Jake Moser E Format 2/5/2011 Nigeria and the Oil Curse Exporting upwards of 2.

3 million bbl per day, Nigeria is Africa¶s largest exporter of oil, and the fifth largest in the World. Yet despite the country¶s massive oil revenues, more than 70 percent of its population is living below the poverty line.1 Nigeria is one of the nations that have fallen into the curious poverty trap of natural resource abundance. Pollution, and civil conflict, all fueled by Nigeria¶s oil and gas industries, have stymied economic growth in Nigeria, yet the country¶s dependence on these very industries for maintaining current economic standing have made it very difficult to break free from this trap. The Niger delta is the home to the bulk of Nigeria¶s vast crude oil and natural gas riches. Despite the abundance of natural resource wealth in this region, the majority of the 31 million residents of the Niger delta are living in poverty and lack adequate access to clean drinking water and health care.2 In addition to being stricken by extreme poverty, the Niger delta has been called by the 2006 World Wildlife Fund ³one of the most polluted places on earth´ averaging roughly two oil spills per day for a period of up to two decades.3 The concentration of oil in this region has also led it to becoming the most violent area in the country, as different gangs and rebel groups fight for control of a portion of the oil industry. Because of the particularly


The World Factbook 2009. Wa sh ing ton , DC: Central In telli gen ce Ag en cy , 2009. h ttp s://www. cia.go v /lib ra ry /pub li ca tio n s/th e-worl d-fa ctboo k/ind ex.h tm 2 Amnesty International, Nigeria: Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta (London, UK: Amnesty International Publications, 2009), 9 3 Liane Hansen, "Documenting the Paradox of Oil, Poverty in Nigeria," National Public Radio, accessed February 4, 2011, last modified June 6, 2008, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92155119.

"Oil Dependence and Civil Conflict in Nigeria. These floods increase the range of the adverse effects of oil spills. 25. 7 Amnesty International.pdfAfrica Voices 133 6 Anwana. or drinking contaminated water.4 About 95 percent of natural forestation in the delta has been lost as a direct result of the oil industry. It has directly impacted and worsened the standard of living of the poor in the delta region in four major ways.8 Prior to oil industry¶s presence. Estimates by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation have put the total cost of environmental damage caused by mismanagement in Nigeria¶s oil extraction industry at roughly $5 billion per year. http://www. the people of the delta relied on the river as a source of relatively clean drinking water.pambazuka. 8 Amnesty International. efficient extraction of oil. 5 Eno Anwana. accessed February 4.Moser 2 intensified conditions in this region." Center for the Study of African Economics (June 2007): 4. 2011. no.7 Firstly it has greatly reduced the ease of access to a supply of clean drinking water.9 Secondly. the pollution has taken away many of the local peoples¶ main source of food. 10. The frequency of oil spills in this region has stripped them of their ability to do so. 9 Amnesty International. forcing the people to rely on more expensive ways of finding clean water. 134. pollution has become a major problem for the people of the Niger delta region. 25.6 The effects of pollution do not stop at the devastation of natural beauty. Fisheries and farms had provided the local people with an inexpensive way to 4 Aderoju Oyefusi.org/en/publications/ africanvoices_chap05.5 This deforestation has only exacerbated the problem of pollution as it has left this wetland landscape even more susceptible to flooding. the effects of the oil industry in the Niger delta will be the primary focus of this paper. With the Nigerian focus being on quick. 167 (July 2004): 133. . "Taking Control of Africa's Resources. giving them a means of transportation throughout the country side." African Voices on Development and Social Justice.

