroborated one of the explanations of Ikporukpo (1988) on the
    occurrence of pipeline vandalisation. The first explanation is that pipeline vandalisation is a
    reflection of the general dissatisfaction of ethnic nationalities in the oil producing areas with the
    oil companies. In other words, ethnic groups regard oil spillage through pipeline vandalisation
    as a way of venting this grudge. The second explanation holds that pipeline vandalisation is
    effected for the purpose of making “quick money”. This proposition is that since some form of
    compensation may accrue to the people of the area affected by oil spillage resulting from the
    vandalised pipeline, the more the incidences, the more money people are likely to make.
    40
    The official explanation is that petroleum pipeline vandalisation is the handiwork of
    criminals, usually indigenous contractors and local chiefs who expect to be awarded clean-up
    contracts, or the evil machinations of detractors determined to derail the democratic projects in
    Nigeria. Although local communities dispute such claims, Aaron (2006:208-209) has argued
    that:
    Petroleum pipeline vandalisation should be contextualized as an aspect of the
    struggle to reacquire a lost human right: ‘the right to indigenous people to
    control their land and natural resources’ – a right the Niger Delta people have
    been brutally deprived of by the Nigerian State and oil transnationals.
    He premised his argument on the assumption that the sabotaging of oil installations is a
    community project, which it is not. It is pertinent to note that although sabotage-induced oil
    spillage is a way of protest against deprivation, as well as an economic venture, it is an activity
    of groups, and not communities. Indeed, the economic motive is central. The official position
    which attributes such incidents to the activities of people who expect economic gains from the
    oil spills sounds plausible. Okoko (1998:20) supported this viewpoint when he declared that:
    The entire issue of sabotage appears perplexing, since the communities protests
    the destruction of farmlands and fishing grounds by oil spillages. The question
    therefore arises, why do we still have these acts of sabotage? …this seeming
    paradox lies in the types of persons engaged in these acts of sabotage… these
    individuals have no stake in the consequences of spillages. They are neither
    farmers nor fishermen. They are landless and have no claim to fishing ponds…
    sabotage to these groups is simply a form of ‘business’, the credibility of which
    is not of concern to them. Those who support such acts feel justified in line with
    the national syndrome of national cake-sharing, besides the prevailing feeling of
    discontent occasioned by neglect and deprivation.
    The payment of compensatoin to oil-producing communities for oil industry related
    environmental damages in the Niger Delta is an issue of concern to the Niger Delta. Ikporukpo
    (2004) captured these concerns thus:
    Whereas there are no direct compensatory payments for pollution and associated
    problems, there is payment for loss of use of land and water resources. In other
    words, individuals and communities are compensated for destroyed crops,
    productive trees and fish. There is no compensation for loss of land and water
    bodies… no compensation are paid if damage is caused through the action of a
    claimant, or third party… The rates paid are usually low because of frequent
    41
    under valuation… The issue of self-inflicted and third party damage is one of
    the most contentious aspects of compensation (Ikporukpo, 2004:337).
    The theory of greed-propelled sabotage through vandalisation fits the orientation of the
    oil companies as they are wont to give this as an excuse in order to escape payment of
    compensation to the affected communities. It is therefore argued that a more disturbing factor
    that encouraged ethnic groups to vandalise pipelines is that compensatory rent, where it is paid
    at all, by oil companies is quite minimal, outdated and neither commensurate with the impact of
    exploitation on the environment, occupational and socio-economic life of the people, nor the
    level of profit made by the companies and government.
    It is worthy to note however that not all members of the oil host communities take part
    in acts of sabotage. Indeed, even those who do not take part are victims of the devastating
    impact of the resulting oil spills. Against this backdrop, Ibaba and John (2009) examined the
    relationship between sabotage-induced oil spillages and human rights violations in the Niger
    Delta. They argued that the policy which abhors compensation for sabotage-induced spills
    violates economic rights. In their view, it is wrong to deny claimants or victims compensation,
    when their complicity is not established.
    Despite claims of sabotage, the oil companies hardly provide evidence to
    substantiate their claims. Worse, the actual culprits are never identified. Our
    contention is that in the absence of the establishment of complicity, it is
    wrong not to pay claimants compensation for their damaged resources. In
    our opinion, this refusal to pay compensation without the establishment of
    complicity is a violation of human rights (Ibaba and John, 2009:61).
    Perhaps of more significance is the fact that the oil spills and the resultant
    environmental degradation and destruction violate the people’s right to a healthy environment.
    The refusal to pay them compensation, therefore, amounts to double tragedy or loss. Ibaba and
    John (2009 were of the view that the most likely option to end the menace of oil pipeline
    sabotage that leads to pollution is to integrate the communities into the oil economy. This will
    42
    make them have proprietary interest, and for this reason, take interests in protecting oil
    pipelines and installations.
    In this connection, Alawode and Ogunleye (2011) contended that pipeline breakage and
    oil spills are caused by two major phenomena: damages and ruptures. Ruptures occur due to
    diminished pipeline integrity and the aging process of the pipes. However, pipeline damages
    are caused mainly by sabotage. Oil spill was identified as the major effect of oil pipeline
    breakage. Pipeline vandalisation compounds oil spillages from other sources and exacerbates
    the problems of environmental degradation and pollution of waterways.
    Degradation of the environment is one of the worst disasters that have
    befallen the areas where pipelines have been vandalised. Raging fires have
    destroyed farmlands and forests thereby reducing arable land for farming.
    Spills into waterways destroy marine and aquatic life, flora, fauna, resort
    centers, and result in the pollution of potable water (Alawode and Ogunleye,
    2011:569).
    To sustain and improve the integrity and safety of the pipelines, they suggested the need
    for a complete overhaul of aging pipelines, frequent checks for pipeline integrity, improved
    surveillance and introduction of aerial/satellite monitoring of pipeline installations, effective
    tracking by the Naval force of the inflow of arms, and increased enlightenment on the adverse
    consequences of pipeline vandalisation.
    Aroh et. al. (2010) examined the incidents of oil spills and pipeline vandalisation in
    Nigeria in relation to the potential danger posed by such activities to public health. They noted
    that out of the 1,000 reported oil spill incidents analyzed, some hundreds of thousands of
    barrels of oil were lost to the environment. Using graphic pictures of typical oil spill through
    acts of vandalisation in Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, they analyzed its impact on public health. They
    observed that:
    The run-off and sedimentation of this pollutant in fresh water systems
    severely degrade water quality, affect fish spawning and aquatic
    invertebrates’ habitats, thus lowering food web productivity. Incidentally the
    spill-over effect on humans who directly depend on fish and other aquatic
    food as an alternative protein supplement is quite inundating. The effects on
    43
    humans include irritation, dermatitis, cancer, occurrence of abortion, organ
    failure and genetic disorder (Aroh et al, 2010).
    They called for early report of oil spill incidents so that the regulatory agencies would
    take prompt actions to protect and enhance the quality of the environment. They concluded that
    oil spill and pipeline vandalisation devastate the environment, pollute dependable potable water
    sources such as streams and rivers and should be seen as a serious threat and negation to the
    attainment of the United Nations Millennium development goals. Indeed, cases of sabotage of
    oil pipeline have not only resulted in oil pollution but in the destruction of properties and loss
    of several lives.
    The above review of extant literature has shown that oil host communities have staged
    different forms of organised protests as means of expressing dissatisfaction over the
    marginalisation, deprivation and repression of oil bearing communities by both the Nigerian
    State and MNOCs. Without doubt, deprivation grievances related to the locally produced oil
    wealth have motivated conflicts and protests in oil-host communities, but the proliferation of
    armed groups resulting in the exploitation of the conflict environment to engage in
    environmentally hazardous oil transactions such as illegal tapping and artisanal refining of
    crude oil in the Niger Delta has not been subjected to thorough scrutiny between 1999 and
    2011.
    Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in the Nigerian coastal waters?
    For a nation that has oil as its mainstay, it is to be expected that no effort would be
    spared in protecting oil facilities from vandals, insurgents, terrorists and economic saboteurs.
    This is essentially because crude oil or refined petroleum products lost as a result of theft has
    economic consequences, particularly in the form of loss of revenue to the government.
    Van Duyne and Blockk (1995) examined the interaction between crime-enterprises in
    the oil market in the United States and North-western Europe. They uncovered the landscape of
    44
    moral decay, lack of supervision by law enforcement and the spread of systematic fraud in a
    branch of industry which has become ripe for infiltration by organised crime. They contended
    that if the entrepreneurial landscape has similar features and there are possibilities of personal
    bridgeheads organised business crime obtains cross-border, transatlantic dimensions. In relation
    to the flourishing of organised crime in oil industry, Van Duyne and Blockk (1995:137) argued
    that:
    The criminal networks in their composition are not restricted to a particular
    nationality: oil trade is by its very nature international and so are the
    networks of organised fraudsters. However, every market has its commercial
    and social boundaries. Large-scale organised fraudsters are likely to learn
    about each other’s exploits; sooner or later they share mutual technical
    interests which may lead to a stronger mutual cohesion. The outcome may
    be a “criminal trading community”.
    They further contended that a weak and permeable market and deficient law enforcement
    which contribute to the gradual penetration of organised crime cannot be considered isolated
    from a surrounding decay in public morality. They noted the excessive attention devoted to the
    recognizable symptoms of traditional organised crime with only marginal attention paid to the
    landscape in which organised business crime is allowed to flourish. Interestingly, Van Duyne
    and Blockk’s work identified the existence of organised criminal network in the oil market in
    the United States and North-western Europe and the conditions that permits such acts to
    flourish. However, there focus is neither on the operation of such illicit activities in Nigeria, nor
    on its implications for loss of revenue.
    The UNODC (2005) treated illegal oil bunkering or theft in Nigeria as a form of
    transnational organised crime. It noted that illegal oil bunkering is a speciality of Nigeria,
    noting that “relatively little is known as to the overall nature and extent of the problem”
    (UNODC, 2005:31). It went further to state that the oil bunkering syndicates operating in the
    Niger Delta are highly international, including not only other West Africans, but also
    Moroccans, Venezuelans, Lebanese, French and Russians. It concluded that the impact of
    45
    organised crime on the region’s citizens is profound — not only does it undercut state
    institutions but greatly increases the challenges for honest travellers and business operators who
    often feel targeted by Western customs and law enforcement agencies. Police reform, more
    effective forms of regional and international cooperation, greater political will and attempts to
    curb corrupt practices were adduced as critical measures to effectively combating the problem.
    UNODC’s observations that ‘oil bunkering is a speciality of Nigeria and that relatively
    little is known as to the overall nature and extent of the problem’ are quite informative. It goes
    further to underscore the need for more scholarly attention to be paid to this illicit activity that
    seems limited to only Nigeria.
    Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan (2006) provided an overview of the three aspects of
    illegal oil bunkering – local small scale oil theft, larger scale oil theft and excess lifting of crude
    oil beyond the licensed amount – and the ways in which it affects the prospects for peace and
    security in the region. They argue that the advent of civil rule in 1999 witnessed an escalation
    in illegal oil bunkering, which coincided with the general state relaxation of military control in
    the Niger Delta. In their view:
    Illegal oil bunkering is a multifaceted issue that can only be curbed if it is
    dealt with in concert with corruption, illegal small arms and money
    laundering. The context of poverty and inequality, perceived and actual
    discrimination, lacking capacity to legitimately benefit from the oil industry,
    and crime and criminal cartels makes illegal oil bunkering both appealing
    and relatively easy through the criminal infrastructure that exists (Davis,
    Von Kemedi and Drennan 2006:22-23).
    They contended that shutting down illegal bunkering operations has been a very
    difficult challenge for successive administration because of the participation of highly placed
    persons in this illegal activity, and their ability to threaten government stability if pushed too
    far. They identified five ‘flow-on effects’ of illegal oil bunkering, namely; sea piracy, weapons
    proliferation, ethnic violence and social disintegration. The observation that highly placed
    46
    persons are involved in this illegal activity suggests the existence of more permanent and
    entrenched groups.
    Jonah (2010) identified illegal oil bunkering or oil theft as a maritime threat to Nigeria’s
    national security. He argued that Nigeria as a littoral state with abundant maritime resources
    and a major oil producing nation is faced with attendant national security challenges. These
    challenges include, among others, poaching, piracy and sea robbery, smuggling, illegal oil
    bunkering and theft, drug trafficking, international terrorism, maritime border disputes, marine
    pollution, and proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He noted that Nigeria as a
    monocultural economy, with oil production as the main foreign exchange earner, would have to
    ensure the continuous safe exploration and exploitation of the commodity to guarantee her
    development and security. Jonah (2010:84) clarified that:
    Illegal bunkering is the illegal transfer of fuels and other petroleum products
    between vessels, from storage facilities to vessels and vice versa while crude
    oil theft involves the vandalisation of crude oil product pipes and the
    subsequent theft of the products from the pipes. Illegal bunkering and crude
    oil theft amount to staggering losses. Nigeria losses alone are estimated
    anywhere from 70,000 to 300,000.
    Jonah blamed poor maritime governance as significantly facilitating oil theft. A credible
    maritime security arrangement is, therefore, required to combat this security challenge.
    In her analysis of the problem of illegal oil bunkering, Asuni (2009) contended that the
    trade in stolen oil or “blood oil” poses an immense challenge to the Nigerian state. The term
    “blood oil”, according to her, owes its origins to the “blood diamond” campaign, which raised
    awareness of the problem of diamond smuggling from African war zones and its role in
    funding conflict.
    The sale of stolen oil from the Niger Delta has had the same pernicious
    influence on that region’s conflict as diamonds did in the wars in Angola and
    Sierra Leone. The proceeds from oil theft are used to buy weapons and
    ammunition, helping to sustain the armed groups that are fighting the federal
    government. The armed groups are also investing in criminal enterprises
    such as drug trafficking (Asuni, 2009:2).
    47
    She further noted that the business of illegal oil bunkering involves players far beyond
    the shores of Nigeria and will require an international effort to control it. She equally
    highlighted some of the efforts at curbing the trade in stolen oil. Asuni’s work focused
    essentially on the oil-conflict dynamics of illegal oil bunkering. Yet the implications of illegal
    oil bunkering go beyond the instigation of violence.
    Garuba (2010) examined illegal oil bunkering within the context of Nigeria’s economic
    reform agenda. He addressed the underlying linkage between transborder economic crime and
    the phenomenon of globalization, while noting the essential character of illegal oil bunkering
    that qualifies it as a form of transnational economic crime. He contended that oil being the
    biggest single business in Nigeria, the trans-border character of illegal bunkering is not only
    accentuated by the logic of globalization, but it is also portending serious implications and
    genuine concerns for the economic reform process in the country.
    He noted that the upsurge noticed in contemporary illegal oil bunkering started
    attracting public knowledge during the Babangida regime (1986–1993) when crude oil and its
    refined products (specifically petrol) became the domain of senior military officers and their
    civilian cronies. From the initial opportunity provided by domestic subsidy and devaluation of
    the Nigeria Naira during which legally lifted products were diverted to more profitable markets
    of Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA) Franc States under arrangement and cover of
    government officials, illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria took firm roots with the discrete
    cooperation of oil companies workers who operated at oil wellheads or allowed access to them.
    The bunkerers tap directly into pipelines away from oil company facilities, and connect from
    the pipelines to barges that are hidden in small creeks with mangrove forest cover. The work
    highlighted a close relationship between the dynamics of conflict and illegal oil bunkering in
    the Niger Delta. According to Garuba (2010:13)
    When sustained at a measured level such that will not close down oil
    production completely, conflicts in the Niger Delta clear the creeks of other
    48
    traffic to lubricate the engine of illegal oil bunkering. What it takes the wellorganised
    syndicated crime gangs involved in the business to sustain the
    flow of the commodity is to plug back a part of the proceeds from the stolen
    crude oil into weapon acquisition to fan the conflicts.
    He concluded that the reckless politics around oil is not only reflected in the squabbles
    for control of its business, but it is also responsible for trans-border oil smuggling by everincreasing
    and ever-expanding criminal networks that are aided by contemporary logic of
    globalization as dictated in new communication and transportation technologies, as well as
    informal cross-border linkages. The leakage trans-border oil smuggling portends, highlights the
    basis upon which some combative measures form an integral part of government’s economic
    reform process.
    Rim-Rukeh et al (2008) focused on community based intervention as a strategy to
    combat pipeline vandalisation, with specific objective of proposing participatory rural appraisal
    (PRA) technique. They shared the view that “the cause of pipeline vandalisation in the Niger
    Delta can be traced to the long history of neglect, marginalisation and repression of the people
    of the area by successive government” (Rim-Rukeh et. al., 2008:24). The cumulative effects of
    all these have been lack of development and widespread and palpable poverty and discontent
    among the people of the region. Therefore, unlawful act of pipeline vandalisation became the
    only medium of expressing dissatisfaction, marginalisation and repression.
    In order to effectively combat pipeline vandalisation, Rim-Rukeh et. al. (2008)
    recommended the application of the PRA strategy, which will involve local people in the
    management and maintenance of pipeline and pipeline right of way. The idea is that local
    people would be part of the project, their rights respected and they will be economically
    empowered by the process.
    These studies reviewed indeed highlighted that the theft of oil through illegal oil
    bunkering and petroleum products pipeline vandalisation leads to loss of revenue. However, the
    critical question that arises is: did leakages in the security control of illegal oil business in the
    49
    Niger Delta sustain an international market for illegal oil trade in the Nigerian coastal waters?
    As a matter of necessity, there is the need to explore how some leakages or deficit in the
    security and surveillance operations in the region contributed to the existence of an
    international market for stolen oil. The bunkering of oil and its transportation to the high seas
    is facilitated with large ocean going vessels or badges which could be easily detected by
    constant patrol of the waterways by maritime law enforcement agencies such as the Nigerian
    Navy, Coastal Police and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. The extant
    literature reviewed have not satisfactorily addressed this issue. Therefore, there is the need to
    examine how leakages in the security control of illegal oil business in the Niger Delta are
    deeply implicated in the sustenance of an international market for illegal oil trade in the
    Nigerian waters.
    Gap in the Literature
    The literature review shows that writers on oil resource management in general and
    Nigeria in particular allude to oil abundance as underpinning the financial motives/
    opportunities for armed conflict, or as a causal factor in rentier state weakness either through
    the propensity for misrule, authoritarianism or instability (Basedau and Lay 2009; Ross 2008;
    Di John, 2007; Collier and Hoeffler 2005; Watts and Ibaba 2011; Obi 2010b; Ideh, Edegware
    and Ideh, 2007; Marquardt, 2006; Omeje 2006; Ikelegbe 2006; Joab-Peterside 2005; Ibeanu
    2002).
    Writers on oil politics and violence in the Niger Delta (Watts and Ibaba, 2011; Mahler,
    2010; Oviasuyi and Owadie, 2010; Inokoba and Imbua 2010; Obi, 2010a, 2010b;
    Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009; Evoh, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009; Ikelegbe, 2005; Thurber
    et al., 2010; Ibeanu 2000) have harped on violence and conflicts in the region as people’s
    expression of frustration and anger over decades of exploitation, suppression, marginalization
    and environmental degradation. Writers on protests and vandalisation of oil infrastructure
    50
    (Aron, 2006; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Braide, 2005; UNODC, 2005; Luft,
    2005; Phile-Eze, 2004; Okoko, 1998; Ikporukpo, 2004, 1988) have focused on pipeline
    vandalisation as a medium of expressing dissatisfaction by oil bearing communities. Writers on
    illegal oil bunkering and the Nigerian economy (Garuba, 2010; Asuni, 2009; Jonah, 2010; Van
    Duyne and Blockk, 1995) have only alluded to the financial estimates of the worth of oil lost to
    theft.
    Most studies regarding the connection between oil and environmental degradation in the
    region (Alawode and Ogunleye, 2011; Omodanisi, Salami and Oke, 2011; Aroh et al. 2010;
    Ibaba and John 2009; Ereghe and Irughe, 2009; Rim-Rukeh et al. 2008; Yo-Essien, 2008;
    Ghazvinian, 2007; UNDP, 2006; Ighodalo, 2006, Ibeanu, 2000)) have focused almost
    exclusively on the effects of oil spill from vandalised pipelines on the environment.
    Overall, writers on the management of oil resources focus on attendant violent armed
    conflicts, the financial worth of oil theft, suppression, exploitation and environmental
    degradation. These studies suggest that oil abundance has become a curse in Nigeria in general
    and the Niger Delta in particular. However, the relationship between the dynamics of oil
    resource management and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, is yet to be given adequate
    systematic scrutiny between 1999 and 2011. This study is poised to investigate and fill this gap
    in the literature.
    1.6 Theoretical Framework
    This study adopts the political economy approach. As noted by Momoh and Hundeyin
    (2000:38) political economy is “a technical and yet quite useful tool of scientific analysis. It
    provides for a holistic study of issues, phenomena and policies in any society”. There are
    different political economy models of analysis. However, this study appropriates the most
    popular strand of political economy, which is the Marxist perspective. Its main argument is
    51
    summarized by the famous statement by Karl Marx in the Preface to A Contribution to the
    Critique of Political Economy. According to Marx (1970: 20-21):
    In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite
    relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production
    appropriate to a given stage in their development of material forces of
    production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the
    economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal
    and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social
    consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the
    general process of social, political and intellectual life.
    Marx strongly argued that the economic structure of society significantly influences the
    character of the superstructure which includes the political, legal, cultural and religious
    relations and institutions of society. But this does not imply a unidirectional model. Account is
    also taken of dialectical relations; a form of feedback process in which the superstructure also
    influences the economic substructure. Marx further noted that the application of political
    economy approach involves the following critical issues:
    i. Examination of the state as the epitome of bourgeois society especially analysis of its
    relation to itself;
    ii. Analysis of the categories which constitutes the internal structure of the bourgeoisie
    society and on which the principal classes are based;
    iii. International conditions of production such as international division of labour,
    international exchange, export and import, rate of exchange;
    iv. World market crises; and
    v. General abstract definition.
    As a tool for social research, Ilyin and Motyler (1986:30) argued that the central focus
    of political economy is the “studies of the relations of production in their complex interaction
    with the productive forces and the superstructure”. Political economy uses dialectical
    materialism as its methodological approach of inquiry. It takes off from materialist
    understanding of history and brings out the inner driving forces in the interaction of the
    52
    productive forces and the relations of productions. Ake (1981) provided hypotheses for
    understanding both the nature of African politics and the travails of post-colonial capitalist state
    in Africa. He argues that the nature and structure of the economy, the availability or
    unavailability of resources, the size and nature of the elites competing for it, and the level of
    development or its absence, have implications for the nature of a given country’s politics. The
    fundamental theoretical proposition of the political economy approach, therefore is that:
    Once we understand what the material assets and constraints of a society are,
    how the society produces goods to meet its material needs, how the goods are
    distributed, and what types of social [criminal and prebendal] relations arise
    from the organisation of production, we have come a long way to understanding
    the culture of that society, its laws, its religious system, its political system and
    even its modes of thought (Ake, 1981:1).
    In other words, understanding the productions and production relations of a society is
    the basis for understanding its political system. As a theoretical approach to the study of social
    phenomenon, political economy is anchored on four methodological assumptions. First, is that
    it gives primacy to material conditions, particularly economic factors, in the explanation of
    social life. Hence it advocates for particular attention to be paid to the economic substructure of
    society, and indeed use it as the point of departure for studying other aspects of society.
    Second, it emphasizes the dynamic character of reality. This requires that the analyst views
    society as something which is full of movement and dynamism, the movement and dynamism
    being provided by the contradictions which pervade existence. Third, it focuses on the
    relatedness of different elements of society, especially economic structure, social structure,
    political structure and the belief system. According to this theory, it is the economic factor
    which is the most decisive of all these elements of society and which largely determine the
    character of the others. That is not to say that the economic structure is autonomous and strictly
    determines the others. All the social structures are interdependent and interact in complex
    ways. Each one of them affects the character of every other one and is in turn affected by it’.
    53
    Fourth, it treats problems concretely rather than abstractly, by adopting a developmental
    perspective. By putting social phenomenon in the context of their development, this theory
    enables us to understand not only how social phenomenon come to be what they are, but also to
    make reasonable conjecture as to what they might become.
    From Ake (1981:1-8), Alemika and Chukwuma (2000:4), (West, 2006:2-3) and Norad
    (2010:7-10), the central propositions of the political economy framework as it relates to our
    study could be synthesised as follows:
    i. The centrality of the state and its apparatuses as the main instrument of primitive
    accumulation especially by the dominant class and their collaborators.
    ii. Concerned first and foremost with power and interests. It analyses social and
    political processes as the outcome of struggles for control over resources and
    positions.
    iii. Treat the economy and the political as monolithic units that continue to exact
    remarkable influence on each other. Hence the intricate linkages between
    political and economic structures determine society’s general values, cultures
    and norms as well as the direction and practice of governance.
    iv. The primacy of material condition of society. Individual or collective social
    attitudes or behaviours are conditioned by the realities of production,
    distribution and exchange in society. Hence, conflicts and criminality emerge
    not only in response to opportunities, but also as a process that continually seeks
    to undermine the state due to contradictions inherent in its economy.
    v. The relatedness of different elements of society, especially economic structure,
    social structure, political structure, the belief system and even the environment.
    vi. Integrates analysis of the domestic productive structure and relations with
    international structure, relations and transactions, including understanding the
    nature of international division of labour, international exchange, world market
    and crises.
    Application of the Theory
    This theory is fecund in analysing oil resources management and illegal oil bunkering in
    Nigeria by focusing on the structure and dynamics of primitive capital accumulation in the oilbased
    Nigerian state. The framework will not only enhance our appreciation of the intricacies
    of illegal oil bunkering prevalent in Nigeria’s capitalist oil industry, but will help in revealing
    54
    how the incorporation of Nigeria into the global capitalist system and the nature and character
    of the operation of the oil industry provides the context for primitive capital accumulation by
    groups, oil multinationals and individuals.
    First, the political economy approach emphasises the place and centrality of the State
    and its apparatuses as the main instrument of primitive accumulation especially by the
    dominant class and their collaborators in a capitalist society. Nigeria was the creation of the
    (British) colonial state. Through its coercive apparatus, the colonial state defined Nigeria
    territorially, and forcefully integrated the various political forms and pre-capitalist modes at
    different stages of development into the global capitalist system. In this way, “the Nigerian
    colonial state served the interests of global accumulation at the periphery through the local
    extraction and transfer of resources to the metropolis” (Obi, 2003:263). This implied that under
    colonialism, state power was used for primitive capital accumulation. At independence, “the
    emergent ruling class was more interested in reproducing the neo-colonial character of the state
    and the conditions for their domination, and continued the use of state power for primitive
    capital accumulation” (Ifesinachi, 2006:2).
    As a result of this colonial experience, the privatisation of the state for primitive
    accumulation became a defining character of the Nigerian state. In Nigeria, politics is largely
    seen as a means of accumulating wealth; and because the state is the object of political
    competition and medium for the allocation of resources, it has been effectively used to achieve
    the goal of primitive accumulation. The result is the privatisation of the state by custodians of
    power at all levels of governance (federal, state and local) and its consequent utilisation for the
    pursuit of individual, sectional and ethno-regional interests; as against the pursuit of common
    interests or the public good (Ibaba, 2008; Ake 2001, Ekekwe 1986; Oyovbaire 1980). As
    elaborated by Ikelegbe (2008:111), being “a neo-colonial capitalist peripheral economy, the
    state remained controlled by a dependent comprador ruling class, which is accumulative,
    55
    parasitic, violent, exploitative, corrupt, profligate and unproductive, depending largely on oil
    rent for capital accumulation”.
    With the discovery and ascendancy of oil in post-colonial Nigerian economy, the
    character of the state and emergent ruling class did not change. In pursuit of its capital
    accumulation objective, the state increased its involvement in the oil industry by entering into
    joint venture partnership with the oil majors as majority shareholder. Its majority shareholding
    in the oil majors did not amount to its control of the oil industry. Its role was largely limited to
    the issuance of oil blocks and the collection of rents. However, it brought the state and the oil
    majors into an intimate relationship. Thus, the Nigerian State shares a common interest with the
    oil multinationals in the accumulation of capital at the least possible cost (Owugah, 2008).
    Naturally, it is in the oil sector that the unbridled acquisitive instinct for primitive
    accumulation of wealth by the ruling class and its cronies has been displayed very prominently.
    According to Omoweh (2006:49):
    Patronage has ruled the operations of both the up- and down-stream sectors of
    the country’s oil and gas industry since 1960 when Nigeria gained political
    independence… Virtually all the nation’s past and present heads of state and
    presidents have been indicted as major players either directly or by proxy in the
    country’s energy sector. They have, both when in office and after retirement,
    continued to maintain strong links with the oil sector, deciding who gets which
    oil blocks and its renewal, licenses to lift crude oil and refined petroleum
    products, among others.
    This firm grip on the oil sector by successive regime heads in Nigeria has been
    responsible for the violence and insecurity that confronts the Nigerian State essentially because
    conflicts and criminality erupt when citizens aggrieved over prolong injustice and poor
    governance begin to violently demand for change and challenge the authority of the state
    (Ezirim, 2011). The ruling elite in Nigeria has apportioned to themselves the largesse that
    trickles down from the rentier dynamics of the state such that they engage directly with the
    MNCs, thus giving them the opportunity to distribute oil wealth to themselves and their cronies
    in the form of sale of oil blocks. The huge amount of money made from these helps them to
    56
    become the power base of the society and therefore, in a prebendal mode of behaviour
    determines who gets what, when and how (Joseph, 1987; Sandbakken 2006; Thurber et al.
    2010, Ezirim, 2011).
    As rightly noted by Norad (2010:12), “to stay in power, the rulers may instead rely on
    strategies of patronage, crime, corruption, aid, or mineral extraction”. In the case of Nigeria,
    those in authority are able to maintain their hold on power and protect their vast economic
    interests and those of the oil multinationals through the patronage allocation of oil blocks,
    which usually are at variance with the interests of ordinary masses especially the oil host
    communities. This state of affairs has exposed the crisis of the Nigerian State, underpinning
    citizens’ resort to opportunism and criminality in the form of oil banditry – illegal oil
    bunkering, maritime piracy, oil pipeline vandalisation, attack on oil-laden vessels, and seizure
    of oil platforms.
    Characteristic of the level of oil banditry that ensued was the emergence and activities
    of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). MEND is/was an
    amorphous militant group waging a violent campaign in the impoverished Niger Delta
    region. The operational tactics of the militant groups included hostage-taking of oil workers,
    sabotage of oil facilities, attacks on oil vessels, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and ransom
    receipts, among others. This development negatively impacted on oil production in the region.
    This has been corroborated by Bischoff (2010:4), who posited that “the insurgency led by
    MEND and its affiliates has since 2006 almost halved oil production in the Delta Region.
    Before 2006, Nigeria was producing about 2.6 million bpd. However, after several crippling
    attacks by militants, the figure came down to 1.5 million bpd”. This experience clearly shows
    that patronage allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host communities
    in the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry.
    57
    Another proposition of the political economy approach is the emphasis on the material
    condition of society. Hence it advocates for particular attention to be paid to the economic
    substructure of society, and indeed use it as the point of departure for studying other aspects of
    society. In this connection, individual or collective social attitudes or behaviours whether
    violent or non-violent are products of the material conditions of any given society. The
    discovery of oil in Nigeria, coupled with its ascendancy as the major foreign exchange earner
    for the nation, has led to the aggressive expansion of the oil industry, serviced by 105
    kilometers of pipelines for condensates, 1,896 kilometers for natural gas, 3,638 kilometers for
    oil, and 3,626 kilometers for refined products. The oil pipelines and other-related infrastructure
    transverse through the length and breadth of the Niger Delta region, thereby making them
    integral part of the Niger Delta environment.
    Since the Niger Delta is the host of Nigeria’s oil wealth, it is expected that the region
    will benefit from the enormous wealth generated by the Nigerian state from oil extraction. As
    noted by Ugwuanyi (2011), many years of oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta have
    generated billions of dollars in revenue for the government. However, the majority of the 30
    million people living in the region remain poor and unemployed. Frustrated by the lack of
    benefits from oil production, youths and sometimes oil-host communities have targeted the
    operations of MNOCs protesting the degradation of their natural environment and demanding
    better social services and a greater share of oil revenues.
    Ordinarily, the state’s interests in exploitation of oil should be to enable it fulfil its
    obligation of ensuring the socio-economic well-being as well as the personal and property
    security of its citizens. In this regard, the protection of the natural environment upon which the
    local people depend for livelihood security and survival should be of utmost interest to the
    state. Instead, the Nigerian state’s role has been to enable those in power and in top positions to
    enrich themselves through primitive accumulation of oil wealth. They see the realization of the
    58
    interests of the citizens, especially the oil-host communities, as a threat to the realisation of
    theirs. For them, the provision of basic amenities such as good roads, electricity, pipe borne
    water, healthcare, affordable education, environmental remediation, and employment
    opportunities for the people would cut into the amount they intend to accumulate for their selfenrichment.
    This is because the fulfilment of its obligation of ensuring the well-being of its
    citizens is not a major priority of the ruling class. Hence, the measures taken by the state and
    the oil companies to actualize their accumulation drive were largely at the expense of the
    fulfilment of the expectations of the oil producing communities. This is evident in the failure of
    MNCs to adhere strictly to environmental best practices in the exploitation of oil. The result is
    the degradation of the environment of the oil host communities of the Niger Delta.
    Instead of rising to protect the interest of the local people by ensuring that MNCs
    adhere strictly to environmental regulations that preserve the quality of the environment, the
    Nigerian state colludes with the MNCs to deprive oil host communities of their environmental
    rights. This is hardly surprising given that the role of the Nigerian state as orchestrated by the
    indigenous ruling class is to maintain and consolidate the capitalist mode of production, and in
    the process dispossessing the oil-bearing communities their rights through various obnoxious
    laws.
    With the expansion of oil production and declining adherence to environmental best
    practices in resource extraction, the incidence of environmental degradation has increased
    considerably in the region due to oil spills. Spills occur accidentally and through the deliberate
    actions of the people, who sabotage pipelines in protest against the operations of the oil
    industry. Available records show that a total of 6,817 oil spills occurred between 1976 and
    2001, with a loss of approximately three million barrels of oil (UNDP, 2006).
    The oil-host communities whose lands and water are being exploited and polluted
    hardly get commensurate benefit from the oil wealth. Rather in “the midst of plenty, majority
    59
    suffer from poverty, squalor, unemployment and misery” (Iruonagbe, 2008:640). This
    exemplifies the material conditions of host communities of oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
    Thus the resort to environmental degradation or resource control protests by the youths and oil
    host communities in the Niger Delta is a logical outcome of a systematic but prolonged period
    of the neglect, deprivation and poverty visited on the people of the oil producing communities
    by the Nigerian state. This largely defines the nature of the contradictions driving the struggle
    for access to oil wealth, which also manifests in spiral violent protests and agitations in the oilrich
    region. These violent protests and agitations in turn create and reinforce an atmosphere of
    chaos that permits high rate of vandalisation of oil infrastructure – pipelines, wellheads and
    manifolds, among others – to tap and sale petroleum products.
    The logical deduction therefore is that the prevailing pattern of production, distribution
    and exchange in the Nigerian society which is characterised by exploitation, marginalisation
    and dispossession underpins societal contradictions that usually manifest in criminality,
    insecurity and conflicts. Therefore, conflicts, violence and “criminality in the Niger Delta
    emerge not only in response to opportunities, but also as a process that continually seeks to
    undermine the state due to contradictions inherent in its economy” (West, 2006:1).
    In view of this, the issue of hazardous oil transactions such as pipeline vandalisation
    and artisanal refining of stolen crude oil which contribute significantly to the degradation of the
    environment are located within the context of the struggle for access to, and benefit from, oil
    wealth. Media reports show that the Niger Delta environment is increasingly being affected by
    oil spills from pipeline sabotage, vandalisation and artisanal refining of stolen oil (Nigerian
    Compass, 2011, Ogoigbe, 2011; Amanze-Nwachukwu, 2011). While unrests in the region have
    considerably declined since the 2009 Presidential Amnesty initiative, crude oil theft and illegal
    refining of petroleum products have persisted as many of the perpetrators regard their criminal
    act as a way of cutting their own proverbial National Cake. In other words, those who are
    60
    involved in protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta are
    wilfully or inadvertently indulging in acts that destroy the very environment they make claims
    over its despoliation by MNOCs.
    As of January 2010, it was reported that about 878 of illegal refineries have been
    destroyed by the JTF in the Niger Delta region. Over 12 of these illicit refineries were
    destroyed in January 2009 alone, and 150 were destroyed in November 2009 (Ukudolo, 2010).
    Consequently, explosions from ruptured oil pipelines and the operation of illegal refineries
    have often led to the death of those involved in these acts as well as innocent people not
    involved in the hazardous oil transactions. More so, the ecology is destroyed when oil leaks
    from vandalised pipelines or when criminal gangs locally refine stolen crude oil and recklessly
    dump effluents on lands and water in the region. The scenario clearly shows that protests over
    oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to the proliferation of illegal oil
    refineries in the Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011.
    Another proposition of the theory emphasises the integration of an analysis of the
    domestic productive structure and relations with international structure, relations and
    transactions, including understanding the nature of international division of labour,
    international exchange, world market and crises. This suggests that every capitalist economy is
    connected to the global capitalist system of production characterised by international division
    of labour, international exchange, and trade. This proposition leads the research to examine the
    issue of the domestic productive structure of Nigeria (in this case, the structure of its oil-based
    economy) and how it is connected to the global political economy by transnational actors and
    structures.
    In this regard, Nigeria’s oil industry operates in partnership with MNOCs that dominate
    the technology of oil production, alongside the global shipping powers and navies that ply and
    patrol the maritime oil supply routes. In this way, the country’s oil economy is locked into
    61
    complex and opaque transnational ties with global forces based largely on the joint exploitation
    of oil ‘enclave investments’ (Ferguson 2005). The reality is that MNOCs largely dominates the
    sophisticated technology, management skills and globally integrated operations of the upstream
    section of the oil industry in Nigeria, giving them considerable leverage in dealing with the
    ‘revenue-collecting’ oil-dependent Nigerian state as well as building save haven for sharp
    practices such as excess oil lifting/illegal bunkering (Asuni, 2009).
    The nature of Nigeria’s oil industry and consequent integration into the global capitalist
    economy has ensured the existence of international structures and ties that facilitates oil-based
    leakages. As highlighted by Obi (2010a:487)
    The transnational nature of extractive oil actors operating in oil-producing
    enclaves such as the Niger Delta underscores the point that the global
    political economy plays a defining role in power and social relations around
    oil and its ‘curse’. Therefore the oil curse is not entirely internal to the oilrich
    state, nor is the conflict or corruption limited to local and state actors,
    rather it is embedded in the commodification of oil by transnational
    economic forces as an object of high profit and strategic value in the global
    market, making such actors central to the negative spin-offs from globalised
    oil extraction.
    Crude oil or petroleum is widely considered the most viable source of energy in the
    world. It is the energy lynchpin around which modern capitalism and consumerism as a global
    system revolve. Oil is a key element of global power. Thus, the stakes in controlling or
    obtaining oil are very high, and constitute a core interest of the world’s powers. It also means
    that “Nigeria as a valued source of oil and a gas supply is central to the strategic calculations of
    the world’s oil-dependent dominant powers” (Obi, 2010a:485). This is all the more so because
    Nigeria is the most prolific oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its ‘light and sweet crude’,
    also called ‘Bonny Light’, is well sought after in the international oil market. This means that
    whether legally or illicitly obtained, a market for its sale is almost guaranteed.
    For this and other reasons, the outbreak and persistence of oil theft in the Niger Delta
    strictly speaking is not the inevitable outcome of purely internal predatory activities of a few
    62
    elite or criminal gangs in Nigeria. It encompasses a complex web of transnational-local
    linkages and ties to the global market in the form of MNOCs, international shipping lines,
    foreign businessmen and refineries, among others. Therefore, it is the existence of “these
    transnational ties or forces and their local partners – the ruling elites in Nigeria that have
    subordinated Nigeria’s oil more to the interest of a globally integrated oil market, and less with
    the demands and interests of local people and economies” (Obi, 2010a:489). In this
    connection, Bayart, Ellis and Hibou (1999:9) contend that “the relationship between
    accumulation and power is henceforth situated in a context of internationalisation and of
    growth of organised crime on a probably unprecedented scale”. The world system is subject to
    a simultaneous process of globalisation and loss of precise territorial definition, which may not
    lead to the eclipse of the state as an organ of power, but which is most surely leading to the
    development of transitional relations between societies. Criminal activities (such as illegal oil
    trade) are greatly affected by this evolution, and quite often they thrive in this environment.
