Ijaw Agitation So Far

by Carl Collins Ogunshola Oshodi

By historical antecedence, the Ijaw nation is the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria, and the majority ethnic group in Niger Delta. Ontologically, the Niger Delta crisis is essentially, among others, a governance of crisis, for almost six decades the Ijaw amongst other ethnic group in the region has mobilized within themselves to seek redress to one of the world’s highest level of marginalization and barbarity perpetuated against them by the incursion of the nature of relations of the Nigerian state with oil and underdevelopment precedence, and the multinational oil companies’ presence in the region. This is indeed a crisis of state and corporate governance. The situation of the Ijaw agitation before now has raised question about the nature of corporate governance, and apriori relationship with several host oil-bearing communities.

The Niger Delta is situated on the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of central Africa. During the Tertiary it was built out into the Atlantic Ocean at the mouth of the Niger-Benue river system, an area of catchment that encompasses more than a million square kilometers of predominantly savannah-covered lowlands. The delta is one of the world’s largest, with the sub aerial portion covering about 75,000 km2 and extending more than 300 km from apex to mouth. The regressive wedge of caustic sediments which it comprises is thought to reach a maximum thickness of about 12 km. The Niger Delta forms one of the world’s major hydrocarbon provinces, with proven ultimate recoverable reserves of approximately 35 billion barrels of oil and an under-evaluated, but vast gas resource base. The oil and gas resources are closely associated and are present throughout the delta. Geochemically, they appear to belong to one family, although heavier bacterially degraded oils are found at shallow depths, where the formation temperature is below 80° C. (Lanre, A 2006)

In conflict management index pattern, oil has contributed to more than 76% of the revenue earnings and finances for the development of the country, living agriculture, tourism etc, to 24% earning in whatever estimate it may be represented by GNP, GDP and other variable factors in the country’s national index. By calculation it is glaring that were 349 Drilling sites, 22 flow station and one (1) terminal in the early 1990s (World Bank 1995) and about 10,000km of pipelines, 10 gas plants, 3 oil terminals and 1,500 oil producing wells by the mid 1990s (Egbogre 1999). As at this year (2009), there are over 700 oil fields, 5,320 on/offshore oil wells, 10 export terminals, 279 flow stations including blown-up ones; 4 refineries and an LNG projects. The Niger Delta has crude oil (with a proven reserve of 17.8 x 106 barrels) and natural gas reserve of 2.5 x 102 m3 in the early days of 1990s. Crude oil reserves as at 2001 was 31 billion barrels estimated (Lubeck, watts and Lipschutz 2007:5).

With the above calculation, it is known that with deprivation and its attendant vices, prosperity have failed to surface in the region. Oil has not brought a better living condition and government attention and development master plan for the area. Rather it has been accompanied by incessant instability, insecurity, conflict, violence, crime and social tension. Since the amnesty initiative by the present administration of Mr. President Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua is allegedly a proposed hope of peace in the Niger Delta region, mostly of Ijaw oil Producing communities of Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers and Ondo, the Egbema/Ndoni/Ogba communities, and the Ogoni/Afam/Eleme Communities respectively. The government, stakeholders and Multinational oil communities has failed to attend to the agitation pressed forward by the people of the region, the Ijaw, Ogoni, Isoko, Urhobos, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni communities in this case. The past and present agitation by the communities on issues of as flaring and its environmental effects to plants and our people’s means of livelihood is of great concern to ours and several other communities.

Unfortunately, the unholy Gas Flaring in the area coupled with other bio-degradation and other environmental hazards of pollution carried out by Multinational Oil corporation, while defiling international standard of greenhouse protection laws is amongst several other things is what has been legally pursued by host communities in the past through several ethnic and non-ethnic based mandated groups in the Nigeria Courts. At different instances with the undemocratic nature of jurisprudence of corporate governance in Nigeria, some of the petitions/suit brought to the court by the several mandated communities groups and other several civil liberty, civil right organizations. Issues rising from oil spillage, Gas flaring, Improper Decommission, remediation, reclamation and other ethical standards to be followed.

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