|Title||NWO OIL CORRUPTION destroying Niger Delta|
|Date released (year)||2013|
|Keywords/tags||Governance, corruption, natural resources, oil, civil war, violence|
|Link to film||http://youtu.be/SJJmMOPT6Kg
|Synopsis||A Nigerian activist says that corruption is so pervasive in Niger Delta that its politicians have stopped governing and only help in the rape of its resources.
Mother of Nigeria’s finance minister was kidnapped this week amid reports of millions of dollars being looted from Nigeria’s treasury. Also there has been a recent spate of killings in the oil rich Delta State. Press TV has interviewed Ms. Alice Ukoko, Founder of Women of Africa, London about this issue.
Conflict in the Niger Delta
The current conflict in the Niger Delta arose in the early 1990s over tensions between the foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta‘s minority ethnic groups who felt they were being exploited, particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw. Ethnic and political unrest has continued throughout the 1990s and persists as of 2007 despite the conversion to democracy and the election of the Obasanjo government in 1999. Competition for oil wealth has fueled violence between many ethnic groups, causing the militarization of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia groups as well as Nigerian military and police forces (notably the Nigerian Mobile Police). Victims of crimes are fearful of seeking justice for crimes committed against them because of growing “impunity from prosecution for individuals responsible for serious human rights abuses, [which] has created a devastating cycle of increasing conflict and violence”. The regional and ethnic conflicts are so numerous that fully detailing each is impossible and impractical. However, there have been a number of major confrontations that deserve elaboration.
Nigeria, after nearly four decades of oil production, had by the early 1980s become almost completely dependent on petroleum extraction economically, generating 25% of its GDP (this has since risen to 60% as of 2008). Despite the vast wealth created by petroleum, the benefits have been slow to trickle down to the majority of the population, who since the 1960s have increasingly been forced to abandon their traditional agricultural practices. Annual production of both cash and food crops dropped significantly in the latter decades of 20th century, cocoa production dropped by 43% (Nigeria was the world’s largest cocoa exporter in 1960), rubber dropped by 29%, cotton by 65%, and groundnuts by 64%. In spite of the large number of skilled, well-paid Nigerians who have been employed by the oil corporations, the majority of Nigerians and most especially the people of the Niger Delta states and the far north have become poorer since the 1960s.
The Delta region has a steadily growing population estimated to be over 30 million people as of 2005, accounting for more than 23% of Nigeria’s total population. The population density is also among the highest in the world with 265 people per kilometre-squared (reference NDDC). This population is expanding at a rapid 3% per year and the oil capital, Port Harcourt, along with other large towns are growing quickly. Poverty and urbanization in Nigeria are on the rise, and official corruption is considered a fact of life. The resultant scenario is one in which there is urbanization but no accompanying economic growth to provide jobs. This has led to a section of the growing populace assisting in destroying the ecosystem that they require to sustain themselves.
The case of Ogoniland (1992–1995)
Ogoniland is a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) region in the southeast of the Niger Delta basin. Economically viable petroleum was discovered in Ogoniland in 1957, just one year after the discovery of Nigeria’s first commercial petroleum deposit, with Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron Corporation setting up shop throughout the next two decades. The Ogoni people, a minority ethnic group of about half a million people who call Ogoniland home, and other ethnic groups in the region attest that during this time, the government began forcing them to abandon their land to oil companies without consultation, and offering negligible compensation. This is further supported by a 1979 constitutional addition which afforded the federal government full ownership and rights to all Nigerian territory and also decided that all compensation for land would “be based on the value of the crops on the land at the time of its acquisition, not on the value of the land itself.” The Nigerian government could now distribute the land to oil companies as it deemed fit.