    One of the consequences of this particular conjecture of factors is the erosion of the
    legitimacy of the Nigerian state. The Nigerian State has, rather than serving as a vehicle for
    development, been hijacked by a group who have turned the national economy into a tool for
    capital accumulation (Mariamaina, 2011). Due to the corruption of its leaders, the state lacks
    credible legitimacy to stop oil thieves. The result is that sophisticated syndicates involving
    political actors, state officials, oil company staff, armed youth groups and the security agencies
    are implicated in illegal oil bunkering.
    For instance, on 16 September 2010, the Nigerian Navy arrested three vessels, namely,
    MT Onne, MT Dominion and MT Theresa, involved in illegal oil bunkering within the
    Nigerian coastal areas (Bergen Risk Solutions, 2011). It was found that MT Dominion has
    document belonging to MT Blessing and MT Theresa was with documents belonging to MT
    Panafric Explorer: a wanted vessel that absconded after committing an economic crime in
    63
    Lagos waters before being arrested in Bonny Fairway Buoy. One of the arrested vessels
    allegedly possessed some substances suspected to be crude oil, which confirmed the vessel’s
    involvement in illegal oil bunkering. Similarly in December 2011, the Nigerian Maritime
    Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) arrested and detained a vessel, MT BEE, for
    engaging in illegal bunkering in Nigeria territorial waters. The vessel had 17,000 tonnes of
    petroleum products on-board as at the time of its arrest and was operating without any valid
    documentation for its cargo. Some of these vessels are not registered in Nigeria. For instance, it
    was discovered that the original name of the “MT BEE” which was arrested in December 2011
    was “MT BEAVER”. Also, of the twenty five crew members onboard the vessel, only one was
    a Nigerian with the other twenty four being Philipinos (Bivbere and Ejoh, 2012).
    The intermittent arrests of vessels involved in illegal oil bunkering, however, mask the
    reality that corruption in the security agencies helps to sustain the trade. In a United States
    diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks in 2010, it was alleged that politicians, retired
    admirals, generals and others members of the country’s elite profit from of oil thefts or illegal
    oil bunkering (Amanze-Nwachukwu, 2011). In 2006, for instance, seven admirals and three
    captains were retired from the Nigerian Navy because of their complicity in the disappearance
    of the oil-laden ship, NN African Pride, which was undergoing investigation for involvement in
    illegal oil bunkering (Ojiabor, 2007:8). Thus, by considering illegal oil bunkering to be a result
    of some particular forms of connections and relations between some actors in Nigeria and those
    in the international market, this theory shows that leakages in the control of illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta sustained an international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian
    coastal waters between 1999 and 2011.
    The conclusion that emerges from this theoretical standpoint is that the analysis of
    illegal oil bunkering cannot be carried out independently from the analysis of the arbitrary
    management of oil resources which has significantly shaped the political and economic
    64
    structures of the capitalist Nigerian state, including its consequences for the natural
    environment or ecology of the Niger Delta. Therefore, the contending forces over access to oil,
    the locus of power, extraction, and accumulation of resources, constitute the theoretical
    elements that must be objectively confronted in seeking to understand the patronage dynamics
    of oil resources management and the resultant illicit oil transactions (illegal oil bunkering and
    oil theft) in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region between 1999 and 2011.
    1.7 Hypotheses
    Based on the foregoing, the working hypotheses that guide this study are as follows:
  10. Allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host communities in the
    Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011.
  11. Protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011.
  12. Security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustained an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011.
    1.8 Methods of Data Collection
    The method of data collection for this study is the qualitative method and field research.
    Thus, qualitative data refers to some collection of words, symbols, pictures, or other nonnumerical
    records, materials or artefacts by a researcher that has relevance to the social group
    under study. The uses for these data go beyond simple description of events and phenomena;
    rather, they are used for creating understanding, for subjective interpretation, and for critical
    analysis as well. Such data could be gathered from books, journals, newspapers, magazines,
    reports, and bulletins, among others.
    65
    Also documents, statistics and tables were sourced from the Nigerian National
    Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Central Bank of Nigeria
    (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); the Nigerian
    Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI); the Nigerian Institute of International
    Affairs (NIIA) Lagos; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Abuja; and National
    Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
    Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic
    disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences. Qualitative method is a non-numerical data
    collection. The method aims to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour and the
    reasons that govern such behaviour. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of
    decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more
    often needed, rather than large samples. The qualitative method produces information only on
    the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Burnham et
    al (2005:31) sees the qualitative method as “very attractive in that it involves collecting
    information in depth but form a relatively small number of cases”. He further noted that
    “analytic induction is often used by qualitative researchers in their efforts to generalize about
    social behaviour. Concepts are developed intuitively from the data, and are then defined,
    refined and their implications deduced from the data” (Burnham et al, 2004:41).
    In line with the qualitative method, the researcher gathered further data through
    unstructured interviews with some senior manpower of relevant agencies in the security sector
    – Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Navy; and the Joint Task
    Force (JTF). Experts have noted that unstructured interviews or open-ended instruments “are
    especially useful when not much is known about an intellectual problem, when holistic
    information is needed, and especially when the respondent’s own frame of reference is
    required” (Leege and Francis, 1974:196). In this case, the investigator presents the subject with
    66
    a question, usually fairly direct, designed to simulate verbal response about the topic (Zikmund,
    and Babin 2010; Leege and Francis, 1974). This took the form of conversation in which the
    researcher probes deeply to cover new clues, to open up new dimensions of a problem, or to
    secure vivid, accurate and detailed accounts that are based on the interviewee’s personal
    experience of the subject under investigation (Zikmund, and Babin 2010). Table 1.1
    summarises our interview schedule and the lead questions asked to the respondents.
    Table 1.1: Summary of Target Respondents and Lead Questions for Field Research
    Population Sample Some Lead Questions Posed to Target Respondents
    Nigerian Navy
    10
  13. Can you throw more light on how organised cartel
    involved in illegal oil bunkering carry out their activities
    in Nigerian waters?
  14. While on sea patrol, have your team confronted or
    arrested vessels for illegal oil transactions in Nigerian
    waters?
  15. Besides Nigerians, are there people of other nationalities
    arrested for illegal oil bunkering in Nigerian waters?
  16. What do you do with persons and vessels arrested for
    illegal oil bunkering in Nigerian waters?
  17. What challenges hamper Nigerian Navy’s effort to
    maintain presence at sea to effectively deal with illicit
    maritime activities?
  18. Does the Nigerian Navy cooperate with other security
    agencies/countries in dealing with illegal oil bunkering?
  19. Do you think that maritime security agencies are
    cooperating well enough to deal with illegal oil
    bunkering? If yes, how? And if no, why?
  20. Are their case(s) of complicity of security agents in acts
    of oil theft/illegal oil bunkering that you are aware of?
    67
    Joint Task Force
    (Operation Restore Hope)
    10
  21. Can you give me an insight into how criminal gangs steal
    and refine crude oil in the creeks of the Niger Delta?
  22. What challenges hinders the effort of the JTF in
    combating pipeline vandalisation, oil theft and artisanal
    refining of stolen oil in your area of responsibility?
  23. Do you think that security agencies are cooperating well
    enough to deal with oil theft in the Niger Delta? If yes,
    how are they cooperating; and if no why?
  24. Does the JTF cooperate with other agencies or
    institutions to combat illicit oil transactions in the region?
  25. Are their case(s) of complicity of security agents in acts
    of oil theft/pipeline vandalisation that you are aware of?
  26. Was any disciplinary action taken against the accused
    security agent?
  27. What do you do with persons and barges arrested for oil
    theft?
  28. Are there other things you think I should know regarding
    oil theft for the purposes of my research that have not
    been captured in our conversation?
    Source: Researcher’s Fieldwork 2011-2012.
    In this way, “the subjects are encouraged to tell their own stories in their own words
    with prompting from the researcher” (Zikmund and Babin, 2010:111). Depending on their
    answers, some follow up questions were asked to gain more insight into the subject of concern
    to the researcher. Leege and Francis (1974:196) underscored the utility of this strategy in these
    very words:
    Probing often allows the investigator to discover the extent to which an
    attitude or opinion is informed by knowledge. Furthermore, if good
    rapport develops in the interview, the respondent is quite likely to drop his
    guard and offer all manner of information which would not likely be
    offered the crisp, mechanical response to fixed-alternative items; under
    these circumstances reliability and validity will be enhanced.
    The sampling technique used in selecting the respondents is the purposive sampling.
    Purposive sampling relies on the judgement of the researcher when it comes to selecting the
    units – e.g. people, cases/organisations, events, pieces of data – that are to be studied or
    interviewed. The main goal of purposive sampling is to focus on particular characteristics of a
    population that are of interest, which will best enable you to answer your research questions
    (see Patton, 1990; Kuzel, 1999). More specifically, the study adopted expert sampling, which is
    a type of purposive sampling technique that is used when the researcher needs to glean
    68
    knowledge from individuals that have particular expertise. Expert sampling is particularly
    useful where there is a lack of empirical evidence in an area and high levels of uncertainty, as
    well as situations where it may take a long period of time before the findings from research can
    be uncovered (Lund, 2010).
    Expert sampling is particularly germane in investigating the third hypothesis of the
    study, which centred on the relationship between security leakages in the control of illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta and the sustenance of an international market for illegal oil trade
    in Nigerian coastal waters. The reality of illegal oil bunkering, including the existence of an
    international market for illegal oil trade, plays out much at the high seas: a domain far removed
    from public scrutiny. Thus, officers of the Nigerian Navy and the JTF are people with good
    knowledge of the intricacies of this form of offshore criminal activity. It is primarily, but not
    exclusively, from them that the researcher can gather more information regarding the issue. The
    advantages of this approach are that issues can be probed, answers can be clarified, and
    sensitive information may be obtained.
    The researcher sampled the views of officers of the various security agencies – NN and
    the JTF – who have either gone on surveillance or anti-illegal oil bunkering missions in
    Nigerian waters or senior officers occupying strategic level position who are vastly
    knowledgeable on the subject of illicit oil transactions. The limitation of the adopted sampling
    technique is the possibility of respondents showing prejudices or withholding information due
    to the sensitive nature of the subject. However, this limitation was overcomed through logical
    interpretation of investigative reports on illegal bunkering gleaned from Newspapers and
    Magazines.
    1.8.1 Research Design
    This research is based on the single case ex post facto design. An ex post facto design is
    used when experimental research is not possible, such as when people have self-selected levels
    69
    of an independent variable or when a treatment is naturally occurring and the researcher could
    not “control” the degree of its use. The researcher starts by specifying a dependent variable and
    then tries to identify possible reasons for its occurrence. This type of study is very useful when
    using human subjects in real-world situations and the investigator comes in “after the fact.”
    That is why the researcher needs to establish a plausible reason (research hypothesis) for why
    there might be a relationship between two variables before conducting a study (Diem, 2002).
    Cohen and Manion (1980) define the ex post facto design as those studies which
    investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by observing an existing condition and
    searching back in time for plausible causal factors. According to Kerlinger (1973), the ex post
    facto design is a form of descriptive research in which an independent variable has already
    occurred and in which an investigator starts with the observation of a dependent variable; he
    then studies the independent variable in retrospect for its possible relationship to and effects on
    the dependent variable.
    This research design is very relevant to our study given the nature of the phenomena
    under investigation. In the context of this study, the issue of oil resources management and
    illegal oil bunkering are naturally occurring events that the researcher cannot control, which
    makes the ex post facto design more apt in this study. In this design, an existing case is
    observed for some time in order to ‘study’ or ‘evaluate’ it. Thus, there is no control or variation
    group in this design. There are series of “before’ observations and one case (subject) and series
    of “after” observations.
    Where:
    = Observation
    = Random assignment of subjects to groups and random assignment of
    treatments to groups.
    = Independent variable which is manipulated
    R B1 B2 B3 X A1 A2 A3
    O
    R
    X
    70
    = Independent variable
    = Before observation
    = First observation, that is prior to 1999.
    = Second observation, 1999-2011
    = Third observation, 2011- 2012
    = After observation in 1999
    = After observation in 2011
    = After observation 2012
    = Time order of observations, before and after
    The analytical routines involved in testing structural causality based on ex post facto
    analysis of the independent variable (X) and the dependent variable (Y) is based on
    concomitant variation. This is to demonstrate that (X) is the factor that determines (Y). This
    also legitimately infers that (X) does or does not enter into the determination of (Y). This infers
    that whenever (X) occurs there is likelihood that (Y) will follow at some point later. The
    criteria for inferring causality have been summarized by Selltiz et al (1976) as follows:
    (a) Co-variation between the presumed cause and presumed effect.
    (b) Proper time order, with the cause preceding the effect.
    (c) Elimination of plausible alternative explanations for the observed relationship.
    This design will guide us in testing the hypothesis which involves observing the
    independent variable (oil resource management) and dependent variable (illegal oil bunkering)
    at the same time because the effects of the former on the latter have already taken place before
    B
    Y
    1,2,3
    A1
    B1
    B2
    B3
    A2
    A3
    71
    this investigation. Randomized judgmental selections of series of “before” and “after”
    observations of the variables in Nigeria were used to test the hypotheses.
    In conducting our investigation, therefore, our first observation is on the nature of the
    management of oil resources before 1999, under military regimes. It was observed that the
    management of oil resources was largely restricted to the few military elite and their political
    cohorts. As a result, there was overwhelming control and centralised of appropriation of oil
    wealth by the military leadership. This accounts for why successive military Heads of State
    were alleged to have massively looted the treasury, in the absence of any strong democratic
    institutional oversight. While President Ibrahim Babangida was reported to have frittered away
    $12 billion oil windfall during the Gulf War in 1992, his successor, General Sani Abacha, was
    reputed to have stolen between $4-5 billion between 1994 and 1998 (Fagbadebo, 2007;
    Akomaye, 2007). Hence, much of Nigeria, especially the oil producing region, was denied of
    any development benefits. The mismanagement of enormous oil revenue amidst growing
    environmental degradation in the Niger Delta propelled oil host communities to start staging
    peaceful protests and demonstrations to get the oil companies and the Nigerian state to pay
    adequate attention to the plights of the region. These agitations however did not degenerate into
    petro-insurgency, partly because of the peculiar nature of military which is mainly autocratic
    and not elected by the people.
    Our second observation is on oil resources management and illegal oil bunkering within
    the Obasanjo’s administration in Nigeria (1999-2007). It was within this period that prolonged
    peaceful agitation over the inability of the new democratic government to provide oil-bearing
    communities with commensurate development programmes gave way to petro-insurgency and
    criminality. With the return to democracy, it was expected that the style of management of oil
    resources would be more responsive in a manner that ensures the provision of benefits to oil
    host communities. Instead, the new civilian administration continued with the prebendal
    72
    management of oil resources by allocating oil blocks to party loyalists, relatives and associates
    of top government officials. The non-transparent management of oil resources meant that
    benefits that should go to oil communities were appropriated by the ruling class. This propelled
    oil host communities to engage in oil banditry both as a form of protest against the deprivation
    of oil benefit and a means to livelihood. While the dimension of protest assumed the form of
    blowing up of oil facilities and hostage-taking of oil workers, the aspect of livelihood
    opportunity manifested clearly in illegal oil bunkering, artisanal refining of stolen crude oil and
    vandalisation of petroleum products pipelines. For example, the vandalisation of pipeline to
    steal crude oil and refined petroleum products jumped from 461 cases in 2001 to 3,224 in 2007
    (NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2010)
    Our third observation deals with the period 2007-2011, when Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s
    administration adopted political compromise as a major policy masterstroke in addressing some
    of the problems that underpinned crisis and criminality in the Niger Delta region. Of note are
    the creation of the Ministry of the Niger Delta on September 2008 and the granting of amnesty
    on August 2009. In view of the sustenance of the amnesty programme and other development
    interventions by Jonathan’s administration, the situation in the Niger Delta has improved
    considerably. This is evident in the significant reduction in the level of violent attacks on oil
    pipelines and infrastructure, translating to an increase in oil production from below 2 million
    bpd in 2006 to around 2.6 million bpd by March 2011 (Brock, 2011). Also, the rate of pipeline
    vandalisation declined from 3,224 cases in 2007 to 1,937 in 2010 (NNPC Annual Statistical
    Bulletin, 2010). However, the problem of oil banditry, environmentally hazardous oil
    transactions and market for illegal oil trade still exist in the region because there has not been
    any significant shift in the pattern of oil resources management away from patronage dynamics
    to a development-driven approach.
    73
    In this wise, this study is anchored on three hypotheses which seek to establish whether
    or not there is a link between allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class and oil
    banditry by host communities in the Niger Delta; protests over oil environmental degradation
    and proliferation of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta; and security leakages in the control of
    illegal oil business in the Niger Delta and sustenance of an international market for illegal oil
    trade in Nigerian coastal waters. These hypotheses are couched in relational terms; that is,
    dependent and independent variables. The usefulness of relational categorisation of variables
    lies in its general applicability, simplicity and special importance in conceptualising and
    designing research as well as communicating the results of research (Kerlinger 1973:35). These
    hypotheses and the main indicators of the major variables are contained in the Logical Data
    Framework.
    1.8.2 Method of Data Analysis
    The collection of data is only an aspect of the requirements for the validation or
    otherwise of hypotheses. The data so collected must be systematically analysed to demonstrate
    the relationship amongst variables. The data was analysed in the tradition of qualitative
    descriptive research with the application of ex post facto research design. Qualitativedescriptive
    is suitable for analysing data collected through qualitative methods. According to
    Iwueze (2009) qualitative method aims at understanding through examinations, description and
    interpretation of documented evidence, data and information from secondary sources.
    Qualitative-descriptive analysis is, therefore, a descriptive verbal analysis, which involves
    interpretation and explanation of not just qualitative data but quantitative data as well. Use of
    statistical analysis such as simple percentages to demonstrate frequency and trends in
    74
    vandalisation of oil pipelines was adopted. The analysis and presentation of the data was done
    within the ambit of the political economy theoretical framework using statistical tables,
    graphics and maps to illuminate facts where and when necessary. Our logical data framework,
    which is presented below, served as the framework for our design and logic of analysis.
    Table 1.2: Logical Data Framework (LDF)
    Research
    Questions
    Hypotheses Variables Main Indicators Data/Source
    Did allocation of
    oil blocks to
    members of the
    ruling class lead
    oil host
    communities in
    the Niger Delta to
    engage in oil
    banditry between
    1999 and 2011
    (1) Allocation of oil
    blocks to members
    of the ruling class
    led oil host
    communities in the
    Niger Delta to
    engage in oil
    banditry
    .
    (X)
    Allocation of oil
    blocs to members
    of the ruling class
    Award of oil blocs to the rich
    on the basis of prebendalism,
    favouristism and clientelism;
    • Government officials issuing
    oil license to their cronies and
    relatives based on prebendal
    and patron-client networks;
    • Allocation of oil license to
    some companies that lacked
    the technology, expertise and
    capital for oil exploitation.
