EXAMINING THE NIGER DELTA CRISES AND ITS NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS (A CASE STUDY APPRAISAL OF THE AMNESTY PROGRAM)
The Niger Delta – the geographical heart of oil production in Nigeria has been a breeding ground for militants for some years now. This is because the discovery of oil and its exploitation has ushered in a miserable, undisciplined, decrepit, and corrupt form of ‘petro-capitalism’ which produces conflict accelerating factors. Devastated by the ecological costs of oil spillage and underdevelopment, the Niger Delta has become a centre of violence. In an attempt to solve the Niger Delta crises, the Federal Government recently introduced the policy of amnesty to militants as the solution to the Niger Delta Crises. The study assessed the Amnesty Programme which is basically a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) to the Niger Delta militants and effect on national security. Utilizing the theory of the post-colonial state, the study argued that the amnesty programme to the Niger Delta militants was basically oriented towards enhancing the security situation in the Niger Delta region for the purpose of increasing crude oil production. Employing qualitative method and relying on secondary sources, relevant data were generated and analyzed using the qualitative descriptive method. The study therefore contended that there was nexus between the Amnesty Programme to the Niger Delta militants and increased in crude oil production in Nigeria. Arising from these therefore, it is our recommendation that the federal government should urgently and comprehensively tackle the underlying economic and social problems of the Niger Delta region so as to prevent a relapse into crises.
Prior to the advent of commercial oil production in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 1958, the region was essentially a pristine environment which supported substantial subsistence resources for the mostly sedentary population. The region accounted for a large percentage of Nigeria’s commercial fisheries industry (Afinotan, 2009). For centuries therefore, the people of the Niger Delta were content to engage in farming, fishing and such other endeavours like pottery, mat-making and hunting, unaware that underneath their soil was one of nature’s most prized mineral resources.
Crude oil was discovered in the Niger Delta over fifty years ago, with the discovery of oil in Oloibiri in 1956 by Shell Petroleum Development Company (Aaron and George, 2010). Since, oil has become the main stay of the Nigerian Economy, contributing over 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings of the government, it is surprising that the trajectory of constitutional development, socio-economic development and class formation have been massively influenced and dictated by the politics of oil (Owugah, 1999). While the Nigerian State may see the availability of the crude resources as a ‘Blessing’ and a source of pre-eminence in the global market place, the communities where this crude resource is endowed with, see it as a ‘Curse’.
This is because the massive exploitation of crude oil creates serious developmental, social and environmental problems which the Nigerian state and the collaborative oil giants have neglected for a long time (Omotola, 2006). Lamenting about this state of affairs, Owugah (1999:106) observes that “The oil which brought so much wealth to the nation and those in power, brought much poverty, disease, death, loss of livelihood, to the people of the oil bearing areas”.
With the emergence of a pan-Niger Delta militia group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in 2006, the struggle for local control of Nigeria’s oil assumed a more violent dimension. Apart from MEND that appears to have clearly articulated grievances namely Environmental Insecurity and Socio-Economic Marginalization of the Niger Delta people, sundry groups emerged in the Niger Delta as well. Some of these groups, it would appear, were driven not by liberation ideology but crime and criminality. Independently the activities of these groups created a difficult security challenge in Nigeria’s oil belt (Aaron, 2010).
Oil installations were attacked and oil workers particularly expatriate staffs, at any rate, initially, were taken hostage for ransom. All these were happening, in spite of the heavy presence of the Joint Task Force (JTF), comprising of the Navy, Army and Air force, who were sometimes over ran by the superior fire power of the militants (Aaron, 2010). The implications of this parlous security were grave. Oil production figures plummeted to all time low, as many TNCs announced production shut-ins. Specifically, average production figure for 2009 was around 1.6million barrels per day(bpd), down from 2.7milllion bpd(NNPC,2009). The country lost an estimated $92 billion in oil export earnings to production shut-in and crude oil theft associated with the activities of militants (Davis, 2009). The cumulative effect of this was a drastic fall in the country’s oil exports. Consequently, public finance was subjected to one of the worst crises since independence.