The 1970s and 1980s saw the government’s empty promises of benefits for the Niger Delta peoples fall through, with the Ogoni growing increasing dissatisfied and their environmental, social, and economic apparatus rapidly deteriorating. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was formed in 1992. MOSOP, spearheaded by Ogoni playwright and author Ken Saro-Wiwa, became the major campaigning organization representing the Ogoni people in their struggle for ethnic and environmental rights. Its primary targets, and at times adversaries, have been the Nigerian government and Royal Dutch Shell.
Beginning in December 1992, the conflict between Ogonis and the oil infrastructure escalated to a level of greater seriousness and intensity on both sides. Both parties began carrying out acts of violence and MOSOP issued an ultimatum to the oil companies (Shell, Chevron, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) which demanded some $10 billion in accumulated royalties, damages and compensation, and “immediate stoppage of environmental degradation”, and negotiations for mutual agreement on all future drilling.
The Ogonis threatened to embark on mass action to disrupt their operation if the companies failed to comply. By this act, the Ogoni shifted the focus of their actions from an unresponsive federal government to the oil companies engaged in their own region. The rationale for this assignment of responsibility were the benefits accrued by the oil companies from extracting the natural wealth of the Ogoni homeland, and neglect from central government.
The government responded by banning public gatherings and declaring that disturbances of oil production were acts of treason. Oil extraction from the territory had slowed to a trickle of 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d) (.5% of the national total).
Military repression escalated in May 1994. On May 21, soldiers and mobile policemen appeared in most Ogoni villages. On that day, four Ogoni chiefs (all on the conservative side of a schism within MOSOP over strategy) were brutally murdered. Saro-Wiwa, head of the opposing faction, had been denied entry to Ogoniland on the day of the murders, but he was detained in connection with the killings. The occupying forces, led by Major Paul Okuntimo of Rivers State Internal Security, claimed to be ‘searching for those directly responsible for the killings of the four Ogonis.’ However, witnesses say that they engaged in terror operations against the general Ogoni population. Amnesty International characterized the policy as deliberate terrorism. By mid-June, the security forces had razed 30 villages, detained 600 people and killed at least 40. This figure eventually rose to 2,000 civilian deaths and the displacement of around 100,000 internal refugees.
In May 1994, nine activists from the movement who would become known as ‘The Ogoni Nine’, among them Ken Saro-Wiwa, were arrested and accused of incitement to murder following the deaths of four Ogoni elders. Saro-Wiwa and his comrades denied the charges, but were imprisoned for over a year before being found guilty and sentenced to death by a specially convened tribunal, hand-selected by General Sani Abacha, on 10 November 1995. The activists were denied due process and upon being found guilty, were hanged by the Nigerian state.
The executions were met with an immediate international response. The trial was widely criticised by human rights organisations and the governments of other states, who condemned the Nigerian government’s long history of detaining their critics, mainly pro-democracy and other political activists. The Commonwealth of Nations, which had also plead for clemency, suspended Nigeria’s membership in response. The United States, the United Kingdom, and the EU all implemented sanctions, but not on petroleum (Nigeria’s main export).
Shell claims it asked the Nigerian government for clemency towards those found guilty, but its request was refused. However, a 2001 Greenpeace report found that “two witnesses that accused them [Saro-Wiwa and the other activists] later admitted that Shell and the military had bribed them with promises of money and jobs at Shell. Shell admitted having given money to the Nigerian military, who brutally tried to silence the voices which claimed justice”.
As of 2006, the situation in Ogoniland has eased significantly, assisted by the transition to democratic rule in 1999. However, no attempts have been made by the government or an international body to bring about justice by investigating and prosecuting those involved in the violence and property destruction that have occurred in Ogoniland, although a class action lawsuit has been brought against Shell by individual plaintiffs in the US.
|Links to other resources||http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ad/article/view/57152
Watts, M. (ed) (2008) Curse of the black gold: 50 years of oil in the Niger Delta. New York: Powerhouse.
Academic discussion: http://www.followthethings.com/curseoftheblackgold.shtml
Also see The Curse of Black Gold: https://ejoltdocumentaries.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/the-curse-of-black-gold/