he Niger Delta remains an abandoned and abused minority region in Nigeria, where in the age of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
wealth derived from its lands and waters serves to degrade the environment and impoverish its citizens. As long as injustice of this immeasurable nature remains uncorrected; as long as extreme poverty in
the midst of abundance is not eliminated; as long as
corruption with impunity is not stamped out and politically motivated violence that impedes popular participation goes unpunished; as long as a sense of frustration and hopelessness is overlooked and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is tolerated; as
long as world democracies continue to pamper Nigeria’s
competitive authoritarian regime in the name of selfish
self-interest and stability, and multinational oil corporations remain devoid
of humane standards of operation, democracy in Nigeria will remain a façade
and threatened. And a world thirsty for Nigerian oil, but indifferent to its population, will have on its hands a catastrophe—a humanitarian crisis waiting to
—Anyakwee Nsirimovu, June 8, 2009
Anyakwee Nsirimovu
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow
National Endowment for Democracy
June 8, 2009
The views expressed in this presentation represent the analysis and
opinions of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the
National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.
“Year after year, we were
clenched in tyrannical
chains and led through a
dark alley of perpetual
political and social
deprivation. Strangers in
our own country! Inevitably,
therefore, the day would
come for us to fight for our
long-denied right to selfdetermination.”
—Isaac Adaka Boro, The
Twelve-Day Revolution
Map of Nigeria
Map of the Nigeria
Delta Region
 “Competitive authoritarianism,” rather than quality
democracy, has compounded social instability, enabled
bad governance, & permitted the primitive accumulation
of wealth.
 Decades of neglect and frustrated expectations have
resulted in unprecedented levels of violence, especially
amongst the youth who feel that they have been
condemned to a life without hope.
 Conflict and a call to arms is seen as a strategy to escape
 The Niger Delta region is central to the survival of Nigeria. It is
emblematic of all that is wrong, yet remains indicative of the
hopes for a better country.
 If we get the Niger Delta right, we get Nigeria right.
 Traditionally fishermen and farmers, the inhabitants of the
Niger Delta are not a homogenous entity, but share common
interests and problems.
Source: National Population Census, 2006
 Various peoples were organized into distinct city-states at
least four centuries before colonization
 Five major ethno-linguistic groups: Ijaoid, Yaroboid, Edoid,
Iboid, Delta Cross
 Some of these groups extend beyond the Niger Delta
Source: ERML Field Survey, 2005
Source: National Bureau of Statistics, 2005
Source: Federal Ministry of Health, National HIV and
Source: Federal Ministry of Health, National HIV/AIDS Sentinel Survey, 2003;
Federal Ministry of Water Resources Survey, 2006.
Source: Socio-economic Survey on
Nigeria, 2006
 1914: Nigeria is “created” by Britain
 1946: Constitution establishes regional legislatures
 1954: Federal Constitution introduced—Nigeria is split
into 3 regions and those in Niger Delta become minorities
in both Eastern and Western regions
1957: London Conference
September 1957: Willink Commission
1958: Recommendations of the Commission for Niger Delta
1960: Nigeria is granted independence, ushering in an era
of internal colonialism
1966: Military coup topples government
 “The policy of squeezing maximum production from the
Niger Delta is a deliberate policy carried out by a harsh and
repressive regime” (Sagay 2001: 25).
 Provisions that both enable and ensure this status quo:
• Revenue Sharing Formula (1960)
• The Pipelines Act (1965)
• The Petroleum Decree (1969)
• Decree No. 9 (1971)
• The Land Use Act (1978)
• The Associated Gas Re-Injection Decree (1985)
• Successive amended constitutions, in particular, section 44(3) of
1999 Constitution
Nigeria’s OPEC Quota (1999–2007) millions of barrels/day
OPEC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
fsdfds in Millions
Crude Oil Production
of Barrels per Day (1997–2007)
Source: OPEC Annual Stat. Survey, 2007
Total Oil Export Revenue in
Billion US Dollars (1999–2007)
Source: OPEC Annual Stat. Survey, 2007
“Sustainable development mandates a holistic approach to
development sensitive to the needs of human beings and the
environment.” —Puvimanainghe (2000: 36)
“The human dimension of development is the only dimension of
intrinsic worth.” —Jolly and Stewart (1986: 35–36)
Findings of Human Rights Watch Report (1999):
The evidence . . . suggests that companies benefit from nonenforcement of laws regulating the oil industry, in ways directly
prejudicial to the resident population.
Oil companies benefit from federal laws that deprive local
communities of rights in relation to the land they treat as theirs.
