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  • Posted by: Imoh Robert

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  • IIED, UK & SAOS Land tenure and resource access in West Africa 1998-2000
  • FREDRICH EBERT FOUNDATION-Research on SALW in the Niger delta, 2005.
  • OXFARM UK/IHRHL-Research on the effects of Extractive Activities on women in the Niger delta, 2008,
  • SPDC, Port Harcourt-Social Impact Assessment of Integrated Oil and Gas Project |OGP(Gbaran/Ubie),2003 –
  • SPDC, PH-Conflict Resolution Training of youth leaders within SPDC EAST OPERATION
  • USAID-TRI and PIND-Leadership and Management Training for Rivers State CLGAs LEAD, 2014
  • AAPW-Research on NON STATE ARMED GROUPS in the Niger delta
  • SFCG-Rivers State Peace Architectural Dialogue…, Program Resource Person, 2019.
  • SFCG Study on violent conflicts in emerging cities in Nigeria, 2021 (on going).


| am highly delighted to be a guest speaker at this auspicious occasion. The theme, topic and timing of the meeting are appropriate, especially now that the Niger delta  under siege from oil theft and artisanal refining {KPO FIRE} business. I believe this audience is aware of the environmental destruction caused by operational recklessness, criminality and conflicts, and the larger implications on global energy supply, also loss of oil revenue on which the Nigerian state and government depend on to run national economy and social development. The convocation of editors’ conference to thinker on the crises in the Niger delta is in line with the philosophy of international reportage on conflict situations; to deepen knowledge, create understanding, and develop skills, and analytical tools that editors can channel into your journalism.

Editor’s conference on conflict and insecurity similar to this event has held in other conflict regions which were sponsored and supported by international organizations. Good examples are Regional Editors Conference for South East Asia(2013) sponsored by International Red Cross entitled ‘Violence and Media Reporting: Media Debates its Role); Free International Editors Conference entitled ‘Conflict Reporting in the 21st Century hosted by Birkbeck University on 8th February 2020; New York Media International conference entitled ‘The Role of Media in Conflict Region, 2003. Premium times centre for investigative journalism (PTCIJ) Abuja is another resource for promoting media governance on building the capacity of journalist and editors to provide quality media coverage of conflict issues on human rights. These editors’ conferences by their objectives and themes have over the years brought together leading war correspondents, reporters and editors to discuss challenges, issues and what practitioners need to know to enhance the quality and accuracy of contemporary reportage on armed violence. I am inclined to believe that the organizers recognized the need for international outlook to media coverage of the Niger delta crises; hence I commend your good selves, while I attempt my intervention based on an international slogan



I think ,it is very adequate to present an international perspective of oil that encompasses consumption and geopolitics, to highlight a global fight for the control of petroleum. Permit me to raise discourse excerpts and quotes, to provoke our thinking on the subject matter.