24. Jonah Gbemre. 13 Oyefusi. 26. Finally. oil. and perhaps most importantly. Families in economic hardship are forced to take a chance on drinking contaminated drinking water. or eating oil affected fish as they are in desperate need of nourishment. unemployment is high and average income is actually lower than the national average.10 Thirdly. a local of the delta region. the pollution has caused numerous health complications. In many cases.11 Many of the families of the region relied on farms and/or fisheries as their only form of employment. was quoted as saying to amnesty international. but their source of income. 7. ³Because of oil exploration there are no more fisheries « We experience the hell of hunger and poverty. health complications 10 11 Amnesty International. Amnesty International. 12 Amnesty International. . and because their crops won¶t grow. 33.Moser 3 eat as farmland and fish were two things available in remarkable abundance in the delta. direct pollution of the waterways has killed many species of fish and taken away one of the most abundant and inexpensive sources of protein for the people of the region.13 This is in large part down to the fact that the oil companies¶ negligence has put those who depend on the true natural beauty of the area out of business. Widespread flooding which transports oil spills across the countryside taints farms and renders the food inedible. Plants and animals do not grow well. the fish have died«´12 Many people just like Jonah are out of jobs because there are simply no fish to catch. is almost entirely based in the delta region. In addition. this waterborne pollution caused by the oil companies has stripped tens of thousands of families from the delta of not only their food. Despite the fact that the nation¶s largest industry.

On the national scale there are conflicts between regions of the nation. 35. 16 Paul Collier.15 Also at higher risk is any country that has already had a civil war during its history (Nigeria makes this list) and any country with large co-dominant racial groups (again Nigeria fits the bill). There are conflicts between local communities and the oil companies.14 Perhaps even a bigger issue than pollution in creating a society stuck in poverty is the civil tension and conflict that the oil industry has brought in to Nigeria. Again. Collier and Hoeffler found that 23 percent of states which depend primarily on oil exports have had a civil war within in a five year period. Conflict can be devastating to an economy. The primary reasoning behind regional disputes is the sharing of oil revenues. Oyefusi. . Nigeria as a whole has managed to avoid slipping into another full blown civil war since fighting its first some 40 years ago.16 Despite all of the risk factors.17 With the majority of Nigeria¶s oil supply being located in the delta in the Southwest of the country. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (New York: Oxford University Press.36. however. between larger regions of the country on a national level. 15 17 14 Oyefusi 7. 27. potentially even sending it on a trail to becoming a ³failed´ state. most of the oil revenue tends to stay in that region of Amnesty International. the Niger delta region has been particularly hard hit by resource related violence as it is the hub of the oil industry. 2. as well as between regions of the nation and the Nigerian government. between rebel groups and the oil companies. and they all trace their way back to the same cause«oil. do not think that there is not civil conflict in Nigeria as the oil industry is creating tension and violence on many different levels in Nigeria. 2007). In their research.Moser 4 arise from the lack of access to clean sources of food and water and this only makes the families economic position more strained.

wrote. This is a recipe for civil conflict. Rebel groups have been forming.Moser 5 the country. all of the regions seem to have an argument with the government over how much the government should be doing to help clean up. The main sources tend to be land ownership disputes and compensation for the environmental damage that the oil companies have caused.18 Furthermore this has created tension in the way that the government distributes public goods among the regions. for the most part. Conflicts between the oil companies and the local communities have. the environmental impacts of the oil industry. 7. or compensate for. ³It is assumed that our motivation is derived from a desire to steal little amounts of crude oil from pipelines. 21 Liane Hansen. Disputes have arisen over how much of the delta¶s oil revenues the rest of the state is entitled to receiving.19 The majority of this tension has tended to remain violence free. 20 Oyefusi. 7. feeding off of the frustrations of the locals. is that the truth be heard everywhere about our fight for the freedom of the peoples of the Niger delta who have cried out in vain for help. but it has only furthered the Nigerian view of three very distinct regions to the country. What we are fighting for aside from what we term to be a liberation of the Niger delta peoples from 50 years of political and economic slavery.20 It is in these local communities where the most meaningful and violent conflict is taking rise. Also. meaning that they have managed to stop nearly half of 18 19 Oyefusi. and becoming increasingly more violent in their ways of protest. Oyefusi. this group called MEND has ³shut in´ up to 40 percent of Nigeria¶s oil industry. . 7. Jomo Gbomo. with each worried more about itself than the whole of the country. or by the capturing of hostages. been nonviolent conflicts. In an email. one of the leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).´21 Primarily by way of armed attacks on oil facilities.