    • Government officials issuing
    oil blocs to political loyalists
    and regional elite
    • Petitions by aggrieved oil
    companies against nontransparent
    procedure in the
    NNPC records and
    reports
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    Reports of
    committees and
    panels
    101
    allocation of oil blocs
    • Revocation of oil blocks issued
    through non-transparent
    process
    • Secrete allocation of oil blocks
    to friends
    • Court litigations over improper
    award or re-award of oil
    blocks
    (Y)
    Oil banditry by
    host communities
    in the Niger Delta
    • Attacks on oil pipelines and
    installations by aggrieved
    community youth and
    militants;
    • Illegal oil bunkering;
    • Oil pipeline vandalisation;
    • Sea Piracy (Attacks on oilladen
    vessels)
    • Revolt of oil host
    communities;
    • Abduction and kidnapping of
    oil workers
    Report of the
    Special Security
    Committee on Oil
    producing Areas
    (Abuja, 2002)
    NNPC Annual
    Statistical Bulletin,
    (1999 – 2011)
    Report of the
    Technical
    Committee on the
    Niger Delta
    (November 2008)
    Compilation of
    media report on
    attacks on oil
    installations in the
    Niger Delta (by the
    Researcher, 2012)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta (Port
    Harcourt, 2008)
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    magazines
    Internet sources
    Reports of
    committees and
    panels
    (2.) Did protests
    over oil
    exploitation and
    environmental
    degradation give
    (2.) Protests over
    oil exploitation
    and
    environmental
    degradation gave
    (X)
    Protests over oil
    exploitation and
    environmental
    degradation
    Emergence and Proliferation
    of Ethnic Militants who are
    demanding for greater share of
    the oil wealth;
    • Clashes between the youths
    The Kaiama
    Declaration,
    (December 1998)
    Niger Delta
    Human
    102
    rise to the
    proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in the
    Niger Delta
    between 1999 and
    2011?
    rise to the
    proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in the
    Niger Delta
    between 1999 and
    2011.
    and security agents over
    breach of Memorandum of
    Understanding by MNOCs
    • Formation of groups
    demanding end to
    environmental pollution
    • Armed youths issuing
    ultimatum to oil workers and
    MNOCs to stop oil exploitation
    • demonstration by youth
    groups over contamination of
    water and farmland due to oil
    spillages
    • Demand for oil producing
    states to collect the revenues
    from oil (in terms of rents,
    royalties, taxes and other
    payments) and pay agreed
    taxes (or contributions) to the
    federal government
    • Seizure of oil facilities by
    community youth over nonpayment
    of adequate
    compensation by oil companies
    for oil spillages
    Development
    Report, (UNDP,
    2006)
    UNEP
    Environmental
    Assessment of
    Ogoniland
    (Nairobi: UNEP,
    2011)
    NBS Social
    Statistics in
    Nigeria (NBS
    2009)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (Y)
    Proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in
    the Niger Delta
    Artisanal refining of stolen
    crude oil, called ‘cottage
    industries, such as the three
    illegal refineries around
    Odigbo, a village near the
    border between Bayelsa and
    Rivers states destroyed by the
    JTF;
    • Bursting of pipelines by
    militants and criminals gangs
    to siphon petrol, diesel and
    condensate;
    • Over 206 cases of fire outbreak
    from vandalised pipelines
    (between 2001 – 2011),
    resulting in death and bodily
    injury
    • Arrest of individuals involved
    in using drums to carry out
    rough heating up of stolen
    crude oil to produce PMS and
    AGO by the JTF;
    • Discharge of effluent and
    waste on land and water from
    NNPC Annual
    Statistical Bulletin,
    (1999 – 2011)
    Status of
    Prosecution of
    Petroleum Pipeline
    Vandals (NNPC,
    2009)
    Report of the
    Technical
    Committee on the
    Niger Delta
    (November 2008)
    Report of the
    Special Committee
    on the Review of
    Petroleum Product
    Supply and
    Distribution (Abuja,
    2000)
    Newswatch
    Magazines, “The
    Cartels Behind
    Nigeria’s Illegal
    103
    artisanal refining of stolen
    crude oil;
    • Reports of sale of adulterated
    petroleum products and
    condensates in some cities and
    towns of the Niger Delta that
    causes explosion
    • Reports of oil spillage from
    ruptured or vandalised crude
    oil pipelines and wellheads
    Refineries”
    (January 2009)
    JTF Documented
    List of Destroyed
    Illegal Refineries
    Text books and
    journal publications
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (3) Did leakages in
    the security control
    of illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    sustained an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters.
    (3) Leakages in the
    security control of
    illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    sustained an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters.
    (X)
    Leakages in the
    security control of
    illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    Report of court-martial and
    dismissal of security agents for
    aiding and abetting illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta;
    • Reports of corruption and
    collusion between state
    security agencies and group
    involved in illegal oil
    bunkering and theft
    • Report of disappearance of
    ships in Navy custody that
    were arrested for illegal oil
    bunkering
    • Report of arrest and
    prosecution of foreigners for
    carrying illegal oil;
    • Inadequate Installation of
    meters
    • Report of collection of
    ‘passage fees’ from illegal oil
    bunkering cartels by security
    agents
    • Poor communication and
    coordination among
    (maritime) security agencies
    • Inadequate platforms for
    surveillance and control
    Interview with
    Senior Navy
    Officers
    Interview with
    former JTF
    Commanders
    Interview with
    Officers of the
    EFCC
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (Y)
    Sustenance of an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters
    Report of arrest and/or
    prosecution of Nigerians and
    foreigners involved in illegally
    procuring and transporting of
    crude oil to high seas from
    Nigeria’s coastal territory;
    • Seizure or detention of oilladen
    vessels by the Nigerian
    Navy found to be illegally
    operating in Nigeria’s waters
    without valid documents or
    with forged receipts;
    • Seizure of large wooden
    boats, called ‘Cotonou Boats’
    in local parlance and barges
    List of vessels
    arrested by the
    Nigerian Navy
    (2011)
    Transnational
    Trafficking and the
    Rule of Law in
    West Africa: A
    Threat Assessment
    (2009).
    Nigerian Navy
    Handover Note of
    arrested vessels to
    EFCC
    Compilation of
    104
    used in transporting stolen oil
    • Unauthorised ship-to-ship
    transfer of crude oil and
    petroleum products in
    Nigerian territorial waters
    • Reports of seizure of drums
    and containers used in
    evacuating locally refined
    petroleum products
    • Reports of existence of “spot
    market” at high seas where
    stolen oil is exchanged
    media report on
    vessels arrested for
    illegal bunkering
    (Researcher, 2012)
    EFCC Ongoing
    High-Profile
    Cases, 2007-2010
    (EFCC 2011)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta (2009)
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Internet sources
  1. Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in
    the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011?
  2. Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011?
  3. Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011?
    1.3 Objectives of the Study
    The broad objective of this study is to examine the relationship between oil resources
    management and illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region between 1999 and 2011.
    However, the specific objectives of the study are to:
  4. Ascertain if allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host
    communities in the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011.
    24
  5. Examine if protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to
    the proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta
    between 1999 and 2011.
  6. Find out if security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta
    sustained an international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters
    between 1999 and 2011.
    1.4 Significance of the Study
    The significance of this study is two-fold: theoretical and practical. At the theoretical
    level, it offers a new insight into the dynamics of oil resources management and illegal oil
    bunkering in Nigeria. The extant literature on oil resources management has largely focused on
    how enormous endowment of oil resources has occasioned environmental degradation,
    exploitation, financial loss and armed conflicts in the Niger Delta, without adequate systematic
    treatment of the issue of illegal oil bunkering in the region. Few studies that have examined the
    theft of oil have only looked at it from the perspective of organised crime, without
    systematically exploring how the arbitrary management of oil resources indicated by patronage
    in the use of oil resources to satisfy private and prebendal interests in Nigeria, environmental
    degradation protest and security leakages in the control of illegal oil business underpinned the
    outbreak and persistence of illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The study revisits the
    perspective based on the dynamics of oil resources management in relation to the threat of
    illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria. Therefore, the ideas and insights generated in this study would
    add to the body of knowledge on the broad subject of oil resources management, and would
    spur further debate and research on the subject of illegal oil bunkering and its serious
    ramifications for Nigeria’s economy, security, democracy and environment.
    In policy terms, this study promises to provide valuable insights and strategy for policy
    makers, especially with the federal and state governments (particularly of the Niger Delta
    25
    region), in formulating and implementing practical measures that would address the problem of
    oil-based leakages, including oil theft in the Niger Delta region. Illegal oil bunkering represents
    significant criminal economic activity with serious ramifications for Nigeria’s economy,
    security, democracy and environment. In this connection, the study shall be contributing to a
    better understanding of how to safeguard as well as manage the country’s wealth to improve
    the welfare and security of the citizens. The study will also benefit the local people of the oilhost
    communities as it will highlight the immediate and long-term impacts of illegal bunkering
    activities, especially artisanal refining of stolen crude oil, on environmental sustainability of
    host communities where these activities are rife.
    1.5. Literature Review
    The aim of this study is to examine the contradictions arising from arbitrary
    management of oil resources to satisfy private and prebendal ethno-regional interests and the
    concomitant outbreak of illegal oil bunkering and security leakages in its control in Nigeria’s
    Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011. In this light, relevant and accessible literature were
    reviewed on the following research questions in order to locate the gaps in the literature:
  7. Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in
    the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry1999 and 2011?
  8. Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011?
  9. Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011?
    Did allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class lead oil host communities in the
    Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011?
    26
    The issue of the nature and impact of oil resources management on Nigerian economy,
    politics and society has been examined in varied ways. With particular reference to the Niger
    Delta, scholars have also demonstrated, among others, the role oil played in violence and
    conflicts. Ikelegbe (2005), for instance, examined the economy of conflict in the resource-rich
    the Niger Delta region. He interrogated the interfaces among the Nigerian state, multi-national
    oil companies, the international community and youth militias with the economy. He found that
    a conflict economy comprising an intensive and violent struggle for resource opportunities,
    inter and intra communal/ethnic conflicts over resources and the theft and trading in refined and
    crude oil has blossomed in the Niger Delta in recent times. Ikelegbe (2005:208) therefore
    posited that:
    Decades of oil exploitation, environmental degradation and state neglect has
    created an impoverished, marginalized and exploited citizenry which after
    more than two decades produced a resistance of which the youth has been a
    vanguard. A regime of state repression and corporate violence has further
    generated popular and criminal violence, lawlessness, illegal appropriations
    and insecurity.
    Watts and Ibaba (2011) also shared the view that the way oil resources from the Niger
    Delta region have been managed by successive government in Nigeria underpinned conflicts,
    violence and insecurity in the region. They noted that oil is the main object of intra-elite,
    factional, regional and identity struggles over who controls and benefits from it. The struggle
    engendered policies which were adverse to the citizens of the region and thus led to conflict.
    According to them;
    Mapping the conflict reveals multiple periods, such as a time when the central
    issue was community agitations for development attention and demands for the
    payment of compensation for damages caused by oil company activities.
    Succeeding events resulted in sabotage of oil installations, oil theft,
    militarization of the region by the Nigerian State and the militarization of the
    conflict by the raft of different groups which cross-cut villages, classes, social
    networks, ethnic groups, and oil companies (Watts and Ibaba, 2011:7).
    27
    Watts and Ibaba (2011) also noted that the protests were initially peaceful but later
    turned violent owing to several factors, among which include, the obnoxious policies of the
    multinational oil companies (MNOCs) that often neglected the local populace and their
    inability to engage in meaningful corporate social responsibility in communities where they
    operate. This was compounded by their use of security operatives to quell protests as well as
    the arrogance of the Nigerian government which did not feel that the agitation of the oilproducing
    areas could threaten the stability of the State nor significantly affects its economic
    development. Apart from corruption and availability of arms in the region which they also
    noted, the other very important reason was the militarization of the region as a direct
    consequence of the strong state security presence which the people did not take kindly to in the
    midst of the deprivation, despoliation, disaffection and debilitating disenchantment they were
    experiencing in the face of the direct connivance of government and the MNOCs.
    Obi (2010a) offered a fresh perspective to the pervasion of violence, conflicts and
    criminality in the oil-rich Niger Delta. He contended that the roots of violent conflict in the
    Niger Delta as in other oil-rich contexts in Africa do not lie in pools of oil; they lie in the
    inequitable (transnational: local, national and global) power relations embedded in the
    production of oil and the highly skewed distribution of its benefits and pernicious liabilities.
    This was manifests in the non-response to – and later repression of – peaceful protests against
    the exploitation and pollution of the oil-rich region by a state–transnational oil alliance whose
    activities alienated the ordinary people from the land and means of their livelihoods, poisoned
    the ecosystem, deepened pre-existing inequalities and grievances, and paved the way for the
    descent into violent conflict.
    He equally noted that the high-handed response of the state to initially peaceful protests,
    the militarisation of the region and the complicity of oil multinationals and transnational elites
    28
    benefiting from oil production (and pollution) in the region can also help to explain the crisis in
    the oil-rich region. In this regard, Obi (2010a:490) observed that:
    Some premium has been placed on the violent and criminal activities of
    ethnic militias and armed groups involved in oil theft, kidnapping of oil
    workers and extorting oil companies, thus posing threats to oil investments
    in the Niger Delta…Some analysts have even gone as far as to speculate on
    a ‘terrorist threat’ possibly to attract the attention of the Western security
    establishment.
    He noted that such analysis and projections only tell part of the story, often ignoring the fluid
    boundaries between resistance, militancy and criminality, and how the social conditions created
    both by the operations and policies of the state and MNOCs have directly contributed to, and in
    some cases nurtured, the emergence of opportunistic elements manipulating the groundswell of
    grievances.
    Similarly, Saliu and Luqman (2009) were of the view that oil and other issues
    associated with its exploration have engendered conflict between the state and its component
    unit in the past and at present among the state, MNOCs, local elite and local communities in the
    Niger Delta region. They argued that a combination of oil bunkering, hostage-taking for
    ransom, oil production disruption, blockade and extortion, and arms trafficking, among other
    illegal activities have emerged as important avenues for the personal enrichment of
    stakeholders in the region. In relation to illegal oil bunkering, they observed that:
    Crude oil is tapped from pipelines and terminals of oil producing companies
    with advanced technological equipment and pumped into barges, ships and
    tankers on the sea. In some instances rather than go through pipelines,
    bunkerers and militants go straight to oil wellheads abandoned by oil
    companies as a result of militant attacks to pump the crude oil into barges,
    ships and tankers for transportation from the swamps for sale to
    neighbouring states like Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic and Togo and to the
    international market (Saliu and Luqman, 2009:319).
    Aside from the oil theft, they also noted that violence in the oil region has aggravated as
    militants groups (notably MEND) are resorting to kidnapping for ransom as another source for
    personal enrichment and for fuelling their campaign of violence against the state.
    29
    Mahler (2010) examined the oil-violence link in the Niger Delta, taking into
    consideration domestic and international contextual factors. He focused on explaining the
    increase in violence since the second half of the 1990s. With regard to the key contextual
    conditions responsible for violence, the results underline the basic relevance of cultural
    cleavages and political-institutional and socioeconomic weakness that existed even before the
    beginning of the “oil era.”
    He argued that oil has indirectly boosted the risk of violent conflicts through a further
    distortion of the national economy, noting that the transition to democratic rule in 1999
    decisively increased the opportunities for violent struggle, in a twofold manner. First,
    through the easing of political repression and, secondly, through the spread of armed
    youth groups, which have been fostered by corrupt politicians. These incidents imply that
    violence in the Niger Delta is increasingly driven by autonomous dynamics of an economy of
    violence:
    [T]he actors involved in this oil theft (often called “oil bunkering’) include
    some of the militant groups, thus receiving rising financial resources or
    directly weapons. Other actors include the security forces, especially the
    Nigerian Navy; local and regional politicians; and other powerful actors
    such as godfathers and international business people (Mahler, 2010:21)
    Oviasuyi and Owadiae (2010) also x-rayed the dilemma of Niger-Delta region as oil
    producing states of Nigeria, focusing on the criminal neglect of the entire region and the
    various approaches to the de-development of the region. They contended that the way oil
    resources from the region has been managed has turned out to be a curse to the Niger-Delta
    region of Nigeria since 1956, when it was first discovered in the region.
    The Niger Delta Region today is a place of frustrated expectations and deeprooted
    mistrust. Unprecedented restiveness at times erupts in violence. Long
    years of neglect and conflict have fostered a siege mentality specifically
    among youths who feel they are condemned to a future without hope and see
    conflict as a strategy to escape deprivation. While turmoil in the delta has
    many sources and motivations, the preeminent underlying cause is the
    historical failure of governance at all levels (Oviasuyi and Owadiae,
    2010:120).
    30
    They concluded that poor oil resources management has engendered widespread
    poverty in the region. The level of poverty in the Niger-Delta Region has gone beyond the level
    of absolute poverty to the level of poverty qua poverty, a phrase coined by Ikejiaku (2009:19)
    to describe the “practical absolute poverty where the majority find life excruciating because it
    is difficult to meet or satisfy their basic needs, such as food, clothing, shelter and education
    beyond primary school level”.
    Inokoba and Imbua (2010) noted two incontrovertible facts about the Niger Delta. First,
    it is a region of strategic importance to both the domestic and international economies.
    Secondly, it is a region of great and troubling paradox-it is an environment of great wealth as
    well as inhuman poverty. Therefore the dilemma of the region is that its wealth and riches have
    become a source of poverty, squalor and curse to the people of the oil bearing communities.
    Despite its invaluable contribution to the sustenance of the Nigerian state, the Niger Delta is
    now home to some of Africa’s poorest people and some of its worst cases of environmental
    destruction. The argued that in return for their generosity and patriotism, the Nigerian state has
    unashamedly paid Niger Deltans back with severe neglect and abandonment, political and
    economic deprivation, mindless looting of revenue generated from the region, joblessness,
    biochemical poisoning through pollution, brutal military assaults (as well as occupation) and
    extreme poverty. In their view;
    [i]t is this grim reality of the Niger Delta region, coupled with the
    unreasonable refusal of the Nigerian state to respond to the peaceful and
    genuine agitations of the oil bearing communities that have created an
    environment of frustration, anger and desperation in the region. Today, this
    has snowballed into lingering and volatile restiveness and insurgency,
    resulting in the demand for local ownership and control of oil resources
    under a truly restructured federal system in Nigeria (Inokoba and Imbua,
    2010:102).
    The core of their argument therefore is that the ever-escalating restiveness of the Niger
    Delta is more or less the people’s expression of frustration and anger over decades of
    31
    exploitation, suppression, marginalization and environmental degradation. To address the
    problem of militancy in the region, they suggested the adoption of pragmatic and holistic
    solution that is based on a sincere, visible and sustained multi-actor, multi-sectoral and
    integrative interventionist mechanism in the region.
    The above explanation of the root causes of the conflict in the Niger Delta is also shared
    by Omofonmwan and Odia (2009). They contended that since the discovery of crude oil in
    commercial quantity in the area in 1956, oil exploration and exploitation have resulted in
    environmental degradation, soil impoverishment, pollution, loss of aquatic life and biodiversity.
    Thus, the causes of the crises in the Niger-Delta region is sequel to the inability of the MNOCs
    involved in the explorations and exploitation of crude oil, and the federal government to
    adequately mitigate the consequences of their activities in the region. In their very words:
    The level of aggression and inter-ethnic rivalry observe today in the region
    is a fallout of the innate desire to have access to basic essential needs.
    Experience has shown that exploitation of crude oil from a particular
    location or well is not permanent. Thus, the persistent demand for attention
    and amenities such as Primary Health Centre (PHC), educational facilities
    etc, by the representative of host communities is to ensure relevance in terms
    of socio-economic wellbeing after the oil wells becomes empty. It is the
    inability of multinational corporations to meet their basic need that is the
    major cause of conflicts in the region (Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009:28).
    They were of the view that adequate mitigation measures such as construction of access
    roads, health facilities, educational facilities, electricity, income yielding ventures, piped water
    supply scheme, provision of micro credit facilities, capacity building, and agricultural
    development will greatly reduce the crises in the region to the barest minimum.
    Focusing on green crimes and petro-violence in the Niger Delta, Evoh (2009) contended
    that the operation of the oil industry in Nigeria is characterised by a vicious cycle of violence
    involving the state, multinational oil companies, and lately a group of indigenous armed youth
    in the Niger Delta region. He explores the increasing vulnerability of the region to violence and
    disaster caused by oil pipeline explosions and other oil exploration activities. He located oil32
    related violence and disasters and their impacts on the environment within the contexts of
    unsustainable resource exploitation by oil companies, political corruption, and rent distribution
    politics in Nigeria.
    Rather than bringing social and economic growth and development in
    Nigeria, the oil industry together with the institutions of the state have
    eroded ‘community spirit’ and social capital; brought untold hardship to the
    people, and ruin to the natural environment of the country. Besides,
    unsustainable approaches to resource exploitation and community relations
    have destroyed the foundations of traditional economy in the Niger-Delta
    (Evoh, 2009:48).
    Consequently, the level of waste, mismanagement and misappropriation that have
    characterised oil wealth at all levels of government in Nigeria has transform Nigeria from a
    resource-rich into a resource-cursed country. These cumulative economic distortions create
    enormous social tension, violence and conflicts in the region. Evoh (2009) presented four
    interrelated sets of solution to the increasing wave of petro-violence in the country, namely: the
    adoption of sustainable practices for oil resource exploitation by oil companies in Nigeria;
    transparent governance and institutions; the diversification and development of agricultural and
    manufacturing sectors with oil wealth; and the involvement of oil-producing communities in
    Nigeria in the management of oil resources through collaborative partnership initiatives.
    Though the link between oil, deprivation and conflict in the Niger Delta has been
    extensively discussed in the literature, the above review of extant literature on the issue of oil
    and insecurity has shown that scholars have not examined how the patronage allocation of oil
    blocks to the ruling class contributes to the dispossession of oil-host communities of befitting
    access and control of the resources of their environment, thereby underpinning their
    involvement in oil banditry.
    Did protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation give rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between 1999
    and 2011?
    33
    The degradation of the environment of the Niger Delta due to oil production activities
    has remained a subject of growing public concern. In this regard, oil spill due to equipment
    failure, natural rupture or deliberate sabotage remains a major source of environmental
    degradation in the region. Statistics show that “a total of 6,817 oil spills occurred between 1976
    and 2001, with a loss of approximately three million barrels of oil. More than 70 per cent was
    not recovered. Approximately six per cent spilled on land, 25 per cent in swamps and 69 per
    cent in offshore environments” (UNDP, 2006:76). In a report published in August 2011, the
    United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) accused Shell and other oil firms of
    systematically contaminating 1,000 sq km (386 sq mile) area of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta,
    with disastrous consequences for human health and wildlife. The report estimated that the
    devastating oil spills in the oil-rich region over the past five decades would cost $1 billion to
    rectify and will take about 25-30 years to clean up (UNEP, 2011). The report covers
    contaminated land, groundwater, surface water, sediment, vegetation, air pollution, public
    health, industry practices and institutional issues.
    Ighodalo (2006) has argued that oil pollution is one of the negative outcomes of oil
    production activities, which contributed to the upsurge in violent agitations by oil bearing
    communities and armed youth groups in the Niger Delta fighting for the protection of their
    environment and a more equitable distribution of the nation’s oil wealth. Ghazvinian (2007)
    corroborated this assertion, noting that the various stages of oil exploration and extraction cause
    tremendous environmental and social damage in the Niger Delta. These include seismic
    surveys, drilling, road and pipeline construction, river dredging and gas-flaring. Long-standing
    pollution also resulted from pipeline leaks and oil spills, waste dumping and blowouts, all
    exacerbated by the neglect of proper maintenance and management. In his view:
    The problem, in a nutshell, is that for fifty years, foreign oil companies have
    conducted some of the world’s most sophisticated exploration and production
    operations, using millions of dollars’ worth of imported ultramodern equipment,
    against a backdrop of Stone Age squalor. They have extracted hundreds of
    34
    millions of barrels of oil, which have sold on the international market for
    hundreds of billions of dollars, but the people of the Niger Delta have seen
    virtually none of the benefits (Ghazvinian 2007:18).
    Thus, local communities eking out subsistence through fishing, cassava processing,
    palm oil processing, orchard tending and non-timber forest product gathering experienced
    devastating changes in their lives. Deforestation, air and water pollution, desertification and
    loss of arable land contributed to high rates of disease and physical, mental and social illhealth.
    Eregha and Irughe (2009) posited that the issue of environmental sustainability cannot
    be overemphasized in the Niger-Delta as this is fundamental to the overall wellbeing of the
    present and future generations of the people of the oil producing state. This is because the
    Niger-Delta region is dominated by rural communities that depend solely on the natural
    environment for subsistence living. According to them:
    Environmental degradation with respect to oil production is elastic in the
    region every day and this is well known. These include among others
    degradation of the forests and depletion of aquatic fauna. The long-term
    impacts are also possible, as in cases where mangrove swamps and
    groundwater are harmed. The issue of oil induced environmental disaster
    and its numerous effects are devastating in the region (Eregha and Irughe,
    2009:161).
    They observed that studies regarding oil related environmental problems and their
    impact on the region have not really done extensive work on the link between the economic
    effects and the resulting social effects. Hence, their study examined the various economic
    effects and its concomitant social effects in the region. The oil related environmental problems
    identified included water pollution, deforestation, land degradation, and air pollution. These
    problems have generated multiplier economic effects – alarming unemployment rate, high level
    of poverty – and social effects: conflicts, youth restiveness, and hostage-taking, among others.
    The desire to ensure the preservation and protection of the fragile ecosystem of the
    Nigeria Delta has been a long-standing issue in the protests waged by oil host communities. For
    35
    instance, in October 1990, the Ogoni Bill of Rights was presented to the Nigerian government
    and people. The Ogoni Bill of Rights among other things demanded for the right to use a fair
    proportion of the economic resources in Ogoni land for its development and the right to protect
    their environment. In October 1999, the Movement of the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic
    Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) also presented the lzon people charter which
    among other things demanded for the right of the ljaw to control their natural resources. On
    December 1998, a meeting held by Ijaw youths in Kaiama, Bayelsa state, established the ljaw
    Youth Council (IYC) and made the famous Kaiama Declaration. The ten-point resolution in the
    Declaration among other things asserted the right of the ljaw people to ownership and control
    of their lives and resources, affirming that:
    All land and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the ijaw
    territory belong to ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival. We
    cease to recognize all undemocratic decrees that rob our people/ communities
    of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were
    enacted without our participation and consent. These include the Land Use
    Decree and the Petroleum Decree, among others (Kaiama Declaration, 1998).
    The Kaiama Declaration by the IYC marked a curtain raiser in organised agitation for
    the control of, and access to, oil resource of the Niger Delta. It heralded threats by youths to
    shut down all oil wells in Ijaw land and called on companies to suspend further business
    relations with the State and Federal Governments over the issue of oil exploitation and its
    related consequences for the environment. The main aim of the agitators was to own, control
    and manage the mineral resources, especially oil, found in the Niger Delta in a manner that
    preserves their environment. However, “a careful reading of the provision of paragraph 3 of
    Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution vests exclusive ownership, management and control of
    these mineral resources on the government of the federation” (Ibrahim, 2008:247). The
    contradiction arising from the pursuit of these resolutions by the oil-rich minorities groups and
    the quest by the Nigerian state to maintain unfettered control of oil resources underpinned the
    militant dimension of the protests in the region.
    36
    Ibaba (2011) corroborated this point when he argued that the youths from the region
    resolved to implement Kaiama Declaration from 30 December 1998, but their attempts met
    state repressions that lead to violent confrontation between the youths and security forces, and
    consequently providing the setting for the transformation of youth groups into militia
    organizations. This is in tandem with Ibeanu’s (2000) analysis of the management of conflicts
    surrounding petroleum production in the Niger Delta. Ibeanu (2000) highlighted the dynamics
    of environmental conflict in the region as well as explored how two different political regimes,
    one authoritarian and the other democratic, have approached conflict management in the area.
    He is of the view that the Niger Delta has witnessed considerable violence as a result of the
    tense relationship among oil companies, the Nigerian state, and oil-bearing communities. He
    noted that environmental damage from the extraction and movement of fossil fuels is a central
    point of dispute among the parties. He puts it thus:
    The violence of the last ten years in the Niger Delta has brought relations
    among oil companies, the Nigerian state, and oil-bearing communities fullcircle.
    For four decades, ecological devastation on the one hand, and neglect
    arising from crude oil production, on the other hand, have left much of the
    Niger Delta desolate, uninhabitable, and poor. The shady modus operandi of
    oil companies and the incompetence and corruption of state officials,
    ensured that neither took responsibility for the enormous environmental and
    social damages caused by crude oil production. Frustrated, the people of the
    Niger Delta took up arms against petrobusiness and its political allies
    (Ibeanu, 2000:19).
    His central thesis is that conflicts arise out of a contradiction of securities, which the
    Nigerian state because of its character is unable to manage and reconcile. This contradiction of
    securities hinges on the opposition between perceptions and conditions of security advanced by
    local communities and those advanced by state officials and petrobusiness. Put simply, security
    for local communities means recognition that mindless exploitation of crude oil and the
    resultant ecological damage threaten resource flows and livelihoods. For state officials and
    petrobusiness, security consists of an unencumbered production of crude oil at competitive
    (read cheap) costs.
    37
    Furthermore, Owugah (2008) examined the dynamics of the Niger Delta conflict with
    the aim of explaining the changes in conflict base and response strategies. According to him,
    the initial conflict base in the region was inadequate compensation for environmental
    degradation as well as developmental and employment neglect. This base later shifted to
    resource control with the advent of democratic rule. While the initial response strategy was
    litigation and later peaceful protest, the latest response strategy was revolutionary violence. He
    attributed the current conflict in the Niger Delta to the failure of the Nigerian state to
    effectively use the enormous oil resources generated from the oil producing states to ensure
    their socio-economic wellbeing.
    Hence, the demand to reclaim the two principal rights they lost or
    surrendered to the state on becoming part of the Nigerian state. Since the
    state is unable to fulfil its obligation to them, they are reclaiming their rights
    to exploit their resources for their socio-economic well-being and to also
    possess and use arms for their personal and property security. This is the
    genesis of the demand for resource control and the emergence of
    revolutionary groups in the Niger Delta (Owugah, 2008:716)
    Consequently, while the people are demanding for resource control, the state is offering
    a Niger Delta development master plan. The contradiction is such that the communities have no
    confidence in the state while the state has no respect for the revolutionaries who it dismisses as
    ‘criminals’ and ‘terrorists’. Owugah therefore posited that any serious efforts at resolving the
    Niger Delta crisis must relate both the discussion and the recommendations to the resource
    control and environmental degradation protests.
    Osaghae et al (2008) contended that the Niger Delta region has been the site of a
    generalized ethnic and regional struggle for self-determination since 1998, the location of
    often-violent confrontations between local ethnic communities and agents of the Nigerian state
    and oil companies involved in the extraction and exploitation of oil in the area. This struggle
    has undergone several transformations. The first profound transformation was the flowering of
    civil society, which mobilized a popular civil struggle. In the second, the agitation was
    38
    extended from that against MNOCs to include the Nigerian state. The third transformation
    involved the elevation of the agitation from purely developmental issues to include the political
    demands such as federal restructuring, resource control and the resolution of the national
    question through a conference of ethnic nationalities. The current and fourth stage of the
    transformation has seen the entrance of youths, youth militancy and youth militias with volatile
    demands and ultimatums that has elevated the scale of confrontations and violence with the
    multinationals and the state.
    Osaghae et al (2008) are of the view that the Niger Delta struggle is an exercise in
    contentious collective action aimed at ending discrimination, environmental degradation,
    oppression, domination and exploitation which Niger-Deltans claim arise from denials and
    violations of their human rights by the Nigerian state. In this wise, they argue that resource
    control protests in the region is characterized by violence due to the widely varying conception
    of resource control held by the various actors in Niger Delta and the difficulty in reconciling
    such conceptions.
    Resources” to the communities and peoples of the Niger Delta is not just
    “oil and gas” but include land, forests and water… Two other principal
    actors in the politics of Niger Delta, the MNCs and the Nigerian state do not
    share Niger-delta conception of resource control. MNCs believe that
    resource control agitation by the people of the Niger Delta is merely a
    clamor for a return of parts of oil and logging revenue into the region. They
    see it as an exercise in fiscal federalism and not necessarily a change in
    status quo as they believe that once the states have been settled, there will
    be peace. To the federal government resource control advocacy and its
    meaning is a call for war or a break up of Nigeria. Government leaders
    believe that an agitation for control of resources is nothing but “separatist
    tendencies” that must not be tolerated, but crushed (Osaghae et al, 2008:20).
    Hence, the contentious collective action or protests by the ethnic minorities has been
    violently pursued by armed youth militia groups and resistance movements with an ideology
    based on the principle of self-determination as a driving force for ethnic autonomy. In this
    violent context, armed militia groups in the Niger Delta get funds for their purchase of arms
    through illegal oil bunkering.
    39
    Indeed, media reports have indicated that problems of illegal oil bunkering and
    vandalisation of petroleum product pipelines have constituted major threats to optimal
    operations by the oil majors and the NNPC in the Niger Delta. In this wise, Phil-Eze (2004)
    attributed the act of taping into oil pipeline to long years of neglect, marginalisation and
    repression of the people of the Niger Delta region. He placed the analysis within the context of
    the socio-economic theory of ethnicity. This theory largely identifies imbalance in socioeconomic
    wellbeing as the basis for the emergence of ethnic consciousness. He contended that
    the immediate cause of growing vandalisation is a general discontent and resentment by the
    indigenous ethnic nationalities in the Niger Delta especially the Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo.
    These ethnic groups vent their anger over the devastation of their environment through this
    unlawful method of recovering or “scooping” what they perceive as their oil wealth being
    unfairly carted away to Abuja and other places. In this wise, the central argument of the scholar
    is that:
    Pipeline vandalisation is today an ethnic dimension to the unreserved
    expression of discontent and disaffection emanating from long years of
    deprivation by successive governments in Nigeria. The people want their
    misfortunes to be transformed to fortune in this present democratic
    dispensation (Phil-Eze, 2004:279).
    His view also corroborated one of the explanations of Ikporukpo (1988) on the
    occurrence of pipeline vandalisation. The first explanation is that pipeline vandalisation is a
    reflection of the general dissatisfaction of ethnic nationalities in the oil producing areas with the
    oil companies. In other words, ethnic groups regard oil spillage through pipeline vandalisation
    as a way of venting this grudge. The second explanation holds that pipeline vandalisation is
    effected for the purpose of making “quick money”. This proposition is that since some form of
    compensation may accrue to the people of the area affected by oil spillage resulting from the
    vandalised pipeline, the more the incidences, the more money people are likely to make.
    40
    The official explanation is that petroleum pipeline vandalisation is the handiwork of
    criminals, usually indigenous contractors and local chiefs who expect to be awarded clean-up
    contracts, or the evil machinations of detractors determined to derail the democratic projects in
    Nigeria. Although local communities dispute such claims, Aaron (2006:208-209) has argued
    that:
    Petroleum pipeline vandalisation should be contextualized as an aspect of the
    struggle to reacquire a lost human right: ‘the right to indigenous people to
    control their land and natural resources’ – a right the Niger Delta people have
    been brutally deprived of by the Nigerian State and oil transnationals.
    He premised his argument on the assumption that the sabotaging of oil installations is a
    community project, which it is not. It is pertinent to note that although sabotage-induced oil
    spillage is a way of protest against deprivation, as well as an economic venture, it is an activity
    of groups, and not communities. Indeed, the economic motive is central. The official position
    which attributes such incidents to the activities of people who expect economic gains from the
    oil spills sounds plausible. Okoko (1998:20) supported this viewpoint when he declared that:
    The entire issue of sabotage appears perplexing, since the communities protests
    the destruction of farmlands and fishing grounds by oil spillages. The question
    therefore arises, why do we still have these acts of sabotage? …this seeming
    paradox lies in the types of persons engaged in these acts of sabotage… these
    individuals have no stake in the consequences of spillages. They are neither
    farmers nor fishermen. They are landless and have no claim to fishing ponds…
    sabotage to these groups is simply a form of ‘business’, the credibility of which
    is not of concern to them. Those who support such acts feel justified in line with
    the national syndrome of national cake-sharing, besides the prevailing feeling of
    discontent occasioned by neglect and deprivation.
    The payment of compensatoin to oil-producing communities for oil industry related
    environmental damages in the Niger Delta is an issue of concern to the Niger Delta. Ikporukpo
    (2004) captured these concerns thus:
    Whereas there are no direct compensatory payments for pollution and associated
    problems, there is payment for loss of use of land and water resources. In other
    words, individuals and communities are compensated for destroyed crops,
    productive trees and fish. There is no compensation for loss of land and water
    bodies… no compensation are paid if damage is caused through the action of a
    claimant, or third party… The rates paid are usually low because of frequent
    41
    under valuation… The issue of self-inflicted and third party damage is one of
    the most contentious aspects of compensation (Ikporukpo, 2004:337).
    The theory of greed-propelled sabotage through vandalisation fits the orientation of the
    oil companies as they are wont to give this as an excuse in order to escape payment of
    compensation to the affected communities. It is therefore argued that a more disturbing factor
    that encouraged ethnic groups to vandalise pipelines is that compensatory rent, where it is paid
    at all, by oil companies is quite minimal, outdated and neither commensurate with the impact of
    exploitation on the environment, occupational and socio-economic life of the people, nor the
    level of profit made by the companies and government.
    It is worthy to note however that not all members of the oil host communities take part
    in acts of sabotage. Indeed, even those who do not take part are victims of the devastating
    impact of the resulting oil spills. Against this backdrop, Ibaba and John (2009) examined the
    relationship between sabotage-induced oil spillages and human rights violations in the Niger
    Delta. They argued that the policy which abhors compensation for sabotage-induced spills
    violates economic rights. In their view, it is wrong to deny claimants or victims compensation,
    when their complicity is not established.
    Despite claims of sabotage, the oil companies hardly provide evidence to
    substantiate their claims. Worse, the actual culprits are never identified. Our
    contention is that in the absence of the establishment of complicity, it is
    wrong not to pay claimants compensation for their damaged resources. In
    our opinion, this refusal to pay compensation without the establishment of
    complicity is a violation of human rights (Ibaba and John, 2009:61).
    Perhaps of more significance is the fact that the oil spills and the resultant
    environmental degradation and destruction violate the people’s right to a healthy environment.
    The refusal to pay them compensation, therefore, amounts to double tragedy or loss. Ibaba and
    John (2009 were of the view that the most likely option to end the menace of oil pipeline
    sabotage that leads to pollution is to integrate the communities into the oil economy. This will
    42
    make them have proprietary interest, and for this reason, take interests in protecting oil
    pipelines and installations.
    In this connection, Alawode and Ogunleye (2011) contended that pipeline breakage and
    oil spills are caused by two major phenomena: damages and ruptures. Ruptures occur due to
    diminished pipeline integrity and the aging process of the pipes. However, pipeline damages
    are caused mainly by sabotage. Oil spill was identified as the major effect of oil pipeline
    breakage. Pipeline vandalisation compounds oil spillages from other sources and exacerbates
    the problems of environmental degradation and pollution of waterways.
    Degradation of the environment is one of the worst disasters that have
    befallen the areas where pipelines have been vandalised. Raging fires have
    destroyed farmlands and forests thereby reducing arable land for farming.
    Spills into waterways destroy marine and aquatic life, flora, fauna, resort
    centers, and result in the pollution of potable water (Alawode and Ogunleye,
    2011:569).
    To sustain and improve the integrity and safety of the pipelines, they suggested the need
    for a complete overhaul of aging pipelines, frequent checks for pipeline integrity, improved
    surveillance and introduction of aerial/satellite monitoring of pipeline installations, effective
    tracking by the Naval force of the inflow of arms, and increased enlightenment on the adverse
    consequences of pipeline vandalisation.
    Aroh et. al. (2010) examined the incidents of oil spills and pipeline vandalisation in
    Nigeria in relation to the potential danger posed by such activities to public health. They noted
    that out of the 1,000 reported oil spill incidents analyzed, some hundreds of thousands of
    barrels of oil were lost to the environment. Using graphic pictures of typical oil spill through
    acts of vandalisation in Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, they analyzed its impact on public health. They
    observed that:
    The run-off and sedimentation of this pollutant in fresh water systems
    severely degrade water quality, affect fish spawning and aquatic
    invertebrates’ habitats, thus lowering food web productivity. Incidentally the
    spill-over effect on humans who directly depend on fish and other aquatic
    food as an alternative protein supplement is quite inundating. The effects on
    43
    humans include irritation, dermatitis, cancer, occurrence of abortion, organ
    failure and genetic disorder (Aroh et al, 2010).
    They called for early report of oil spill incidents so that the regulatory agencies would
    take prompt actions to protect and enhance the quality of the environment. They concluded that
    oil spill and pipeline vandalisation devastate the environment, pollute dependable potable water
    sources such as streams and rivers and should be seen as a serious threat and negation to the
    attainment of the United Nations Millennium development goals. Indeed, cases of sabotage of
    oil pipeline have not only resulted in oil pollution but in the destruction of properties and loss
    of several lives.