Grievances . . . center on the appropriation or unremunerated use of
community or family resources, health problems or damage to
fishing, hunting or cultivation attributed to oil spills or gas flares,
and other operations leading to a loss of livelihood; as well as oil
company failure to employ sufficient local people . . . or to generate
benefits for local communities from the profits that they make.
Source: Human Rights Watch, The Price of Oil, 1999
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor
freedom and yet depreciate agitation are men who want crops without
plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning.
They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters...
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never
—Frederick Douglass
 1990: Ken Saro-Wiwa founds Movement
 Ogoni Bill of Rights:
demands political autonomy within the Nigerian Federation
observes that the ruthless policies of successive Nigerian governments
pushed the Ogoni to near extinction
decries the forced disappearance of local languages, unacceptable
environmental degradation, and lack of education, health services,
and other social facilities
notes that in over 30 years of oil mining, Ogoniland provided the
Nigerian government with revenues of $30 billion. In return, the
Ogoni people have received nothing. . .
 1998: The Kaiama Declaration:
presents the universally accepted position of the Ijaw people
outlines in detail how the quality of life has deteriorated as a result of
official neglect, suppression, and marginalization
exposes the link between oil companies and the Nigerian
government—a union that causes untold destruction
underlines the root causes of the now ecologically devastated Ijawland
and observes that those in government, and civilian collaborators,
continue to amass untold amounts of wealth at the expense of local
communities . . .
recognizes the negative role of British colonialism (the Ijaw nation
was unjustly aggregated as part of the Nigerian state)
“Cognizant of the fact that our right
to self-determination, resource
ownership and control cannot be
actualized without the abolition of
all anti-people laws and policies, we
demand the immediate abolition of
the following laws: The Land Use
Act of 1978, The Petroleum Act of
1969 . . . These objectionable laws
are repressive and cannot guarantee
our survival if they continue to
exist...they deny us the use of our
God-given resources . . .”
 1960–1966: Niger Delta Development Board
 1972–1994: Niger Delta River Basin Authority
 1982–1991: The so-called 1.5%Commission
 1992–1999: Oil and Minerals Producing Area
Development Commission (OMPADEC)
 1998: Petro Trust Fund, Popoola Committee Review
 2000: Niger Delta Development Commission
 2008: Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs
 1999: Transition Election
 2003 : National Election
 2007: National Election
 Political violence
 Proliferation of arms
 Recruitment of thugs
 Oil bunkering as compensation
 Impunity
 Primitive Accumulation/Money laundering
 Extreme poverty in the midst of abundance
 Shell, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Agip, Totalfina
 Local inhabitants no stake in oil companies
 Lack of corporate social responsibility
 Voluntary principles
 Environmental degradation
 Massive corruption
 Militarization and arms proliferation
 Lack of employment opportunities for local communities
 Armed groups have increasingly mobilized against oil
companies, declaring an absolute “oil war.”
 Mass protests, blockades, destruction of pipelines, and
kidnapping of oil workers are common occurrences.
 The region has become a breeding ground for arms
trafficking, weapons proliferation, and criminal activity—this
is especially so among youth.
 West Africa: 8–10 million
 Nigeria: 2–3 million
 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
 Europe
 Ex-combatants and deserters
 Poorly paid Peacekeeping troops
 Police station raids
The situation is exacerbated by porous borders, lax
export controls, state complicity, and
weak state institutions
Source: NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
Source: NNPC Annual Statistical Bulletin, 2007
 Cessation of hostilities in Niger Delta
 Immediate implementation of the Niger Delta Technical
Committee Report and the Electoral Reform Report
 Commitment to quality democracy and good governance
 Effective funding for Niger Delta Ministry and the Niger Delta
Development Commission
 Independence of anti-corruption agency Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission
 Prosecution of former corrupt Niger Delta governors
 Compliance of multinational oil companies
 Rule of law and judicial integrity
 Commitment to ECOWAS Mechanism on Small Arms
 Investigation of allegations of complicity in oil bunkering by
high-ranking politicians and the military
 Prosecution of human rights violations by the military
 Reform and reorientation of the Nigerian police
 Shun corruption
 Respect human rights
 Establish links with local communities
 Enforce corporate social responsibility
 Adhere to Memorandum of Understanding
 Implement Voluntary Principles
 Respect the rule of law
 Eternal vigilance
 Peace-building
 Oversight and early warning
 Capacity-building
 Information sharing and advocacy
 Coalition-building and networking
 Commitment to people-centered democracy
 Condition all foreign aid on quality of democracy
 Diplomatic pressure for dialogue
 Increase support for bottom-up democracy-building
 Re-think AFRICOM and military-training practices for
oppressive governments
 Encourage oil companies to observe minimum standards of
 Discourage corruption and money laundering
People first, oil second

Democracy under Fire in the Niger Delta