Alienation and Militancy in the Niger Delta: Hostage Taking and the Dilemma of the Nigerian State

  • IS Ibaba


This paper examines the linkages between alienation and militancy in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, and the dilemma the Nigerian State faces in dealing with the menace of hostage taking of oil workers in the region by militant groups. To achieve this objective, the paper critically discusses the centrality of alienation in the seemingly intractable youth violence in the Niger Delta. It demonstrates that alienation, caused by ethnicity based political domination, oil based environmental degradation, corruption and parental neglect has engendered frustration and awareness that explain the conflicts and violence in the area. The paper points out that protests and agitations that were hitherto peaceful degenerated to militancy, violence and hostage taking, due to violent state repression and the militarisation of the Niger Delta. Hostage taking of oil workers, particularly expatriates, now occurs frequently in the Niger Delta, with destructive effects on the country's economy, due to disruptions in oil production. The paper blames this on the character of the State and the resultant dilemma it faces. The Nigerian State is privatised and is therefore used to pursue personal, sectional and ethnic interests, as against the common interests. The inability of the state to choose the pursuance of the public good has undermined its ability to deal with militancy and hostage taking. It has laid the foundations of militancy through a neglect of development, and promotion of political thuggery in the electoral process. The solution hinges on the transformation of the state; to make it address the aspirations of citizens.

African Journal on Conflict Resolution Vol. 8 (2) 2008: pp. 11-34

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eISSN: 1562-6997