    The above review of extant literature has shown that oil host communities have staged
    different forms of organised protests as means of expressing dissatisfaction over the
    marginalisation, deprivation and repression of oil bearing communities by both the Nigerian
    State and MNOCs. Without doubt, deprivation grievances related to the locally produced oil
    wealth have motivated conflicts and protests in oil-host communities, but the proliferation of
    armed groups resulting in the exploitation of the conflict environment to engage in
    environmentally hazardous oil transactions such as illegal tapping and artisanal refining of
    crude oil in the Niger Delta has not been subjected to thorough scrutiny between 1999 and
    2011.
    Did security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustain an
    international market for illegal oil trade in the Nigerian coastal waters?
    For a nation that has oil as its mainstay, it is to be expected that no effort would be
    spared in protecting oil facilities from vandals, insurgents, terrorists and economic saboteurs.
    This is essentially because crude oil or refined petroleum products lost as a result of theft has
    economic consequences, particularly in the form of loss of revenue to the government.
    Van Duyne and Blockk (1995) examined the interaction between crime-enterprises in
    the oil market in the United States and North-western Europe. They uncovered the landscape of
    44
    moral decay, lack of supervision by law enforcement and the spread of systematic fraud in a
    branch of industry which has become ripe for infiltration by organised crime. They contended
    that if the entrepreneurial landscape has similar features and there are possibilities of personal
    bridgeheads organised business crime obtains cross-border, transatlantic dimensions. In relation
    to the flourishing of organised crime in oil industry, Van Duyne and Blockk (1995:137) argued
    that:
    The criminal networks in their composition are not restricted to a particular
    nationality: oil trade is by its very nature international and so are the
    networks of organised fraudsters. However, every market has its commercial
    and social boundaries. Large-scale organised fraudsters are likely to learn
    about each other’s exploits; sooner or later they share mutual technical
    interests which may lead to a stronger mutual cohesion. The outcome may
    be a “criminal trading community”.
    They further contended that a weak and permeable market and deficient law enforcement
    which contribute to the gradual penetration of organised crime cannot be considered isolated
    from a surrounding decay in public morality. They noted the excessive attention devoted to the
    recognizable symptoms of traditional organised crime with only marginal attention paid to the
    landscape in which organised business crime is allowed to flourish. Interestingly, Van Duyne
    and Blockk’s work identified the existence of organised criminal network in the oil market in
    the United States and North-western Europe and the conditions that permits such acts to
    flourish. However, there focus is neither on the operation of such illicit activities in Nigeria, nor
    on its implications for loss of revenue.
    The UNODC (2005) treated illegal oil bunkering or theft in Nigeria as a form of
    transnational organised crime. It noted that illegal oil bunkering is a speciality of Nigeria,
    noting that “relatively little is known as to the overall nature and extent of the problem”
    (UNODC, 2005:31). It went further to state that the oil bunkering syndicates operating in the
    Niger Delta are highly international, including not only other West Africans, but also
    Moroccans, Venezuelans, Lebanese, French and Russians. It concluded that the impact of
    45
    organised crime on the region’s citizens is profound — not only does it undercut state
    institutions but greatly increases the challenges for honest travellers and business operators who
    often feel targeted by Western customs and law enforcement agencies. Police reform, more
    effective forms of regional and international cooperation, greater political will and attempts to
    curb corrupt practices were adduced as critical measures to effectively combating the problem.
    UNODC’s observations that ‘oil bunkering is a speciality of Nigeria and that relatively
    little is known as to the overall nature and extent of the problem’ are quite informative. It goes
    further to underscore the need for more scholarly attention to be paid to this illicit activity that
    seems limited to only Nigeria.
    Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan (2006) provided an overview of the three aspects of
    illegal oil bunkering – local small scale oil theft, larger scale oil theft and excess lifting of crude
    oil beyond the licensed amount – and the ways in which it affects the prospects for peace and
    security in the region. They argue that the advent of civil rule in 1999 witnessed an escalation
    in illegal oil bunkering, which coincided with the general state relaxation of military control in
    the Niger Delta. In their view:
    Illegal oil bunkering is a multifaceted issue that can only be curbed if it is
    dealt with in concert with corruption, illegal small arms and money
    laundering. The context of poverty and inequality, perceived and actual
    discrimination, lacking capacity to legitimately benefit from the oil industry,
    and crime and criminal cartels makes illegal oil bunkering both appealing
    and relatively easy through the criminal infrastructure that exists (Davis,
    Von Kemedi and Drennan 2006:22-23).
    They contended that shutting down illegal bunkering operations has been a very
    difficult challenge for successive administration because of the participation of highly placed
    persons in this illegal activity, and their ability to threaten government stability if pushed too
    far. They identified five ‘flow-on effects’ of illegal oil bunkering, namely; sea piracy, weapons
    proliferation, ethnic violence and social disintegration. The observation that highly placed
    46
    persons are involved in this illegal activity suggests the existence of more permanent and
    entrenched groups.
    Jonah (2010) identified illegal oil bunkering or oil theft as a maritime threat to Nigeria’s
    national security. He argued that Nigeria as a littoral state with abundant maritime resources
    and a major oil producing nation is faced with attendant national security challenges. These
    challenges include, among others, poaching, piracy and sea robbery, smuggling, illegal oil
    bunkering and theft, drug trafficking, international terrorism, maritime border disputes, marine
    pollution, and proliferation of small arms and light weapons. He noted that Nigeria as a
    monocultural economy, with oil production as the main foreign exchange earner, would have to
    ensure the continuous safe exploration and exploitation of the commodity to guarantee her
    development and security. Jonah (2010:84) clarified that:
    Illegal bunkering is the illegal transfer of fuels and other petroleum products
    between vessels, from storage facilities to vessels and vice versa while crude
    oil theft involves the vandalisation of crude oil product pipes and the
    subsequent theft of the products from the pipes. Illegal bunkering and crude
    oil theft amount to staggering losses. Nigeria losses alone are estimated
    anywhere from 70,000 to 300,000.
    Jonah blamed poor maritime governance as significantly facilitating oil theft. A credible
    maritime security arrangement is, therefore, required to combat this security challenge.
    In her analysis of the problem of illegal oil bunkering, Asuni (2009) contended that the
    trade in stolen oil or “blood oil” poses an immense challenge to the Nigerian state. The term
    “blood oil”, according to her, owes its origins to the “blood diamond” campaign, which raised
    awareness of the problem of diamond smuggling from African war zones and its role in
    funding conflict.
    The sale of stolen oil from the Niger Delta has had the same pernicious
    influence on that region’s conflict as diamonds did in the wars in Angola and
    Sierra Leone. The proceeds from oil theft are used to buy weapons and
    ammunition, helping to sustain the armed groups that are fighting the federal
    government. The armed groups are also investing in criminal enterprises
    such as drug trafficking (Asuni, 2009:2).
    47
    She further noted that the business of illegal oil bunkering involves players far beyond
    the shores of Nigeria and will require an international effort to control it. She equally
    highlighted some of the efforts at curbing the trade in stolen oil. Asuni’s work focused
    essentially on the oil-conflict dynamics of illegal oil bunkering. Yet the implications of illegal
    oil bunkering go beyond the instigation of violence.
    Garuba (2010) examined illegal oil bunkering within the context of Nigeria’s economic
    reform agenda. He addressed the underlying linkage between transborder economic crime and
    the phenomenon of globalization, while noting the essential character of illegal oil bunkering
    that qualifies it as a form of transnational economic crime. He contended that oil being the
    biggest single business in Nigeria, the trans-border character of illegal bunkering is not only
    accentuated by the logic of globalization, but it is also portending serious implications and
    genuine concerns for the economic reform process in the country.
    He noted that the upsurge noticed in contemporary illegal oil bunkering started
    attracting public knowledge during the Babangida regime (1986–1993) when crude oil and its
    refined products (specifically petrol) became the domain of senior military officers and their
    civilian cronies. From the initial opportunity provided by domestic subsidy and devaluation of
    the Nigeria Naira during which legally lifted products were diverted to more profitable markets
    of Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA) Franc States under arrangement and cover of
    government officials, illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria took firm roots with the discrete
    cooperation of oil companies workers who operated at oil wellheads or allowed access to them.
    The bunkerers tap directly into pipelines away from oil company facilities, and connect from
    the pipelines to barges that are hidden in small creeks with mangrove forest cover. The work
    highlighted a close relationship between the dynamics of conflict and illegal oil bunkering in
    the Niger Delta. According to Garuba (2010:13)
    When sustained at a measured level such that will not close down oil
    production completely, conflicts in the Niger Delta clear the creeks of other
    48
    traffic to lubricate the engine of illegal oil bunkering. What it takes the wellorganised
    syndicated crime gangs involved in the business to sustain the
    flow of the commodity is to plug back a part of the proceeds from the stolen
    crude oil into weapon acquisition to fan the conflicts.
    He concluded that the reckless politics around oil is not only reflected in the squabbles
    for control of its business, but it is also responsible for trans-border oil smuggling by everincreasing
    and ever-expanding criminal networks that are aided by contemporary logic of
    globalization as dictated in new communication and transportation technologies, as well as
    informal cross-border linkages. The leakage trans-border oil smuggling portends, highlights the
    basis upon which some combative measures form an integral part of government’s economic
    reform process.
    Rim-Rukeh et al (2008) focused on community based intervention as a strategy to
    combat pipeline vandalisation, with specific objective of proposing participatory rural appraisal
    (PRA) technique. They shared the view that “the cause of pipeline vandalisation in the Niger
    Delta can be traced to the long history of neglect, marginalisation and repression of the people
    of the area by successive government” (Rim-Rukeh et. al., 2008:24). The cumulative effects of
    all these have been lack of development and widespread and palpable poverty and discontent
    among the people of the region. Therefore, unlawful act of pipeline vandalisation became the
    only medium of expressing dissatisfaction, marginalisation and repression.
    In order to effectively combat pipeline vandalisation, Rim-Rukeh et. al. (2008)
    recommended the application of the PRA strategy, which will involve local people in the
    management and maintenance of pipeline and pipeline right of way. The idea is that local
    people would be part of the project, their rights respected and they will be economically
    empowered by the process.
    These studies reviewed indeed highlighted that the theft of oil through illegal oil
    bunkering and petroleum products pipeline vandalisation leads to loss of revenue. However, the
    critical question that arises is: did leakages in the security control of illegal oil business in the
    49
    Niger Delta sustain an international market for illegal oil trade in the Nigerian coastal waters?
    As a matter of necessity, there is the need to explore how some leakages or deficit in the
    security and surveillance operations in the region contributed to the existence of an
    international market for stolen oil. The bunkering of oil and its transportation to the high seas
    is facilitated with large ocean going vessels or badges which could be easily detected by
    constant patrol of the waterways by maritime law enforcement agencies such as the Nigerian
    Navy, Coastal Police and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. The extant
    literature reviewed have not satisfactorily addressed this issue. Therefore, there is the need to
    examine how leakages in the security control of illegal oil business in the Niger Delta are
    deeply implicated in the sustenance of an international market for illegal oil trade in the
    Nigerian waters.
    Gap in the Literature
    The literature review shows that writers on oil resource management in general and
    Nigeria in particular allude to oil abundance as underpinning the financial motives/
    opportunities for armed conflict, or as a causal factor in rentier state weakness either through
    the propensity for misrule, authoritarianism or instability (Basedau and Lay 2009; Ross 2008;
    Di John, 2007; Collier and Hoeffler 2005; Watts and Ibaba 2011; Obi 2010b; Ideh, Edegware
    and Ideh, 2007; Marquardt, 2006; Omeje 2006; Ikelegbe 2006; Joab-Peterside 2005; Ibeanu
    2002).
    Writers on oil politics and violence in the Niger Delta (Watts and Ibaba, 2011; Mahler,
    2010; Oviasuyi and Owadie, 2010; Inokoba and Imbua 2010; Obi, 2010a, 2010b;
    Omofonmwan and Odia, 2009; Evoh, 2009; Saliu and Luqman, 2009; Ikelegbe, 2005; Thurber
    et al., 2010; Ibeanu 2000) have harped on violence and conflicts in the region as people’s
    expression of frustration and anger over decades of exploitation, suppression, marginalization
    and environmental degradation. Writers on protests and vandalisation of oil infrastructure
    50
    (Aron, 2006; Davis, Von Kemedi and Drennan, 2006; Braide, 2005; UNODC, 2005; Luft,
    2005; Phile-Eze, 2004; Okoko, 1998; Ikporukpo, 2004, 1988) have focused on pipeline
    vandalisation as a medium of expressing dissatisfaction by oil bearing communities. Writers on
    illegal oil bunkering and the Nigerian economy (Garuba, 2010; Asuni, 2009; Jonah, 2010; Van
    Duyne and Blockk, 1995) have only alluded to the financial estimates of the worth of oil lost to
    theft.
    Most studies regarding the connection between oil and environmental degradation in the
    region (Alawode and Ogunleye, 2011; Omodanisi, Salami and Oke, 2011; Aroh et al. 2010;
    Ibaba and John 2009; Ereghe and Irughe, 2009; Rim-Rukeh et al. 2008; Yo-Essien, 2008;
    Ghazvinian, 2007; UNDP, 2006; Ighodalo, 2006, Ibeanu, 2000)) have focused almost
    exclusively on the effects of oil spill from vandalised pipelines on the environment.
    Overall, writers on the management of oil resources focus on attendant violent armed
    conflicts, the financial worth of oil theft, suppression, exploitation and environmental
    degradation. These studies suggest that oil abundance has become a curse in Nigeria in general
    and the Niger Delta in particular. However, the relationship between the dynamics of oil
    resource management and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, is yet to be given adequate
    systematic scrutiny between 1999 and 2011. This study is poised to investigate and fill this gap
    in the literature.
    1.6 Theoretical Framework
    This study adopts the political economy approach. As noted by Momoh and Hundeyin
    (2000:38) political economy is “a technical and yet quite useful tool of scientific analysis. It
    provides for a holistic study of issues, phenomena and policies in any society”. There are
    different political economy models of analysis. However, this study appropriates the most
    popular strand of political economy, which is the Marxist perspective. Its main argument is
    51
    summarized by the famous statement by Karl Marx in the Preface to A Contribution to the
    Critique of Political Economy. According to Marx (1970: 20-21):
    In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite
    relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of production
    appropriate to a given stage in their development of material forces of
    production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the
    economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal
    and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social
    consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the
    general process of social, political and intellectual life.
    Marx strongly argued that the economic structure of society significantly influences the
    character of the superstructure which includes the political, legal, cultural and religious
    relations and institutions of society. But this does not imply a unidirectional model. Account is
    also taken of dialectical relations; a form of feedback process in which the superstructure also
    influences the economic substructure. Marx further noted that the application of political
    economy approach involves the following critical issues:
    i. Examination of the state as the epitome of bourgeois society especially analysis of its
    relation to itself;
    ii. Analysis of the categories which constitutes the internal structure of the bourgeoisie
    society and on which the principal classes are based;
    iii. International conditions of production such as international division of labour,
    international exchange, export and import, rate of exchange;
    iv. World market crises; and
    v. General abstract definition.
    As a tool for social research, Ilyin and Motyler (1986:30) argued that the central focus
    of political economy is the “studies of the relations of production in their complex interaction
    with the productive forces and the superstructure”. Political economy uses dialectical
    materialism as its methodological approach of inquiry. It takes off from materialist
    understanding of history and brings out the inner driving forces in the interaction of the
    52
    productive forces and the relations of productions. Ake (1981) provided hypotheses for
    understanding both the nature of African politics and the travails of post-colonial capitalist state
    in Africa. He argues that the nature and structure of the economy, the availability or
    unavailability of resources, the size and nature of the elites competing for it, and the level of
    development or its absence, have implications for the nature of a given country’s politics. The
    fundamental theoretical proposition of the political economy approach, therefore is that:
    Once we understand what the material assets and constraints of a society are,
    how the society produces goods to meet its material needs, how the goods are
    distributed, and what types of social [criminal and prebendal] relations arise
    from the organisation of production, we have come a long way to understanding
    the culture of that society, its laws, its religious system, its political system and
    even its modes of thought (Ake, 1981:1).
    In other words, understanding the productions and production relations of a society is
    the basis for understanding its political system. As a theoretical approach to the study of social
    phenomenon, political economy is anchored on four methodological assumptions. First, is that
    it gives primacy to material conditions, particularly economic factors, in the explanation of
    social life. Hence it advocates for particular attention to be paid to the economic substructure of
    society, and indeed use it as the point of departure for studying other aspects of society.
    Second, it emphasizes the dynamic character of reality. This requires that the analyst views
    society as something which is full of movement and dynamism, the movement and dynamism
    being provided by the contradictions which pervade existence. Third, it focuses on the
    relatedness of different elements of society, especially economic structure, social structure,
    political structure and the belief system. According to this theory, it is the economic factor
    which is the most decisive of all these elements of society and which largely determine the
    character of the others. That is not to say that the economic structure is autonomous and strictly
    determines the others. All the social structures are interdependent and interact in complex
    ways. Each one of them affects the character of every other one and is in turn affected by it’.
    53
    Fourth, it treats problems concretely rather than abstractly, by adopting a developmental
    perspective. By putting social phenomenon in the context of their development, this theory
    enables us to understand not only how social phenomenon come to be what they are, but also to
    make reasonable conjecture as to what they might become.
    From Ake (1981:1-8), Alemika and Chukwuma (2000:4), (West, 2006:2-3) and Norad
    (2010:7-10), the central propositions of the political economy framework as it relates to our
    study could be synthesised as follows:
    i. The centrality of the state and its apparatuses as the main instrument of primitive
    accumulation especially by the dominant class and their collaborators.
    ii. Concerned first and foremost with power and interests. It analyses social and
    political processes as the outcome of struggles for control over resources and
    positions.
    iii. Treat the economy and the political as monolithic units that continue to exact
    remarkable influence on each other. Hence the intricate linkages between
    political and economic structures determine society’s general values, cultures
    and norms as well as the direction and practice of governance.
    iv. The primacy of material condition of society. Individual or collective social
    attitudes or behaviours are conditioned by the realities of production,
    distribution and exchange in society. Hence, conflicts and criminality emerge
    not only in response to opportunities, but also as a process that continually seeks
    to undermine the state due to contradictions inherent in its economy.
    v. The relatedness of different elements of society, especially economic structure,
    social structure, political structure, the belief system and even the environment.
    vi. Integrates analysis of the domestic productive structure and relations with
    international structure, relations and transactions, including understanding the
    nature of international division of labour, international exchange, world market
    and crises.
    Application of the Theory
    This theory is fecund in analysing oil resources management and illegal oil bunkering in
    Nigeria by focusing on the structure and dynamics of primitive capital accumulation in the oilbased
    Nigerian state. The framework will not only enhance our appreciation of the intricacies
    of illegal oil bunkering prevalent in Nigeria’s capitalist oil industry, but will help in revealing
    54
    how the incorporation of Nigeria into the global capitalist system and the nature and character
    of the operation of the oil industry provides the context for primitive capital accumulation by
    groups, oil multinationals and individuals.
    First, the political economy approach emphasises the place and centrality of the State
    and its apparatuses as the main instrument of primitive accumulation especially by the
    dominant class and their collaborators in a capitalist society. Nigeria was the creation of the
    (British) colonial state. Through its coercive apparatus, the colonial state defined Nigeria
    territorially, and forcefully integrated the various political forms and pre-capitalist modes at
    different stages of development into the global capitalist system. In this way, “the Nigerian
    colonial state served the interests of global accumulation at the periphery through the local
    extraction and transfer of resources to the metropolis” (Obi, 2003:263). This implied that under
    colonialism, state power was used for primitive capital accumulation. At independence, “the
    emergent ruling class was more interested in reproducing the neo-colonial character of the state
    and the conditions for their domination, and continued the use of state power for primitive
    capital accumulation” (Ifesinachi, 2006:2).