  • “Oil Is Valuable because there is a high demand for its many uses. That is why it is called the Black Gold {Mona Chiang, 2010},
  • “Supporting stability; Fuelling Prosperity” {Motto of OPEC}. The organization’s policy decision in years ahead will continue to be aimed at creating harmony and stability in the international oil market for the benefit of the producers, the consumers, the investors and the sovereign interest of member countries; in security, steady income for their peoples, as well as ensuring efficient and regular supplies of petroleum to other countries” {Secretary General, 2001}, “No other element has shaped the history of the past 100 years so much as the fight to secure and control the world’s reserve for petroleum’( William Engdahl “A Century of War 1992),
  • “The government may change faces from time to time, but it is not like we fight wars for democracy.., we fight wars for capitalism and oil”(Woody Harrelson).
  • “Modern wars are about; hegemony, money and oil’(Dustin Hoffman),
  • “Changes brought about by globalization and even the price of oil have thrown the nation’s economic health into question” (Roger Mahony),
  • “The war and terrorism in the middle east, the crisis of leadership in many of the oil supply countries in the developing world.., the crisis of global warming.., all these are very clearly tied to OIL energy” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus’)
  • “To fight war, We must have oil in our Machine’(Adolf Hitler),
  • “| am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows. The Iraq war is largely about oil” (Allan Greenspan),
  • “The present oil crisis has not been produced by the oil companies. It is a result of government mismanagement, exacerbated by the Mideast war’ {Milton Friedman).
  • “lt is absolutely clear that any rejection of Russian Oil would lead to drastic consequences for global energy market’( Alexander Novak; Deputy Prime Minister of Russia)
  • “Russia Ukraine war has caused a surge in Global energy crises in terms of disruptions in supply and increase in price. The prices there {for energy needs in EU countries} are growing.., but not through our fault but their miscalculation. The same applies to the surge in price of ot! and petroleum products in the US.., they announced that they were closing the import of Russian oil to the American market.., instead prices there are high, inflation is unprededently high, probably reached all time high. They are trying to shift blame for the results of their own mistake on us”{ Vladimir Putin, President of the Federal Republic of Russia, April, 2022},
  • “The largest US trading partner in SSA, Petroleum rich Nigeria exports half of its daily oil production to USA. Like many African nations rich with natural resources coveted by the world’s superpowers, the country has been shaped by foreign investment and intervention as small villages face off with giant international oil corporations. We now have a region which grows ever more wild and lawless by the day as its petroleum pumps through world cities’( Michael Peel, A Swamp Full of Dollars, 2009),
  • “The general problems we have identified in the Niger delta come from environmental degradation and poverty. In spite of the vast earnings from the region’s oil and gas deposit, the Niger delta remains the second poorest region in the country.  70% of people in the area live below poverty line, and poverty level in the area is well below Africa’s standard. The Federal government and international oil companies operating in the area have failed to take appropriate action to check the rampant environmental abuse prevalent in the Niger delta. Over two million youths are unemployed and they have lost hope, faith and dignity in life. An urgent need exist to implement mechanisms to protect.
  • the life and health of the region’s inhabitants, and its ecological system from further deterioration”[UNDP, 2012]
  • We (SPDC and other lOCs) are muddling through in Nigeria, against better judgment. We have not made serious efforts to avoid or clean up oil spills nor have we recognized the sufferings of local population. We have reduced gas flaring in other countries, but again in the Niger delta we did not make serious efforts to end this menace. Finally we ignored our contribution to corruption and conflict in the Niger delta” { Mutiu Sumonu, former Managing Director, SPDC; Annual report,

2010}. .

  •  “Geopolitical rivalry over access to oil has been the source of much of the conflicts in the 21%h century”( Chatham House;, 2919/08)
  •  “It is a sad fact of life that many of the world’s leading oil producing countries are either politically unstable and/or at serious odds with US. Most of these countries are members of OPEC”{www, 2019/08}

These quotes as scholarly excerpts and policy statements illustrate that oil conflict in the Niger delta and else are matters for international discourse. Michael Peel (2009) vividly reported and eloquently unveiled the hitherto hidden truth on the connection between international and western energy politics and the breakdown of the Nigeria state. He posited even by way of advice to the US arguments to show that if the Middle East is the precarious eastern battle line in an intensified world war for crude oil, the Niger delta has become the tumultuous western front. This confirms the Niger delta as a volatile region and possible theatre of war, hence the justification for editors conference on conflict/war journalism.


Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the fifth largest in OPEC. The discovery and export of petroleum since 1956 has transformed Nigeria’s political economy from an Agro-state to a Petro-state. In addition to oil Nigeria has huge deposit of natural gas, which makes Nigeria a net exporter of gas. Exploration and production activities in Nigeria are carried out by European and US oil companies operating Joint Ventures in which NNPC own 55-60 percent. However more recent contracts with |OCs with respect to offshore fields have been structured as ‘Production Sharing Costs’ in which the country is neither a formal partner nor a shareholder.

