Spoils politics and environmental struggle in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
The protracted conflict in the Niger Delta communities is currently being diagnosed with a view to understanding the nature of the resource struggle. From the 1980s, the region’s cry of marginalization and exclusion from oil revenue allocation was couched in a wave of environmentalism. Environmental activism had assumed the shape of peaceful community protests against the transnational oil companies and was largely directed at ecological remediation and environmental justice. Environmentalism has now assumed new dimensions both in demands and strategy. The struggle has advanced to a low intensity conflict ostensibly against the state which has resulted in the militarization of the region. Although amnesty has been granted the militants by the federal government since October 2009 as a first step to resolving the conflict, there has been criticism trailing its framing and implementation that did not take into account some historical and socio-political antecedents of conflicts in the region. This paper revisits these and applies the greed and grievance framework to investigate the nature of the conflicts. It examines the pattern of environmentalism and discusses the complex nature of the conflicts against the curtailment of primordial motivations if environmental justice is to be achieved. Contrary to the literature, it demonstrates how grievance may manifest in greed in a mutually reinforcing pattern.
Keywords: Greed, grievance, militancy, environmentalism, Niger Delta, Nigeria