    As a result of this colonial experience, the privatisation of the state for primitive
    accumulation became a defining character of the Nigerian state. In Nigeria, politics is largely
    seen as a means of accumulating wealth; and because the state is the object of political
    competition and medium for the allocation of resources, it has been effectively used to achieve
    the goal of primitive accumulation. The result is the privatisation of the state by custodians of
    power at all levels of governance (federal, state and local) and its consequent utilisation for the
    pursuit of individual, sectional and ethno-regional interests; as against the pursuit of common
    interests or the public good (Ibaba, 2008; Ake 2001, Ekekwe 1986; Oyovbaire 1980). As
    elaborated by Ikelegbe (2008:111), being “a neo-colonial capitalist peripheral economy, the
    state remained controlled by a dependent comprador ruling class, which is accumulative,
    55
    parasitic, violent, exploitative, corrupt, profligate and unproductive, depending largely on oil
    rent for capital accumulation”.
    With the discovery and ascendancy of oil in post-colonial Nigerian economy, the
    character of the state and emergent ruling class did not change. In pursuit of its capital
    accumulation objective, the state increased its involvement in the oil industry by entering into
    joint venture partnership with the oil majors as majority shareholder. Its majority shareholding
    in the oil majors did not amount to its control of the oil industry. Its role was largely limited to
    the issuance of oil blocks and the collection of rents. However, it brought the state and the oil
    majors into an intimate relationship. Thus, the Nigerian State shares a common interest with the
    oil multinationals in the accumulation of capital at the least possible cost (Owugah, 2008).
    Naturally, it is in the oil sector that the unbridled acquisitive instinct for primitive
    accumulation of wealth by the ruling class and its cronies has been displayed very prominently.
    According to Omoweh (2006:49):
    Patronage has ruled the operations of both the up- and down-stream sectors of
    the country’s oil and gas industry since 1960 when Nigeria gained political
    independence… Virtually all the nation’s past and present heads of state and
    presidents have been indicted as major players either directly or by proxy in the
    country’s energy sector. They have, both when in office and after retirement,
    continued to maintain strong links with the oil sector, deciding who gets which
    oil blocks and its renewal, licenses to lift crude oil and refined petroleum
    products, among others.
    This firm grip on the oil sector by successive regime heads in Nigeria has been
    responsible for the violence and insecurity that confronts the Nigerian State essentially because
    conflicts and criminality erupt when citizens aggrieved over prolong injustice and poor
    governance begin to violently demand for change and challenge the authority of the state
    (Ezirim, 2011). The ruling elite in Nigeria has apportioned to themselves the largesse that
    trickles down from the rentier dynamics of the state such that they engage directly with the
    MNCs, thus giving them the opportunity to distribute oil wealth to themselves and their cronies
    in the form of sale of oil blocks. The huge amount of money made from these helps them to
    56
    become the power base of the society and therefore, in a prebendal mode of behaviour
    determines who gets what, when and how (Joseph, 1987; Sandbakken 2006; Thurber et al.
    2010, Ezirim, 2011).
    As rightly noted by Norad (2010:12), “to stay in power, the rulers may instead rely on
    strategies of patronage, crime, corruption, aid, or mineral extraction”. In the case of Nigeria,
    those in authority are able to maintain their hold on power and protect their vast economic
    interests and those of the oil multinationals through the patronage allocation of oil blocks,
    which usually are at variance with the interests of ordinary masses especially the oil host
    communities. This state of affairs has exposed the crisis of the Nigerian State, underpinning
    citizens’ resort to opportunism and criminality in the form of oil banditry – illegal oil
    bunkering, maritime piracy, oil pipeline vandalisation, attack on oil-laden vessels, and seizure
    of oil platforms.
    Characteristic of the level of oil banditry that ensued was the emergence and activities
    of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). MEND is/was an
    amorphous militant group waging a violent campaign in the impoverished Niger Delta
    region. The operational tactics of the militant groups included hostage-taking of oil workers,
    sabotage of oil facilities, attacks on oil vessels, illegal oil bunkering, kidnapping and ransom
    receipts, among others. This development negatively impacted on oil production in the region.
    This has been corroborated by Bischoff (2010:4), who posited that “the insurgency led by
    MEND and its affiliates has since 2006 almost halved oil production in the Delta Region.
    Before 2006, Nigeria was producing about 2.6 million bpd. However, after several crippling
    attacks by militants, the figure came down to 1.5 million bpd”. This experience clearly shows
    that patronage allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host communities
    in the Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry.
    57
    Another proposition of the political economy approach is the emphasis on the material
    condition of society. Hence it advocates for particular attention to be paid to the economic
    substructure of society, and indeed use it as the point of departure for studying other aspects of
    society. In this connection, individual or collective social attitudes or behaviours whether
    violent or non-violent are products of the material conditions of any given society. The
    discovery of oil in Nigeria, coupled with its ascendancy as the major foreign exchange earner
    for the nation, has led to the aggressive expansion of the oil industry, serviced by 105
    kilometers of pipelines for condensates, 1,896 kilometers for natural gas, 3,638 kilometers for
    oil, and 3,626 kilometers for refined products. The oil pipelines and other-related infrastructure
    transverse through the length and breadth of the Niger Delta region, thereby making them
    integral part of the Niger Delta environment.
    Since the Niger Delta is the host of Nigeria’s oil wealth, it is expected that the region
    will benefit from the enormous wealth generated by the Nigerian state from oil extraction. As
    noted by Ugwuanyi (2011), many years of oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta have
    generated billions of dollars in revenue for the government. However, the majority of the 30
    million people living in the region remain poor and unemployed. Frustrated by the lack of
    benefits from oil production, youths and sometimes oil-host communities have targeted the
    operations of MNOCs protesting the degradation of their natural environment and demanding
    better social services and a greater share of oil revenues.
    Ordinarily, the state’s interests in exploitation of oil should be to enable it fulfil its
    obligation of ensuring the socio-economic well-being as well as the personal and property
    security of its citizens. In this regard, the protection of the natural environment upon which the
    local people depend for livelihood security and survival should be of utmost interest to the
    state. Instead, the Nigerian state’s role has been to enable those in power and in top positions to
    enrich themselves through primitive accumulation of oil wealth. They see the realization of the
    58
    interests of the citizens, especially the oil-host communities, as a threat to the realisation of
    theirs. For them, the provision of basic amenities such as good roads, electricity, pipe borne
    water, healthcare, affordable education, environmental remediation, and employment
    opportunities for the people would cut into the amount they intend to accumulate for their selfenrichment.
    This is because the fulfilment of its obligation of ensuring the well-being of its
    citizens is not a major priority of the ruling class. Hence, the measures taken by the state and
    the oil companies to actualize their accumulation drive were largely at the expense of the
    fulfilment of the expectations of the oil producing communities. This is evident in the failure of
    MNCs to adhere strictly to environmental best practices in the exploitation of oil. The result is
    the degradation of the environment of the oil host communities of the Niger Delta.
    Instead of rising to protect the interest of the local people by ensuring that MNCs
    adhere strictly to environmental regulations that preserve the quality of the environment, the
    Nigerian state colludes with the MNCs to deprive oil host communities of their environmental
    rights. This is hardly surprising given that the role of the Nigerian state as orchestrated by the
    indigenous ruling class is to maintain and consolidate the capitalist mode of production, and in
    the process dispossessing the oil-bearing communities their rights through various obnoxious
    laws.
    With the expansion of oil production and declining adherence to environmental best
    practices in resource extraction, the incidence of environmental degradation has increased
    considerably in the region due to oil spills. Spills occur accidentally and through the deliberate
    actions of the people, who sabotage pipelines in protest against the operations of the oil
    industry. Available records show that a total of 6,817 oil spills occurred between 1976 and
    2001, with a loss of approximately three million barrels of oil (UNDP, 2006).
    The oil-host communities whose lands and water are being exploited and polluted
    hardly get commensurate benefit from the oil wealth. Rather in “the midst of plenty, majority
    59
    suffer from poverty, squalor, unemployment and misery” (Iruonagbe, 2008:640). This
    exemplifies the material conditions of host communities of oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
    Thus the resort to environmental degradation or resource control protests by the youths and oil
    host communities in the Niger Delta is a logical outcome of a systematic but prolonged period
    of the neglect, deprivation and poverty visited on the people of the oil producing communities
    by the Nigerian state. This largely defines the nature of the contradictions driving the struggle
    for access to oil wealth, which also manifests in spiral violent protests and agitations in the oilrich
    region. These violent protests and agitations in turn create and reinforce an atmosphere of
    chaos that permits high rate of vandalisation of oil infrastructure – pipelines, wellheads and
    manifolds, among others – to tap and sale petroleum products.
    The logical deduction therefore is that the prevailing pattern of production, distribution
    and exchange in the Nigerian society which is characterised by exploitation, marginalisation
    and dispossession underpins societal contradictions that usually manifest in criminality,
    insecurity and conflicts. Therefore, conflicts, violence and “criminality in the Niger Delta
    emerge not only in response to opportunities, but also as a process that continually seeks to
    undermine the state due to contradictions inherent in its economy” (West, 2006:1).
    In view of this, the issue of hazardous oil transactions such as pipeline vandalisation
    and artisanal refining of stolen crude oil which contribute significantly to the degradation of the
    environment are located within the context of the struggle for access to, and benefit from, oil
    wealth. Media reports show that the Niger Delta environment is increasingly being affected by
    oil spills from pipeline sabotage, vandalisation and artisanal refining of stolen oil (Nigerian
    Compass, 2011, Ogoigbe, 2011; Amanze-Nwachukwu, 2011). While unrests in the region have
    considerably declined since the 2009 Presidential Amnesty initiative, crude oil theft and illegal
    refining of petroleum products have persisted as many of the perpetrators regard their criminal
    act as a way of cutting their own proverbial National Cake. In other words, those who are
    60
    involved in protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta are
    wilfully or inadvertently indulging in acts that destroy the very environment they make claims
    over its despoliation by MNOCs.
    As of January 2010, it was reported that about 878 of illegal refineries have been
    destroyed by the JTF in the Niger Delta region. Over 12 of these illicit refineries were
    destroyed in January 2009 alone, and 150 were destroyed in November 2009 (Ukudolo, 2010).
    Consequently, explosions from ruptured oil pipelines and the operation of illegal refineries
    have often led to the death of those involved in these acts as well as innocent people not
    involved in the hazardous oil transactions. More so, the ecology is destroyed when oil leaks
    from vandalised pipelines or when criminal gangs locally refine stolen crude oil and recklessly
    dump effluents on lands and water in the region. The scenario clearly shows that protests over
    oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to the proliferation of illegal oil
    refineries in the Niger Delta between 1999 and 2011.
    Another proposition of the theory emphasises the integration of an analysis of the
    domestic productive structure and relations with international structure, relations and
    transactions, including understanding the nature of international division of labour,
    international exchange, world market and crises. This suggests that every capitalist economy is
    connected to the global capitalist system of production characterised by international division
    of labour, international exchange, and trade. This proposition leads the research to examine the
    issue of the domestic productive structure of Nigeria (in this case, the structure of its oil-based
    economy) and how it is connected to the global political economy by transnational actors and
    structures.
    In this regard, Nigeria’s oil industry operates in partnership with MNOCs that dominate
    the technology of oil production, alongside the global shipping powers and navies that ply and
    patrol the maritime oil supply routes. In this way, the country’s oil economy is locked into
    61
    complex and opaque transnational ties with global forces based largely on the joint exploitation
    of oil ‘enclave investments’ (Ferguson 2005). The reality is that MNOCs largely dominates the
    sophisticated technology, management skills and globally integrated operations of the upstream
    section of the oil industry in Nigeria, giving them considerable leverage in dealing with the
    ‘revenue-collecting’ oil-dependent Nigerian state as well as building save haven for sharp
    practices such as excess oil lifting/illegal bunkering (Asuni, 2009).
    The nature of Nigeria’s oil industry and consequent integration into the global capitalist
    economy has ensured the existence of international structures and ties that facilitates oil-based
    leakages. As highlighted by Obi (2010a:487)
    The transnational nature of extractive oil actors operating in oil-producing
    enclaves such as the Niger Delta underscores the point that the global
    political economy plays a defining role in power and social relations around
    oil and its ‘curse’. Therefore the oil curse is not entirely internal to the oilrich
    state, nor is the conflict or corruption limited to local and state actors,
    rather it is embedded in the commodification of oil by transnational
    economic forces as an object of high profit and strategic value in the global
    market, making such actors central to the negative spin-offs from globalised
    oil extraction.
    Crude oil or petroleum is widely considered the most viable source of energy in the
    world. It is the energy lynchpin around which modern capitalism and consumerism as a global
    system revolve. Oil is a key element of global power. Thus, the stakes in controlling or
    obtaining oil are very high, and constitute a core interest of the world’s powers. It also means
    that “Nigeria as a valued source of oil and a gas supply is central to the strategic calculations of
    the world’s oil-dependent dominant powers” (Obi, 2010a:485). This is all the more so because
    Nigeria is the most prolific oil producer in Sub-Saharan Africa, and its ‘light and sweet crude’,
    also called ‘Bonny Light’, is well sought after in the international oil market. This means that
    whether legally or illicitly obtained, a market for its sale is almost guaranteed.
    For this and other reasons, the outbreak and persistence of oil theft in the Niger Delta
    strictly speaking is not the inevitable outcome of purely internal predatory activities of a few
    62
    elite or criminal gangs in Nigeria. It encompasses a complex web of transnational-local
    linkages and ties to the global market in the form of MNOCs, international shipping lines,
    foreign businessmen and refineries, among others. Therefore, it is the existence of “these
    transnational ties or forces and their local partners – the ruling elites in Nigeria that have
    subordinated Nigeria’s oil more to the interest of a globally integrated oil market, and less with
    the demands and interests of local people and economies” (Obi, 2010a:489). In this
    connection, Bayart, Ellis and Hibou (1999:9) contend that “the relationship between
    accumulation and power is henceforth situated in a context of internationalisation and of
    growth of organised crime on a probably unprecedented scale”. The world system is subject to
    a simultaneous process of globalisation and loss of precise territorial definition, which may not
    lead to the eclipse of the state as an organ of power, but which is most surely leading to the
    development of transitional relations between societies. Criminal activities (such as illegal oil
    trade) are greatly affected by this evolution, and quite often they thrive in this environment.
    One of the consequences of this particular conjecture of factors is the erosion of the
    legitimacy of the Nigerian state. The Nigerian State has, rather than serving as a vehicle for
    development, been hijacked by a group who have turned the national economy into a tool for
    capital accumulation (Mariamaina, 2011). Due to the corruption of its leaders, the state lacks
    credible legitimacy to stop oil thieves. The result is that sophisticated syndicates involving
    political actors, state officials, oil company staff, armed youth groups and the security agencies
    are implicated in illegal oil bunkering.
    For instance, on 16 September 2010, the Nigerian Navy arrested three vessels, namely,
    MT Onne, MT Dominion and MT Theresa, involved in illegal oil bunkering within the
    Nigerian coastal areas (Bergen Risk Solutions, 2011). It was found that MT Dominion has
    document belonging to MT Blessing and MT Theresa was with documents belonging to MT
    Panafric Explorer: a wanted vessel that absconded after committing an economic crime in
    63
    Lagos waters before being arrested in Bonny Fairway Buoy. One of the arrested vessels
    allegedly possessed some substances suspected to be crude oil, which confirmed the vessel’s
    involvement in illegal oil bunkering. Similarly in December 2011, the Nigerian Maritime
    Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) arrested and detained a vessel, MT BEE, for
    engaging in illegal bunkering in Nigeria territorial waters. The vessel had 17,000 tonnes of
    petroleum products on-board as at the time of its arrest and was operating without any valid
    documentation for its cargo. Some of these vessels are not registered in Nigeria. For instance, it
    was discovered that the original name of the “MT BEE” which was arrested in December 2011
    was “MT BEAVER”. Also, of the twenty five crew members onboard the vessel, only one was
    a Nigerian with the other twenty four being Philipinos (Bivbere and Ejoh, 2012).
    The intermittent arrests of vessels involved in illegal oil bunkering, however, mask the
    reality that corruption in the security agencies helps to sustain the trade. In a United States
    diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks in 2010, it was alleged that politicians, retired
    admirals, generals and others members of the country’s elite profit from of oil thefts or illegal
    oil bunkering (Amanze-Nwachukwu, 2011). In 2006, for instance, seven admirals and three
    captains were retired from the Nigerian Navy because of their complicity in the disappearance
    of the oil-laden ship, NN African Pride, which was undergoing investigation for involvement in
    illegal oil bunkering (Ojiabor, 2007:8). Thus, by considering illegal oil bunkering to be a result
    of some particular forms of connections and relations between some actors in Nigeria and those
    in the international market, this theory shows that leakages in the control of illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta sustained an international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian
    coastal waters between 1999 and 2011.
    The conclusion that emerges from this theoretical standpoint is that the analysis of
    illegal oil bunkering cannot be carried out independently from the analysis of the arbitrary
    management of oil resources which has significantly shaped the political and economic
    64
    structures of the capitalist Nigerian state, including its consequences for the natural
    environment or ecology of the Niger Delta. Therefore, the contending forces over access to oil,
    the locus of power, extraction, and accumulation of resources, constitute the theoretical
    elements that must be objectively confronted in seeking to understand the patronage dynamics
    of oil resources management and the resultant illicit oil transactions (illegal oil bunkering and
    oil theft) in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region between 1999 and 2011.
    1.7 Hypotheses
    Based on the foregoing, the working hypotheses that guide this study are as follows:
  10. Allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class led oil host communities in the
    Niger Delta to engage in oil banditry between 1999 and 2011.
  11. Protests over oil exploitation and environmental degradation gave rise to the
    proliferation of illegal oil refineries and oil transactions in the Niger Delta between
    1999 and 2011.
  12. Security leakages in the control of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta sustained an
    international market for illegal oil trade in Nigerian coastal waters between 1999 and
    2011.
    1.8 Methods of Data Collection
    The method of data collection for this study is the qualitative method and field research.
    Thus, qualitative data refers to some collection of words, symbols, pictures, or other nonnumerical
    records, materials or artefacts by a researcher that has relevance to the social group
    under study. The uses for these data go beyond simple description of events and phenomena;
    rather, they are used for creating understanding, for subjective interpretation, and for critical
    analysis as well. Such data could be gathered from books, journals, newspapers, magazines,
    reports, and bulletins, among others.
    65
    Also documents, statistics and tables were sourced from the Nigerian National
    Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Central Bank of Nigeria
    (CBN), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA); the Nigerian
    Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI); the Nigerian Institute of International
    Affairs (NIIA) Lagos; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Abuja; and National
    Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
    Qualitative research is a method of inquiry employed in many different academic
    disciplines, traditionally in the social sciences. Qualitative method is a non-numerical data
    collection. The method aims to gather an in-depth understanding of human behaviour and the
    reasons that govern such behaviour. The qualitative method investigates the why and how of
    decision making, not just what, where, when. Hence, smaller but focused samples are more
    often needed, rather than large samples. The qualitative method produces information only on
    the particular cases studied, and any more general conclusions are only hypotheses. Burnham et
    al (2005:31) sees the qualitative method as “very attractive in that it involves collecting
    information in depth but form a relatively small number of cases”. He further noted that
    “analytic induction is often used by qualitative researchers in their efforts to generalize about
    social behaviour. Concepts are developed intuitively from the data, and are then defined,
    refined and their implications deduced from the data” (Burnham et al, 2004:41).
    In line with the qualitative method, the researcher gathered further data through
    unstructured interviews with some senior manpower of relevant agencies in the security sector
    – Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigerian Navy; and the Joint Task
    Force (JTF). Experts have noted that unstructured interviews or open-ended instruments “are
    especially useful when not much is known about an intellectual problem, when holistic
    information is needed, and especially when the respondent’s own frame of reference is
    required” (Leege and Francis, 1974:196). In this case, the investigator presents the subject with
    66
    a question, usually fairly direct, designed to simulate verbal response about the topic (Zikmund,
    and Babin 2010; Leege and Francis, 1974). This took the form of conversation in which the
    researcher probes deeply to cover new clues, to open up new dimensions of a problem, or to
    secure vivid, accurate and detailed accounts that are based on the interviewee’s personal
    experience of the subject under investigation (Zikmund, and Babin 2010). Table 1.1
    summarises our interview schedule and the lead questions asked to the respondents.
