SECURITY & STRATEGIC STUDIES
In the Niger Delta, violence has been the bane of the region, with conflicts occurring intermittently over the past four decades.
The Centre for Security and Strategic Studies aims to provide informed policy advice to government and insight to the public on security and defence matters, specific to the Niger Delta region. Through research fellowships, public lectures, conferences, seminars, workshops and publications, it aims to provide material to stakeholders—both local and international—on the security situation in the region, and its effect on the country.
In Nigeria, the constitution unambiguously spells out as a fundamental objective, directive and principle of state policy that:
“the security and welfare of the people (of Nigeria) shall be the primary purpose of government” (Section 14 (2) (b) Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999).
Nigeria in recent times has witnessed an unparalleled level of insecurity, prompting a huge allocation of the national budget towards Security. Several factors, including a lack of development in the Niger Delta region and a resultant conflict have had a huge negative impact on the Human Security of the people.
The UN Human Development report sees human security from two different perspectives:
– Safety from threats such as hunger, disease and repression
– Protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life –
The crisis in the Niger Delta is a problem of the definition of the meanings of security, trust, recognition, the value of life and human dignity of the indigenous peoples, against then backdrop of the real repercussions, internationalised exploitation and localised insecurity.
This conceptual muddle has brought about an impenetrable social disruption of most of the paramount economic activities associated with this oil-producing region.
Most of the conflicts now experienced in the Southern region have been as a result of lack of accountability of community leaders; community leadership tussles and clashes among youths involved in oil bunkering. There have been cases where community leaders embezzled funds meant for community projects leading to clashes between the supporters of such leaders and their opponents. Many youth organisations looked inward and recognised poor distribution of resources as a major problem. To address the problem, the youths have engaged in several vicious attacks against their leaders leading to the death of many elders in the region.
In order to curtail the trend of community conflicts caused by inadequate governance at the community level, the government embarked on initiatives to improve transparency and accountability as well as enhance the governance of the distribution of resources in local communities.
The Niger Delta has a violent history, with conflicts occurring intermittently over the past century. Beginning from the pre-colonial period, the region has witnessed a series of conflicts, which initially had their roots in the protest against injustice, but in recent years have been in the quest for resource control. Conflict resolution efforts were largely unsuccessful until 2009, when amnesty was declared by the Yar’adua/Jonathan administration, bringing about an uneasy peace.
Seven years after the declaration of amnesty, there has been a resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region. Despite claims that it is in response to the government’s anticorruption stance, the new wave of militancy brings the region is once again back to the old days of violence and insecurity, characterised by abductions and vandalism of oil and gas pipelines. Conflict in the region adversely affects the Nigerian economy at a time when the price of crude oil remains low.
Insecurity in the region is compounding an already tense and insecure political climate in the country, further heightened by the use of force by federal troops. The use of force has never been found to be a solution for problems such as those of the Niger Delta and therefore a multilateral non-violent approach is recommended.
A strategic approach to security, conflict management, and Peace is needed; HSD Institute intends to lead the discussion.
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