n AFFRIKA Journal of Politics, Economics and Society - 'When the Earth bleeds'
Oil exploitation, deprivation and a recipe for environmental justice in Nigeria

Volume 2, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 1998-4936
  • E-ISSN: 2075-6534


The phenomenon of oil exploitation and the pervasive deprivation in the Nigerian Niger Delta are eloquent demonstrations of the link between environmental problems and social injustice. Conflicts, sometimes of a significant proportion and criminal dimension, have erupted in a bid to protest the observed level of deprivation and poverty. This article examines the relationship between oil exploitation in the Niger-Delta the deprivation and poverty suffered by its people. It adopts a spatio-temporal review of oil resource exploitation in juxtaposition with the quality of life of people in the area. The article is structured to examine the political economy of resource exploitation and utilisation in an oil rich country like Nigeria. It posits that more than anything else, the causes (remote and immediate) of conflicts and strife in Nigeria revolve around what the land contains. This has turned an otherwise peaceful people into communities of violence, causing the Nigerian nation to lose most of its adhesives of cohesion and integration. The article commences with an introduction and the background of Nigeria as containing groups of autonomous people brought together during colonialism through a geographical marriage of inconvenience. This section also examines the country's rich ecological resources. The second section is an overview of environmental resource exploitation and distribution as well as the principles underlying these. The third section examines the phenomena of poverty and deprivation in the country particularly in the oil bearing Niger Delta. Using a welfarist perspective, the article reveals a lopsided resource distribution that suggests an inversion of benefits the higher the level of environmental resource available to a region, thus establishing the inevitability of conflict and violence among the deprived communities. As a way forward, the article canvasses for a shift in the paradigm of resource distribution for the adoption of social and environmental justice. The benefits of this paradigm are overwhelming but the challenge for the country is taming bourgeoning capitalism and its class structure. To achieve social and environmental justice in the Niger Delta, the orientation of leaders and followers must change. This shift is urgently required as the basis of a reconciliatory paradigm for peace and development in Nigeria.

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