In what appears an admission of the futility of violent response, late President Umaru Yar’Adua, on 25th June, 2009, announced an amnesty for militants who were willing to surrender their arms. The amnesty programme was in phases: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) Aaron (2010). Disarmament of militants entailed the physical removal of the means of combat from ex belligerents (weapons, ammunition). Demobilization is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed groups, followed by processing of individual combatants in temporary centres with provision of support packages. Reintegration entails the process of reintegrating former combatants/militants into civil society ensuring against the possibility of a resurgence of armed conflict (Nwachukwu and Pepple, 2011).
The first phase lasted between 6th August and 4th October 2009 (Newswatch, November 9, 2009). The amnesty programme has been hailed by many as successful given the quantity of arms surrendered by the militants. Five years after the proclamation of the amnesty and implementation of the major components of the programme by Goodluck Jonathan’s administration following the demise of President Musa Yar’Adua. This study sets out to explore the nexus between the Amnesty programme granted the Niger Delta militants and National Security. However, the study will investigate the effect of disarmament of the militants on crude oil production in Nigeria on one hand, and the effect of demobilization and reintegration of militants on kidnapping and oil pipeline vandalization on the other hand.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The deployment of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) to restore order and create a conducive atmosphere to do business could not tame the militants. However, no State relies exclusively on the use of violence or force to ensure social order. It resorts to non-violent strategies as well, especially, when it comes under intense pressure from the people which threaten the interest of its survival. At such times, the state makes what Parenti (1974:274) terms “symbolic concession” to pacify the people. Thus, confronted with persistently intense agitation from the communities, the Nigerian State, in response, adopted the strategy of symbolic concessions. The State, thus, raised the percentage on derivation of the oil producing states from 1.5% to 3% and later 13% (Owugah, 2010). It is also within this context that the setting up of series of development commissions for the Niger Delta should be understood. The commissions started with the Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) in 1960 followed by the Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority (NDRBA) in 1976, then the Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) in 1992. Ibeanu (2002:31) argues that “OMPADEC became, in the popular consciousness of people of Niger Delta, another ruse designed to enrich the families and friends of the military government while pretending to be investing in the Niger Delta”. The failure of OMPADEC to achieve its desired expectations coupled with the intensity of Ijaw ethnic struggles led to the establishment of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000. The NDDC, like its predecessors, failed to record significant improvement in the welfare of the Niger Delta people because it gave room to financial misappropriation and profligacy (Omotola, 2007). Owugah (2010:194) argues “Therefore, by establishing these agencies, it pacifies some members of the communities and also gains the support of others in the non-oil producing areas. Secondly, it provides an avenue for patronage to members of its hegemonic class with the awards of contracts, consultancies and supplies of materials for the projects. These projects became another money-making source for members of the ruling class. For one thing, they were fully paid for contracts, even though the projects were not undertaken, abandoned or uncompleted. The Niger Delta landscape is littered with such projects. Yet, no one has ever been asked to refund any amount or prosecuted in the law courts”. When Late Musa YarAdua assumed office as the nation’s president, he came up with his own idea of developing the Niger Delta, which he tagged “Niger Delta Development Plan”. Nothing has been done in this regard. He also set up the Ministry of Niger delta Affairs. Again, on 25 June 2009 he granted amnesty to the “militants” via Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) to turn in their weapons within sixty (60) days (Aaron, 2010). In addition, they militants were to renounce violence through the execution of renunciation of militancy form. The repentant militants were to be paid the sum of N65, 000(about $430) per month for 42 months that the rehabilitation programme would cover. This is addition to daily feeding allowance of N1500 (about $10). Beyond disarmament, repentant militants are to undergo some form of skills acquisition to enable them live economically productive lives (Aaron, 2010).
The leaders of the militants, including Ekpemupolo( Tompolo), Henry Okah, Asari Dokubo, Fara Dagogo, Ebi Ben, Ateke Tom, Saboma Jackrich (alias Egberipapa), gave up their weapons. Tompolo and his group gave “117 assorted rifles, 5,467 rounds of live ammunitions, 20 camouflage bullet jacket, 26 camouflage uniform and two helmets. By official account, about
26,356 militants surrendered their arms at various disarmament centres. On the whole the total of 26,760 guns of different types 287,445 rounds of ammunition, 18 gun boats and 1090 dynamites were surrendered” (Omadjohwoefe, 2011:254).