According to OGJ (2015) The Niger-Delta region accounts for 98 percent of Nigeria’s oil and Gas production, Nigeria has 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and produces about 2million barrels daily. Nigeria has an estimated 180 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of proved natural reserves by the end of 2015, making Nigeria the ninth-Largest natural gas reserve holder in the world and the largest in Africa. Nigeria produced 1.55 Tcf of dry natural gas in 2014, ranking among the world’s top 30 largest natural gas producers. About 75 percent of the country’s revenue derived from the Niger Delta. Oil and gas production from the Niger Delta has generated an estimated 600 billion dollar since the 1960s.

Corporate Nigeria {2008; 11} confirmed a national perspective of oil when it reported thus:

“The oil industry dominates Nigeria’s economy. The country has the largest reserve in SSA with 36 billion barrels in onshore and offshore holding, and is Africa’s largest producer with a scheduled output of 2.3 million barrels per day. Gas production is estimated at 40million cubic tones as at 2010. Oil and gas account for 95% of foreign exchange, 80% of government revenue and 67% of GDP”. Since 1970s Nigeria has earned huge wealth from oil to the point of petro-nationalism; is the concept that producer countries should control their reserves. Petro- nationalism enabled Nigeria to establish some degree of economic independence on the basis of which some diplomatic accomplishments were recorded. Also some socio-economic growth and infrastructural development can be credited to Nigeria being an oil producing economy. Breaking the monopoly of |OCs who controlled market, price and production by joining OPEC in 1972, nationalization of BP assets in 1979, support for anti apartheid and other African liberation movements, are

examples and success stories of Nigeria’s exercise of positive Petro-nationalism. This was the period when Nigeria pursed an African centered foreign policy (Africa is the centre piece of Nigeria’s foreign policy by (Murtala Mohammed), and Black Consciousness (FESTAC 77), were the peak of Petro-nationalism. Unfortunately Nigeria degenerated into the shithole of petro state, defined as an oil rich country that failed to utilize huge wealth made from petroleum to transform its economy and improve the living standard of its citizens.


In spite of the benefits of petro-nationalism, the Niger delta region is experiencing unspeakable negative consequences that encompass environmental degradation and_ social despoliation into poverty, developmental neglect, political marginalization, social vices and rising insecurity. A phenomenon that is known as Niger Delta Struggle and Conflicts {NDS&C} has festered for many years, up till this moment. It cannot be taken as an exaggeration if we make a categorical statement that the Niger delta has turned to a volatile region typical of the reportage articulate in Ulrich Beck’s book entitled Risk Society, 2006, where people live in two precarious situations of INJUSTICE AND INSECURITY. Therefore, our gathering at this conference has laid credence to the fact because we agree that an embarrassing situation exists, and we are concerned and committed to finding lasting solution, through building capacity for editorial professionalism on NDS&C.

Since 1990s full blown militant insurgency and criminality of different dimensions took over the region causing restiveness and disorder by belligerent groups, At the beginning NDS&C began as simple agitations by youths and communities engaging IOCs, Federal and State governments, using civil disobedience approach of picketing. The focus was on demand for employment, community development and recognition as host communities. There were inter and intra community and ethnic skirmishes over boundary/location of oil facilities, access to benefits like employment, petty contracts, royalties and compensations Notorious conflicts at this period were Nigerian army invasion of Umuechem, Choba and massacre of Odi, inter ethnic conflicts between ljaw, Itshekiri and Urhobo, also the Ogoni pogrom symbolized with State execution of Ken Saro Wiwa.

HRW reportage 1999, vividly described this period thus:

“While the people of the Niger delta have faced the  adverse effect of oil extraction, they have in general also Failed to gain from the oil wealth. The people living in the oil producing communities largely belong to minority ethnic groups other than the three major groups in Nigeria ( Hausa fulani, Yoruba and igbo)..,the Niger delta region which produces all of Nigeria’s two million barrels of crude oil per day, has for some years been the site of major confrontations between the people and the Nigerian government, security forces resulting in extrajudicial  execution, arbitrary detention and draconian restrictions re on freedom to development”.

