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Local Tribes Call for Benefit-Sharing and Reduction of Environmental Damage
The social stability of Nigeria, one of the most populous countries in the world and the largest in the world, is the world's largest Economics of Africa, is of international concern because of its potential impact on continental and global security. Hence, a local conflict such as the one between the tribes of the Niger Delta and the Nigerian government, as a result of the exploitation of the abundant oil of the area, be followed closely from the outside.
▲The area of light at the bottom of the satellite image corresponds to the oil facilities of the Niger Delta [NASA]
article / Baltasar Martos
The fierce dispute over energy resources at the mouth of the Niger River in southern Nigeria has been one of Africa's most high-profile conflicts for decades. The marginalization, confinement, and impoverishment of the Ogoni and Ijaw – the name given to the ethnic tribes in the coastal provinces of Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta – have contributed to an escalation of tension between locals and the federal government.
In order to understand the underlying problem, it is first necessary to take a brief look back in time and discern the three chronological stages that have shaped the current panorama of the conflict, namely: the beginning of oil exploitation, the hegemony of Royal Dutch Shell and the post-independence period.
In 1903, in the southern coastal region of present-day Nigeria, which became a British protectorate (1901) and later a colony (1914), a large deposit of minerals and hydrocarbons, such as coal, bitumen, oil and natural gas, was discovered. The British company Nigeria Properties Ltd. then began oil exploration and extraction, reaching a production of 2,000 barrels per day in 1905. Later, in 1937, and after the succession of several oil companies, the Anglo-Dutch multinational Royal Dutch Shell acquired a monopoly on the exploration of oil sources – and, to a lesser extent, other hydrocarbons – reaching a number of fees production of 5,000 barrels per day.
Three decades later, following independence and the official establishment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1960-1963), the military government of Yakubu Gowon embarked on a policy of nationalization and acquisition of foreign firms in the country, forcing them by legal mandate to re-register through joint ventures with state-owned enterprises. In this way, he managed to transform this activity into the main strategic sector for the Economics of the country. In addition, taking into account the entrance Nigeria joined OPEC in 1971, it is not surprising that the federal government currently owns 60% of the capital stake in practically all the oil companies in operation, occupying an important role as a leader in the country. partner majority.
On the contrary, the civilian population in the area has result The big loser. The ethnic minorities most affected by prospecting, extraction and commercialization activities – with the consequent enrichment for some and environmental pollution for others – have been demanding the attention of the government and demanding legislative measures for environmental and social protection for decades .
On the one hand, locals demand "environmental justice," defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "fair treatment and meaningful participation in political decision-making processes about activities that affect the natural environment of all peoples, regardless of race, color, culture... concerning the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."
The Ogoni and Ijaw are peoples dedicated mainly to agriculture and fishing as a means of subsistence, for whom the natural environment is the only and main one source of wealth. They are protesting against the long-standing collusion (since independence) between the government and multinational oil companies, calling them both "expropriators and polluters" and blaming them for the impoverishment of the region and the deplorable state of the rivers that flow through it. They also claim their rights to obtain and use, for their local communities, the corresponding share of the profits derived from the exploitation of energy deposits because they are traditionally located on a large pocket of crude oil .
Corruption, clientelism and the structural weakness of the government, added to its great interest in and dependence on this sector – which has come to be a benefit for the Economics The national increase of up to 55% of GDP in the mid-1990s according to World Data Bank statistics – makes it extremely difficult for the president and his cabinet to agree to address the needs of these communities in the Niger River Delta. The growing protests led to a real conflict, which began in the last decade of the last century, pitting the civilian population against the federal government in collusion with the multinationals. This confrontation has taken two forms, one peaceful and the other violent, and has attracted the media attention of a large part of the international community.
On the other hand, the conflict in the Niger Delta is a clear case of globalization, since oil extraction involves a set of transnational forces, non-state actors and interdependent processes. Fruit of the prolonged status In response to the discontent of the indigenous tribes of the area, two movements have grown in denunciation of profit by a government that barely invests in the development of this region of the country, mired in poverty and poverty. withdrawal, and degraded by the exploitation of its natural resources.
On the one hand, there is the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), created in the wake of protests in the 1990s and used as a model for other civil associations to publicly express their dissatisfaction with the negative impacts of the oil industry on the quality of life of the inhabitants of the area. This organization, started by writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and composed mainly of academics and teachers, peacefully denounces the joint actions of the government and the corporations installed in the area and advocates for the civil human rights of the Ogoni to decent housing conditions, environmental justice and legislation that respects and protects them from environmental threats.
On the other hand, there is the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). It is made up of an amalgam of armed youth groups organized into local resistance militias, whose goal The main one is to fight for control of the oil benefits for the ethnic minorities settled in the area. This is a military branch of MOSOP that has already sabotaged oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign factory workers, demanding ransom from the government on several occasions.
The most important thing about both movements is that they have caught the attention of a large number of people. issue local and international non-governmental organizations that have partnered with them and have begun to promote and to make their cause visible to the entire international community. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Niger Delta Human and Environmental Rescue Organization are some of the many organisations that have opened a space for work devoted solely and exclusively to the question of the Niger Delta. They advocate worldwide for the defense of the environmental rights of communities affected by the exploitation of resources and the pollution of the natural environment. They have also been able to partner with transnational media and human rights networks to spread the status from conflict to a global audience.
The joint denunciation of the "alleged violations of human and environmental rights against the members of the Ogoni ethnic group of the Niger Delta" has resonated worldwide and has obtained a significant sum of economic aid aimed at the re-establishment of the settlements from which the indigenous peoples had been displaced, as well as the promotion of environmental justice. the protection and guarantee of the civil rights of locals to take advantage of the natural wealth of their area, the continuation of their economic activities and the safeguarding of their environment. The global impact of this conflict is likely to have an impact on how similar conflicts are resolved.
 Obi, Cyril. "Insights from the Niger Delta", Young, Tom. Readings in the International Relations of Africa. Indiana University Press, 2016.
 Botchway, Francis N., ed. Natural Resource Investment and Africa's Development. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2011.