"If we spend more money here in America or Europe on oil. The so called ³Dutch Disease´ has nearly mad the former agrarian nature of the Nigerian society extinct. no positive impact. which would tend to suggest that they experienced prosperity throughout that time.23 While in good times the people do not see much of the oil revenues.22 MEND is chasing the goal of the economic liberation of the people of the Niger delta. But they didn¶t. As Ed Kashi. the government is quick to turn to the people. "What it does is just further enriches the power structure. from the government people to the 22 23 Liane Hansen. Liane Hansen.24 A country that relies so heavily on oil exports is very susceptible to the world price of oil. As Paul Collier explains in his book the Bottom Billion. Nigeria has brought in over $600 billion in oil wealth over the past 50 years.´25 In 1986 Nigeria¶s living standard was nearly halved. 25 Collier. co-author of the book Curse of the Black Gold points out." Kashi says.000 bbl per day MEND have temporarily made life worse for the people of the region. Pollution and conflict have severely hampered the country¶s growth rate. Some other oil related factors that have slowed growth in Nigeria are ³Dutch Disease.´ dependence on the world price of oil. Political corruption has certainly played its part as well. because of the lack of a diversified economy and the over-reliance on oil exports. Nigeria¶s reliance on oil has ultimately left it stuck in poverty. when oil revenues begin to dry up. to little oil and repayment. but by reducing the countries oil production by up to 900. 132. ³The swing from big oil and borrowing. 24 Anwana. 41. . After all. it has no impact on the people in the Niger Delta.Moser 6 the country¶s oil production for the time being. and political corruption. approximately halved Nigerian living standards. A country that was once self sufficient now has to rely on expensive food imports to supplement what is no longer grown within its own borders.

but hopefully. and the cost of food and water).Moser 7 chieftain and tribal leaders who all benefit from the rise of the oil prices. the weaning off of oil revenues needs to be a slow process or else the effect on the economy could be just as devastating as a major drop in the world price of oil. Two. 44.´ and susceptibility to market price fluctuations. and worst of all. the outcome of which is still unclear. shaking this dependence on oil is a very difficult task for a couple of reasons. creating pollution (which in turn raises unemployment. One. there must be some involved considering how little of the massive oil revenues the country brings in ever makes it to the everyday citizen. It does so by fostering conflicts. Oil revenues make political corruption especially bad because lack of checks and balances allows governments to under invest. spend the money for their own personal gain.27 Nigeria¶s dependence on oil exports markets has contributed greatly to its poverty. Collier. Nigerians have recently started a period of political reform. and encouraging government corruption. for the sake of its people. it is a first step in the direction of real economic growth. sickness. Unfortunately. 26 27 Liane Hansen. Nigeria needs to start taking steps to diversify their economy and thus start reducing its dependence on oil. high-ranking officials and politicians become accustom to the extravagant life styles funded by oil revenues. invest badly. ³Dutch disease."26 While political corruption is hard to measure. . and as such they are less likely to make any change that will reduce this revenue.

Poverty in Nigeria.Moser 8 Bibliography Amnesty International. 167 (July 2004): 132 .htm . 2009. Hansen. Oyefusi. UK: Amnesty International Publications.135.cia. no. http://www. The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It. Collier. Eno. Center for the Study of African Economics (June 2007). DC: Central Intelligence Agency. New York: Oxford University Press. Paul. National Public Radio.npr. 2008. Accessed February 4. Washington. 2009. Accessed February 4.org/en/ publications/africanvoices_chap05. https://www. Anwana. 2011.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index. Documenting the Paradox of Oil. London. Taking Control of Africa s Resources. Aderoju. http://www.php?storyId=92155119. The World Factbook 2009.org/templates/story/ story. Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta. Last modified June 6. Nigeria: Petroleum. African Voices on Development and Social Justice.pambazuka. Oil Dependence and Civil Conflict in Nigeria. 2007. Liane.pdf. 2011.

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