From 2004 the tempo of insecurity and misery increased. The scope Penne expanded from localized incidences to a region wide movement with a new dimension of piracy and kidnapping of foreign oil workers. The consequences were devastating because it led to reduction in oil production, loss of foreign exchange earnings and revenue, The ensuing loss of oil a revenue worsened underdevelopment and political economy issues; failure in budget implementation, increase in poverty, unemployment, infrastructure dilapidation etc. The federal government responded to this stage by designing and implementing the amnesty program in 2009. While 1OCs resorted to deep sea offshore exploration and production to escape from conflict prone onshore fields. Regional rebellion and criminal activities shifted and became extensively intensive in the rural communities and cities. .

Before the amnesty intervention the region was overwhelmed by uncountable number of belligerent organizations described as Non-state armed groups. Egbesu, Adaka marines, MEND, NDVF, Isungufuro,

Avengers etc that carried out insurgent agitations, violent conflicts and incidents equivalent to militancy and struggle for regional emancipation and demand for resource control, Militant or armed agitations increased during this period because of proliferation of small arms and light weapons {SALWs}. The implication of availability of weapons, is that these insurgent groups and their sponsors recruited uncountable number of youths not for economic and productive employment but for the business of killing in order to pave way for the political elite to engage in illegal bunkering, election rigging.

Most people believe that the amnesty program was successful based on parameter evidences in recovery of arms, number of repentant militants, cessation of attacks on oil facilities and kidnap of foreigner and national oil workers, engement in vocational training and reduction in conflict incidents. Very critical observers argue that the gains of the Amnesty program has been completely reversed with more dangerous criminal activities perpetrated by new conflict actors that bear terrifying nomenclature as cult groups, whose activities and strategies define and depict them as terrorists; Icelanders, Greenlanders, Dewell, Degbam etc. The gambit of these cult groups is to steal, kill and destroy even as they have penetrated rural areas of Niger delta; sacking communities, preventing farmers and fisher folks from traditional occupations and livelihood support system.

As if to add salt to the injury of environmental degradation, the Niger delta has suffered from a deliberate policy of development neglect and docile security management by governments and lOCs. A key player in NDS &C Alhaji Mujahid  Asari-Dokubo while reflecting on the impacts of oil theft, militarization artisanal refining {KPOFIRE} and criminality made bold to posit that:

{WE} having resorted to militancy and ‘Kpo Fire’ have surpassed Shell and other companies’ 50 years of environmental degradation in the Niger delta”.

It is on the background of a poverty stricken, volatile, militarized, criminalized, disorderly, unsafe ecological and geopolitical space, that the need to deepen and strengthen the capacity and competence of media organizations and their echelon of editors, has become a matter of great urgency.


My role at this august conference is to generate a productive discourse on NDS&C that will highlight a framework for strategies and action plans in the form of long term solution to conflicts and sustainable peace building through effective media governance and accurate journalism. The mandate of discourse includes identification of conflict issues, actors, escalators and patterned cycles. May | therefore present to this conference STEVE WORDU’s NIGER DELTA CONFLICT ANALYSIS FRAMEWORK (SWNDCF). The framework is premised on a discourse topic entitled LIVING IN INJUSTICE AND INSECURITY IN THE NIGER DELTA.

SWNDCAF has three components:(1) CONFLICT ANALYSIS,





Building the capacity of editors and journalists is pivotal to generate and disseminate accurate information on NDS&C. The need for media governance and editorial professionalism that is built on skills in investigative journalism, accurate reportage and editorial validation of news is required. May | end this conversation with an advocacy ‘LET THIS CONFERENCE BECOME LIKE A COMPELLING JOURNEY THROUGH THE OIL FIELD CHAOS OF PRESNT DAY NIGERIA (Louis Theoroux ) Conflict Resolution and peace building program in the Niger delta require the collaboration

between media and academia.

Author: Imoh Robert

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