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NIGER DELTA CRISIS ON SOCIO-POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA (A CASE STUDY OF OHAJI/EGBEMA LOCAL GOVERNMENT)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Niger Delta region is located in the Southern part of Nigeria. The region is characterized by Swamps and high rainforest but through which the Niger River flows into the Atlantic Ocean multiple estuaries. The Niger Delta region is Nigeria’s treasure base. It represents the country’s economic heartbeat endeared with petroleum often referred to as the precious black-gold which earns over 90% of the country’s revenue. For over five decades, all the oil exploration and exploitation in the country had taken place within this region.
Expectedly, the occupation of the inhabitants of this region is predominantly farming and fishing taking advantage of the presence of the rich rainforest and large body of water.
According to Abati (2009:54) Nigeria Delta refers to the states of Cross River, Ondo, Imo, Abia, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Delta but more directly the last four states which face more peculiar problems. It is one of the largest wetland in the world and clearly, the largest in Africa.
It is a trite point that oil is important to the world as a major source of energy. Anywhere in the world where the vehicles tank is being filled with gasoline, or an engine is being run with diesel or any other fuel, a lantern or store is being filled with kerosene, or any petroleum based product is being used, there is a linkage to a complex process that involves exploration, refining, high-tech engineering and technology, human and material resources, the politics of nations and the rights and expectations of human beings.
Nigeria is at the centre of this process as the sixth largest producer of oil in the world and the largest oil producing country in Africa.
Oil was first discovered in Nigeria in 1908 but commercial exploration did not commence until the discovery of oil in Olobiri (now in Bayelsa State) in march 1957 (Abati 2009:54).
Nigeria’s inability to develop local capacity in oil exploration and to acquire the required technology, has made it possible for the multinational corporations engage in joint venture partnerships with it to get way with lopsided contractual agreements.
Nigeria is fully aware of its importance as an oil producing country and almost all the wealth that came the way of the country last fifty years (50 years) or more has been derived from oil.
However, before the discovery of oil in the Niger Delta, every region in Nigeria has means of generating wealth for development of their regions. There was great competition among the regions to see which would surpass the other in terms of development.
But the discovery of oil and the oil boom suddenly put an end to this as all Nigeria wanted a share of the national cake.
In the 1963 constitution, derivation was fifty percent (50%) and federal government got only thirty percent (30%). The same constitution granted the ownership of the continental shelf to the regions. By 1966, this had been constructively jettisoned controlling Nigeria oil resources became the federal government’s compulsive obsession. The civil war further exposed the strategic value of the oil resources in Niger Delta and as the military seized control of power and politics, exercising control over oil and revenue became a major task. In 1970, derivation had been reduced to forty five percent. (45%).
In 1975, it was further reduced to twenty five percent (25%). In 1981, the shagari administration took it all the way down to five percent (5%). It later went down to three percent (3%) under the Babangida administration.
In the 1999 constitution, derivation was fixed at thirteen percent (13%) on response to agitation by the oil producing communities.
Based on this development, youths in Obokafia, a community in Niger Delta region rose up with arms to struggle for the emancipation of their people in a bid to actualize the objectives of their struggle, different militia groups sprang up unfortunately, these groups resorted to violence instead of making demands.
Since the violence or crisis broke up, the polity has been restive. Komolate (2009:72) in his contribution about the crisis in Niger Delta region assets:
Deaths are simply counted in dozen and displaced places in thousand news papers are awah with photographs of helpless children, old men and women who have been displaced. These defencess folks are fleeing the sports where solders are bathing it out with militants.
The assertion above illustrates the looming danger about the security of people of Niger Delta. What the youths claim is to struggle for emancipation of their people has turned to be criminal activities range from kidnapping of expatrate workers. School children, parents to political office holders and canalization of pipelines.
As a matter of fact life in Niger Delta is really becoming unbearable as the means of livelihood dimished by the passage of time. The indigene of this region particularly Ogonis, Ijaws, Ibibios etc have protested and still protesting against their deplorable condition of living.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The high rate of crime in the Niger Delta region cannot be over emphasized such that lives and properties are being lost everyday. people are kidnapped and ransom demanded before release. In most cases, people kidnapped by hostile youths of Niger Delta are killed, if ransom is not paid. This resultant effect is that companies now prefer to shut down and leave for other countries, thereby throwing some Nigeria out of job.
Again, the hostilities in this geo-political region of the country has led to school drop outs. Most youths now prefer to join any group that specializes on kidnapping and therefore make wealth.
Insecurity also abound as a result of the Niger Delta crisis. People now live in fear because of the presence of many militia groups who are conscious of making fast money through hostility irrespective of the amnesty granted to the militants.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
- To high light the problems of Niger Delta region.
- How the Niger Delta crisis affected the socio-political and economic development of the region and Nigeria in general.
- To measure the extent of damages the crisis has caused in the Niger Delta region.
- To evaluate the impact of this crisis on the economy and its implication in educational system of the region.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
For the purpose of this research work, the following are the questions for research
- What are the factors that influence the Niger Delta Crisis?
- What are the impacts of Niger Delta crisis on education advancement of the region?
- What influence does the Niger Delta crisis have to the standard of living of the people?
- What can be done to improve their condition?
- What are the efforts of the government towards resolving this conflict?
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESIS
Ho: Niger Delta crisis has no effects on socio-political development of Nigeria
Hi: Niger Delta crisis have effects on socio-political development of Nigeria.
Ho: Niger Delta crisis has no effects on standard of living of the people
Hi: Niger Delta crisis has effect on standard of living of the people.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
To both local and foreign investors, the Niger Delta area crisis is becoming increasingly threatening to business and socio-political development of Nigeria due to militancy of pressure groups in the area. But the area is a multinational economic base that attracts attention. This is very significant as it tries to investigate the factors that energize the crisis and seek solution to it.
This research work has provided solution to the problem based on the findings. It also serves as a reference material for students and researchers. In addition, the work is significant to government who may require information contained here for policy implementation.
Finally, the result of the research will help to reduce violence in Niger Delta region.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE SYUDY
The study was limited to South-East and South-South of Nigeria which make up the Niger Delta States and they are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross rivers, Delta, Imo and Rivers state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY