Organized opposition to the oil industry in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria
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Nigeria’s oil industry, which is concentrated in the onshore and offshore areas of the Niger Delta region, has been characterized by agitation and protest over the uneven distribution of the oil wealth, and the pollution and environmental degradation associated with the industry, from the independence of Nigeria from British colonial rule. Nigeria, despite being Africa’s largest economy, faces many developmental challenges, in terms of poverty, corruption, political instability and fragmentation, and militarization. The importance of petroleum resources for both the global and Nigeria’s economy contributes to a dynamic where any threat to continuity of the oil-industry has been conceived as threat to the global economy and survival of the Nigerian state. This thesis argues that structures of decentralized despotism created by the indirect rule of the British colonial powers have been accompanied by post-independence neopatrimonial rule, and strengthened private authority multinational corporations, shapes and constrains the possibility for organized protest groups to promote their grievances in the Niger delta. It explores the space for organized opposition in the Niger Delta, and the strategies employed by protest groups to promote grievances related to the oil industry. Through analyzing four sub-cases, it argues that the political, economic and social structures created by decentralized despotism and neopatrimonial rule, influences both the space for – and nature of – organized protest in the Niger Delta.