The Amnesty programme granted to the militants of Niger Delta has drawn the attention of writers. Omadjohwoefe (2011), Ibaba (2011), and Egwemi (2010) argued that, the amnesty initiative, though a unique approach, does not have what it takes to answer the Niger Delta question. Olatoke and Olokooba (2012) argued that the amnesty programme is yet to be passed into law and as such unconstitutional. Smoke (2009) opined that managers of the Nigerian system should develop strategies to deal with the post amnesty challenges and that all stakeholders need to be involved in actualizing the implementation of the post amnesty programme. Aluede (2012) argued thatthe way the programme has been implemented to cost several billion naira to benefit a few people who have committed crimes against the state is wrong.
The efforts of scholars thus, appear to neglect the effect of the disarmament of the militants on crude oil production in Nigeria. It is, therefore, this gap among others in the literature that this study is aimed at filling based on the following research questions:
1. Did the Disarmament of Niger Delta militants increase crude oil production in Nigeria?
2. Did the Demobilization of Niger Delta militants reduce kidnapping in the Niger Delta region?
3. Did the Reintegration of Niger Delta militants fail to reduce oil pipeline vandalization?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The central objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of the amnesty programme granted to the Niger Delta militants and effects on national security in Nigeria. This research tends to explore the nexus between the amnesty programme via Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration granted to the Niger Delta militants and national security.
However, the study is set to achieve the understated specific objectives:
1. To determine whether the Disarmament of Niger Delta militants increased crude oil production in Nigeria.
2. To determine whether the Demobilization of Niger Delta militants reduced kidnapping in the Niger Delta region.
3. To ascertain whether the Reintegration of Niger Delta militants failed to reduce oil pipeline vandalization.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The research has both Theoretical and Practical significance.
Theoretically, this study will contribute to the scholarly debate on the amnesty programme granted to the Niger Delta militants and effects on national security in Nigeria. This study explores the amnesty programme whose dynamics either impacts or transforms the lives of the people of the Niger delta region in Nigeria. It will also investigate the amnesty programme as panaceas for peace in the Niger delta region.
Practically, the outcome of this study will be instrumental to socio-economic and political development of the Niger Delta in particular and the Nigerian state in general, it will help the policy makers to reposition, complement or change the strategies and methods of intervention in the Niger Delta so as to achieve maximum results. Finally, if the study succeeds in clarifying issues and facilitating understanding, it will enrich the pool of literature on the Niger Delta to the benefit of researchers and students.
This section reviewed relevant literature related to the key research question of this paper, with a view to clarifying the gap in knowledge that this study seeks to fill.
Did the Disarmament of Niger Delta militants increase crude oil production in Nigeria?
Timiebi Koripamo-Agary (cited in Business Day, 2009) media coordinator of the amnesty committee described the exercise as successful. She said the number of militants that accepted the amnesty offer were so many that the committee’s capacity was pushed to the limits. Accordingly, with the cooperation of all, including the military, security agencies, the militants, media, the commitment of amnesty officials and Nigerians, the country was able to successfully implement the programme. The huge quantity, quality and sophistication of the arms recovered under the amnesty programme shows that the Niger Delta and Nigeria is a safer place now. It is a huge relief that these weapons have been moved out of the region. With peace returning to the Niger Delta, the youths, the people and security forces will no longer lose their lives in needless conflicts, communities will be peaceful, children can return to school without disruption and the process of rebuilding and development can begin. It is a win-win situation for all (Business Day, 2009).
Swartz (2009) wrote that a high-profile government amnesty program aimed at stopping militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta region from bombing pipelines are coming under fire for not seeking permanent solutions to the area's underlying problems. The amnesty program, scheduled to begin Thursday and run two months, is the biggest public effort yet by President Umaru Yar'Adua to ease the unrest in the Niger Delta that has cost the country billions of dollars in lost oil revenue. But Nigerian state governors, analysts, and the militants themselves have criticized the plan because it does little to address the core causes of the militancy and criminality that have plagued the Niger Delta for decades, such as the lack of education, jobs and basic services. State governors from the Niger Delta region, a powerful group but rarely in agreement, last week threatened to withdraw from the amnesty program because it lacked a definite post amnesty plan arrangement for the region..