    Table 1.1: Summary of Target Respondents and Lead Questions for Field Research
    Population Sample Some Lead Questions Posed to Target Respondents
    Nigerian Navy
    10
  13. Can you throw more light on how organised cartel
    involved in illegal oil bunkering carry out their activities
    in Nigerian waters?
  14. While on sea patrol, have your team confronted or
    arrested vessels for illegal oil transactions in Nigerian
    waters?
  15. Besides Nigerians, are there people of other nationalities
    arrested for illegal oil bunkering in Nigerian waters?
  16. What do you do with persons and vessels arrested for
    illegal oil bunkering in Nigerian waters?
  17. What challenges hamper Nigerian Navy’s effort to
    maintain presence at sea to effectively deal with illicit
    maritime activities?
  18. Does the Nigerian Navy cooperate with other security
    agencies/countries in dealing with illegal oil bunkering?
  19. Do you think that maritime security agencies are
    cooperating well enough to deal with illegal oil
    bunkering? If yes, how? And if no, why?
  20. Are their case(s) of complicity of security agents in acts
    of oil theft/illegal oil bunkering that you are aware of?
    67
    Joint Task Force
    (Operation Restore Hope)
    10
  21. Can you give me an insight into how criminal gangs steal
    and refine crude oil in the creeks of the Niger Delta?
  22. What challenges hinders the effort of the JTF in
    combating pipeline vandalisation, oil theft and artisanal
    refining of stolen oil in your area of responsibility?
  23. Do you think that security agencies are cooperating well
    enough to deal with oil theft in the Niger Delta? If yes,
    how are they cooperating; and if no why?
  24. Does the JTF cooperate with other agencies or
    institutions to combat illicit oil transactions in the region?
  25. Are their case(s) of complicity of security agents in acts
    of oil theft/pipeline vandalisation that you are aware of?
  26. Was any disciplinary action taken against the accused
    security agent?
  27. What do you do with persons and barges arrested for oil
    theft?
  28. Are there other things you think I should know regarding
    oil theft for the purposes of my research that have not
    been captured in our conversation?
    Source: Researcher’s Fieldwork 2011-2012.
    In this way, “the subjects are encouraged to tell their own stories in their own words
    with prompting from the researcher” (Zikmund and Babin, 2010:111). Depending on their
    answers, some follow up questions were asked to gain more insight into the subject of concern
    to the researcher. Leege and Francis (1974:196) underscored the utility of this strategy in these
    very words:
    Probing often allows the investigator to discover the extent to which an
    attitude or opinion is informed by knowledge. Furthermore, if good
    rapport develops in the interview, the respondent is quite likely to drop his
    guard and offer all manner of information which would not likely be
    offered the crisp, mechanical response to fixed-alternative items; under
    these circumstances reliability and validity will be enhanced.
    The sampling technique used in selecting the respondents is the purposive sampling.
    Purposive sampling relies on the judgement of the researcher when it comes to selecting the
    units – e.g. people, cases/organisations, events, pieces of data – that are to be studied or
    interviewed. The main goal of purposive sampling is to focus on particular characteristics of a
    population that are of interest, which will best enable you to answer your research questions
    (see Patton, 1990; Kuzel, 1999). More specifically, the study adopted expert sampling, which is
    a type of purposive sampling technique that is used when the researcher needs to glean
    68
    knowledge from individuals that have particular expertise. Expert sampling is particularly
    useful where there is a lack of empirical evidence in an area and high levels of uncertainty, as
    well as situations where it may take a long period of time before the findings from research can
    be uncovered (Lund, 2010).
    Expert sampling is particularly germane in investigating the third hypothesis of the
    study, which centred on the relationship between security leakages in the control of illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta and the sustenance of an international market for illegal oil trade
    in Nigerian coastal waters. The reality of illegal oil bunkering, including the existence of an
    international market for illegal oil trade, plays out much at the high seas: a domain far removed
    from public scrutiny. Thus, officers of the Nigerian Navy and the JTF are people with good
    knowledge of the intricacies of this form of offshore criminal activity. It is primarily, but not
    exclusively, from them that the researcher can gather more information regarding the issue. The
    advantages of this approach are that issues can be probed, answers can be clarified, and
    sensitive information may be obtained.
    The researcher sampled the views of officers of the various security agencies – NN and
    the JTF – who have either gone on surveillance or anti-illegal oil bunkering missions in
    Nigerian waters or senior officers occupying strategic level position who are vastly
    knowledgeable on the subject of illicit oil transactions. The limitation of the adopted sampling
    technique is the possibility of respondents showing prejudices or withholding information due
    to the sensitive nature of the subject. However, this limitation was overcomed through logical
    interpretation of investigative reports on illegal bunkering gleaned from Newspapers and
    Magazines.
    1.8.1 Research Design
    This research is based on the single case ex post facto design. An ex post facto design is
    used when experimental research is not possible, such as when people have self-selected levels
    69
    of an independent variable or when a treatment is naturally occurring and the researcher could
    not “control” the degree of its use. The researcher starts by specifying a dependent variable and
    then tries to identify possible reasons for its occurrence. This type of study is very useful when
    using human subjects in real-world situations and the investigator comes in “after the fact.”
    That is why the researcher needs to establish a plausible reason (research hypothesis) for why
    there might be a relationship between two variables before conducting a study (Diem, 2002).
    Cohen and Manion (1980) define the ex post facto design as those studies which
    investigate possible cause-and-effect relationships by observing an existing condition and
    searching back in time for plausible causal factors. According to Kerlinger (1973), the ex post
    facto design is a form of descriptive research in which an independent variable has already
    occurred and in which an investigator starts with the observation of a dependent variable; he
    then studies the independent variable in retrospect for its possible relationship to and effects on
    the dependent variable.
    This research design is very relevant to our study given the nature of the phenomena
    under investigation. In the context of this study, the issue of oil resources management and
    illegal oil bunkering are naturally occurring events that the researcher cannot control, which
    makes the ex post facto design more apt in this study. In this design, an existing case is
    observed for some time in order to ‘study’ or ‘evaluate’ it. Thus, there is no control or variation
    group in this design. There are series of “before’ observations and one case (subject) and series
    of “after” observations.
    Where:
    = Observation
    = Random assignment of subjects to groups and random assignment of
    treatments to groups.
    = Independent variable which is manipulated
    R B1 B2 B3 X A1 A2 A3
    O
    R
    X
    70
    = Independent variable
    = Before observation
    = First observation, that is prior to 1999.
    = Second observation, 1999-2011
    = Third observation, 2011- 2012
    = After observation in 1999
    = After observation in 2011
    = After observation 2012
    = Time order of observations, before and after
    The analytical routines involved in testing structural causality based on ex post facto
    analysis of the independent variable (X) and the dependent variable (Y) is based on
    concomitant variation. This is to demonstrate that (X) is the factor that determines (Y). This
    also legitimately infers that (X) does or does not enter into the determination of (Y). This infers
    that whenever (X) occurs there is likelihood that (Y) will follow at some point later. The
    criteria for inferring causality have been summarized by Selltiz et al (1976) as follows:
    (a) Co-variation between the presumed cause and presumed effect.
    (b) Proper time order, with the cause preceding the effect.
    (c) Elimination of plausible alternative explanations for the observed relationship.
    This design will guide us in testing the hypothesis which involves observing the
    independent variable (oil resource management) and dependent variable (illegal oil bunkering)
    at the same time because the effects of the former on the latter have already taken place before
    B
    Y
    1,2,3
    A1
    B1
    B2
    B3
    A2
    A3
    71
    this investigation. Randomized judgmental selections of series of “before” and “after”
    observations of the variables in Nigeria were used to test the hypotheses.
    In conducting our investigation, therefore, our first observation is on the nature of the
    management of oil resources before 1999, under military regimes. It was observed that the
    management of oil resources was largely restricted to the few military elite and their political
    cohorts. As a result, there was overwhelming control and centralised of appropriation of oil
    wealth by the military leadership. This accounts for why successive military Heads of State
    were alleged to have massively looted the treasury, in the absence of any strong democratic
    institutional oversight. While President Ibrahim Babangida was reported to have frittered away
    $12 billion oil windfall during the Gulf War in 1992, his successor, General Sani Abacha, was
    reputed to have stolen between $4-5 billion between 1994 and 1998 (Fagbadebo, 2007;
    Akomaye, 2007). Hence, much of Nigeria, especially the oil producing region, was denied of
    any development benefits. The mismanagement of enormous oil revenue amidst growing
    environmental degradation in the Niger Delta propelled oil host communities to start staging
    peaceful protests and demonstrations to get the oil companies and the Nigerian state to pay
    adequate attention to the plights of the region. These agitations however did not degenerate into
    petro-insurgency, partly because of the peculiar nature of military which is mainly autocratic
    and not elected by the people.
    Our second observation is on oil resources management and illegal oil bunkering within
    the Obasanjo’s administration in Nigeria (1999-2007). It was within this period that prolonged
    peaceful agitation over the inability of the new democratic government to provide oil-bearing
    communities with commensurate development programmes gave way to petro-insurgency and
    criminality. With the return to democracy, it was expected that the style of management of oil
    resources would be more responsive in a manner that ensures the provision of benefits to oil
    host communities. Instead, the new civilian administration continued with the prebendal
    72
    management of oil resources by allocating oil blocks to party loyalists, relatives and associates
    of top government officials. The non-transparent management of oil resources meant that
    benefits that should go to oil communities were appropriated by the ruling class. This propelled
    oil host communities to engage in oil banditry both as a form of protest against the deprivation
    of oil benefit and a means to livelihood. While the dimension of protest assumed the form of
    blowing up of oil facilities and hostage-taking of oil workers, the aspect of livelihood
    opportunity manifested clearly in illegal oil bunkering, artisanal refining of stolen crude oil and
    vandalisation of petroleum products pipelines. For example, the vandalisation of pipeline to
    steal crude oil and refined petroleum products jumped from 461 cases in 2001 to 3,224 in 2007
    (NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2010)
    Our third observation deals with the period 2007-2011, when Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s
    administration adopted political compromise as a major policy masterstroke in addressing some
    of the problems that underpinned crisis and criminality in the Niger Delta region. Of note are
    the creation of the Ministry of the Niger Delta on September 2008 and the granting of amnesty
    on August 2009. In view of the sustenance of the amnesty programme and other development
    interventions by Jonathan’s administration, the situation in the Niger Delta has improved
    considerably. This is evident in the significant reduction in the level of violent attacks on oil
    pipelines and infrastructure, translating to an increase in oil production from below 2 million
    bpd in 2006 to around 2.6 million bpd by March 2011 (Brock, 2011). Also, the rate of pipeline
    vandalisation declined from 3,224 cases in 2007 to 1,937 in 2010 (NNPC Annual Statistical
    Bulletin, 2010). However, the problem of oil banditry, environmentally hazardous oil
    transactions and market for illegal oil trade still exist in the region because there has not been
    any significant shift in the pattern of oil resources management away from patronage dynamics
    to a development-driven approach.
    73
    In this wise, this study is anchored on three hypotheses which seek to establish whether
    or not there is a link between allocation of oil blocks to members of the ruling class and oil
    banditry by host communities in the Niger Delta; protests over oil environmental degradation
    and proliferation of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta; and security leakages in the control of
    illegal oil business in the Niger Delta and sustenance of an international market for illegal oil
    trade in Nigerian coastal waters. These hypotheses are couched in relational terms; that is,
    dependent and independent variables. The usefulness of relational categorisation of variables
    lies in its general applicability, simplicity and special importance in conceptualising and
    designing research as well as communicating the results of research (Kerlinger 1973:35). These
    hypotheses and the main indicators of the major variables are contained in the Logical Data
    Framework.
    1.8.2 Method of Data Analysis
    The collection of data is only an aspect of the requirements for the validation or
    otherwise of hypotheses. The data so collected must be systematically analysed to demonstrate
    the relationship amongst variables. The data was analysed in the tradition of qualitative
    descriptive research with the application of ex post facto research design. Qualitativedescriptive
    is suitable for analysing data collected through qualitative methods. According to
    Iwueze (2009) qualitative method aims at understanding through examinations, description and
    interpretation of documented evidence, data and information from secondary sources.
    Qualitative-descriptive analysis is, therefore, a descriptive verbal analysis, which involves
    interpretation and explanation of not just qualitative data but quantitative data as well. Use of
    statistical analysis such as simple percentages to demonstrate frequency and trends in
    vandalisation of oil pipelines was adopted. The analysis and presentation of the data was done
    within the ambit of the political economy theoretical framework using statistical tables,
    graphics and maps to illuminate facts where and when necessary. Our logical data framework,
    which is presented below, served as the framework for our design and logic of analysis.
    Table 1.2: Logical Data Framework (LDF)
    Research
    Questions
    Hypotheses Variables Main Indicators Data/Source
    Did allocation of
    oil blocks to
    members of the
    ruling class lead
    oil host
    communities in
    the Niger Delta to
    engage in oil
    banditry between
    1999 and 2011
    (1) Allocation of oil
    blocks to members
    of the ruling class
    led oil host
    communities in the
    Niger Delta to
    engage in oil
    banditry
    .
    (X)
    Allocation of oil
    blocs to members
    of the ruling class
    Award of oil blocs to the rich
    on the basis of prebendalism,
    favouristism and clientelism;
    • Government officials issuing
    oil license to their cronies and
    relatives based on prebendal
    and patron-client networks;
    • Allocation of oil license to
    some companies that lacked
    the technology, expertise and
    capital for oil exploitation.
    • Government officials issuing
    oil blocs to political loyalists
    and regional elite
    • Petitions by aggrieved oil
    companies against nontransparent
    procedure in the
    NNPC records and
    reports
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    Reports of
    committees and
    panels
    101
    allocation of oil blocs
    • Revocation of oil blocks issued
    through non-transparent
    process
    • Secrete allocation of oil blocks
    to friends
    • Court litigations over improper
    award or re-award of oil
    blocks
    (Y)
    Oil banditry by
    host communities
    in the Niger Delta
    • Attacks on oil pipelines and
    installations by aggrieved
    community youth and
    militants;
    • Illegal oil bunkering;
    • Oil pipeline vandalisation;
    • Sea Piracy (Attacks on oilladen
    vessels)
    • Revolt of oil host
    communities;
    • Abduction and kidnapping of
    oil workers
    Report of the
    Special Security
    Committee on Oil
    producing Areas
    (Abuja, 2002)
    NNPC Annual
    Statistical Bulletin,
    (1999 – 2011)
    Report of the
    Technical
    Committee on the
    Niger Delta
    (November 2008)
    Compilation of
    media report on
    attacks on oil
    installations in the
    Niger Delta (by the
    Researcher, 2012)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta (Port
    Harcourt, 2008)
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    magazines
    Internet sources
    Reports of
    committees and
    panels
    (2.) Did protests
    over oil
    exploitation and
    environmental
    degradation give
    (2.) Protests over
    oil exploitation
    and
    environmental
    degradation gave
    (X)
    Protests over oil
    exploitation and
    environmental
    degradation
    Emergence and Proliferation
    of Ethnic Militants who are
    demanding for greater share of
    the oil wealth;
    • Clashes between the youths
    The Kaiama
    Declaration,
    (December 1998)
    Niger Delta
    Human
    102
    rise to the
    proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in the
    Niger Delta
    between 1999 and
    2011?
    rise to the
    proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in the
    Niger Delta
    between 1999 and
    2011.
    and security agents over
    breach of Memorandum of
    Understanding by MNOCs
    • Formation of groups
    demanding end to
    environmental pollution
    • Armed youths issuing
    ultimatum to oil workers and
    MNOCs to stop oil exploitation
    • demonstration by youth
    groups over contamination of
    water and farmland due to oil
    spillages
    • Demand for oil producing
    states to collect the revenues
    from oil (in terms of rents,
    royalties, taxes and other
    payments) and pay agreed
    taxes (or contributions) to the
    federal government
    • Seizure of oil facilities by
    community youth over nonpayment
    of adequate
    compensation by oil companies
    for oil spillages
    Development
    Report, (UNDP,
    2006)
    UNEP
    Environmental
    Assessment of
    Ogoniland
    (Nairobi: UNEP,
    2011)
    NBS Social
    Statistics in
    Nigeria (NBS
    2009)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (Y)
    Proliferation of
    illegal oil
    refineries and oil
    transactions in
    the Niger Delta
    Artisanal refining of stolen
    crude oil, called ‘cottage
    industries, such as the three
    illegal refineries around
    Odigbo, a village near the
    border between Bayelsa and
    Rivers states destroyed by the
    JTF;
    • Bursting of pipelines by
    militants and criminals gangs
    to siphon petrol, diesel and
    condensate;
    • Over 206 cases of fire outbreak
    from vandalised pipelines
    (between 2001 – 2011),
    resulting in death and bodily
    injury
    • Arrest of individuals involved
    in using drums to carry out
    rough heating up of stolen
    crude oil to produce PMS and
    AGO by the JTF;
    • Discharge of effluent and
    waste on land and water from
    NNPC Annual
    Statistical Bulletin,
    (1999 – 2011)
    Status of
    Prosecution of
    Petroleum Pipeline
    Vandals (NNPC,
    2009)
    Report of the
    Technical
    Committee on the
    Niger Delta
    (November 2008)
    Report of the
    Special Committee
    on the Review of
    Petroleum Product
    Supply and
    Distribution (Abuja,
    2000)
    Newswatch
    Magazines, “The
    Cartels Behind
    Nigeria’s Illegal
    103
    artisanal refining of stolen
    crude oil;
    • Reports of sale of adulterated
    petroleum products and
    condensates in some cities and
    towns of the Niger Delta that
    causes explosion
    • Reports of oil spillage from
    ruptured or vandalised crude
    oil pipelines and wellheads
    Refineries”
    (January 2009)
    JTF Documented
    List of Destroyed
    Illegal Refineries
    Text books and
    journal publications
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (3) Did leakages in
    the security control
    of illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    sustained an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters.
    (3) Leakages in the
    security control of
    illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    sustained an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters.
    (X)
    Leakages in the
    security control of
    illegal oil
    bunkering in the
    Niger Delta
    Report of court-martial and
    dismissal of security agents for
    aiding and abetting illegal oil
    bunkering in the Niger Delta;
    • Reports of corruption and
    collusion between state
    security agencies and group
    involved in illegal oil
    bunkering and theft
    • Report of disappearance of
    ships in Navy custody that
    were arrested for illegal oil
    bunkering
    • Report of arrest and
    prosecution of foreigners for
    carrying illegal oil;
    • Inadequate Installation of
    meters
    • Report of collection of
    ‘passage fees’ from illegal oil
    bunkering cartels by security
    agents
    • Poor communication and
    coordination among
    (maritime) security agencies
    • Inadequate platforms for
    surveillance and control
    Interview with
    Senior Navy
    Officers
    Interview with
    former JTF
    Commanders
    Interview with
    Officers of the
    EFCC
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Newspapers and
    Magazines
    Internet sources
    (Y)
    Sustenance of an
    international
    market for illegal
    oil trade in
    Nigerian coastal
    waters
    Report of arrest and/or
    prosecution of Nigerians and
    foreigners involved in illegally
    procuring and transporting of
    crude oil to high seas from
    Nigeria’s coastal territory;
    • Seizure or detention of oilladen
    vessels by the Nigerian
    Navy found to be illegally
    operating in Nigeria’s waters
    without valid documents or
    with forged receipts;
    • Seizure of large wooden
    boats, called ‘Cotonou Boats’
    in local parlance and barges
    List of vessels
    arrested by the
    Nigerian Navy
    (2011)
    Transnational
    Trafficking and the
    Rule of Law in
    West Africa: A
    Threat Assessment
    (2009).
    Nigerian Navy
    Handover Note of
    arrested vessels to
    EFCC
    Compilation of
    104
    used in transporting stolen oil
    • Unauthorised ship-to-ship
    transfer of crude oil and
    petroleum products in
    Nigerian territorial waters
    • Reports of seizure of drums
    and containers used in
    evacuating locally refined
    petroleum products
    • Reports of existence of “spot
    market” at high seas where
    stolen oil is exchanged
    media report on
    vessels arrested for
    illegal bunkering
    (Researcher, 2012)
    EFCC Ongoing
    High-Profile
    Cases, 2007-2010
    (EFCC 2011)
    Conference
    Proceedings on the
    Niger Delta (2009)
    Text books and
    journal
    publications.
    Internet sources


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