The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Robert V. Percival, Jolene Lin and William Piermattei
Chapter 9: Environmental justice in Nigeria’s oil industry: recognizing and embracing contemporary legal developments
The Niger Delta region that hosts Nigeria’s oil industry remains engulfed in violent conflicts of varying degrees which have persisted for over 50 years. While acknowledging the varying socio-political and economic contexts of these conflicts, this chapter posits that the legal framework spawns these conflicts. Particularly, the laws relating to the ownership and control of natural resources, public participation, and environmental justice significantly contribute to violent conflicts in this oil-rich region. Attempts to curb the restiveness in the region – including militarization of the Niger Delta and the establishment of development agencies for the region – have failed to stem the tide of conflict. The Federal Government’s recent amnesty initiative has provided some reprieve, but, without legal reform, the region remains susceptible to violent conflicts. The amnesty initiative is not the long-term solution to resolving crises in the region. Indeed, the initiative is not sustainable. First, it is a political initiative inherited by the Jonathan administration. It is unlikely to survive beyond the regime given political opposition and it lacks a legal grounding. Also, the huge budgetary outlay required makes it unviable as a long-term project. While the 2012 budget for the amnesty program was around N74 billion ($453 million), it is estimated that over N160 billion ($981 million) has been expended on it. Finally, the initiative could become counter-productive, as a new breed of militants may seek their share of the ‘national cake’ through amnesty.
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