The implications of oil theft on social and economic development in the Niger Delta
The emergence of the exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, has awarded the region worldwide renown as the economic backbone of the country, but also as a conflict flashpoint. Drawing from the propositions of the resource curse theory, the paper identifies Nigeria’s rentier state structure as the underlining cause linked to the citing of conflict and corruption, as the reasons for the occurrence of oil theft in the Niger Delta. Also, the Dutch disease is identified as an economic explanation of the resource curse theory, and this is used to identify the economic implications of oil theft in the Niger Delta at the national level. In addition, the rentier state structure is used to identify the social implications of the occurrence of oil theft at the local level in the Niger Delta region. The paper posits that economic implications include reduced revenue, increased unemployment, and diversification of the economy. The social implications also include sustained conflict, curbed social development, and displacement of persons. To combat the illegal practice of oil theft, it is recommended that transparency and accountability should be adhered to in the relations among government, oil-producing communities and multinational corporations.
Keywords: Niger Delta, oil theft, resource curse, sustainable development, security and conflict