n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - From defiance to engagement : an evaluation of Shell's approach to conflict resolution in the Niger Delta

Volume 10, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In the course of the lengthy era of military rule in Nigeria, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (Shell) enjoyed robust protection from the State, a scenario that largely left the unrelenting demands of the Niger Delta peoples unheeded. Over the last decade, however, Shell has gradually become responsive to the inevitable need of getting involved in State and non-State initiatives for finding sustainable peace in the Niger Delta region. At formal and informal levels, these initiatives are becoming evident although challenges remain. This essay proceeds from the premise that the Niger Delta conflict is not interminable. Extrapolating from the various efforts made by Shell towards resolving its conflicts with the peoples of the Niger Delta, this essay accentuates some of the missing links between top-down efforts and bottom-up initiatives in building sustainable peace in the region. Drawing from learned experiences of Shell's successes and failures as well as of Nigeria's power relations and institutional architecture, this essay contends that while compensatory gestures could play a major role in the resolution of conflicts, that approach alone cannot guarantee conflict resolution and reconciliation in the Niger Delta. The overarching outcome of this evaluation is an attempt at identifying the entry points of concerted conflict resolution strategies, with practical focus on the short-, medium- and long-term attainment of peace.

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