By Bethel Ovie
The Niger Delta is the delta of the Niger River sitting directly on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria.It is typically considered to be located within nine coastal southern Nigerian states, which include: all six states from the South South geopolitical zone. Of all the states that the region covers, only Cross River is not an oil-producing state.
The Niger Delta is a very densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil. The area was the British Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 until 1893, when it was expanded and became the Niger Coast Protectorate. The delta is a petroleum-rich region and has been the center of international controversy over pollution
Nigeria has become West Africa’s biggest producer of petroleum. Some 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) a day are extracted in the Niger Delta. It is estimated that 38 billion barrels of crude oil still reside under the delta as of early 2012.
The first oil operations in the region began in the 1950s and were undertaken by multinational corporations, which provided Nigeria with necessary technological and financial resources to extract oil.Since 1975, the region has accounted for more than 75% of Nigeria’s export earnings. Together oil and natural gas extraction comprise “97 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange revenues”. Much of the natural gas extracted in oil wells in the Delta is immediately burned, or flared, into the air at a rate of approximately 70 million m³per day. This is equivalent to 41% of African natural gas consumption and forms the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet.
In 2003, about 99% of excess gas was flared in the Niger Delta,although this value has fallen to 11% in 2010. The biggest gas flaring company is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, a joint venture that is majority owned by the Nigerian government. In Nigeria, “…despite regulations introduced 20 years ago to outlaw the practice, most associated gas is flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change.”The environmental devastation associated with the industry and the lack of distribution of oil wealth have been the source and key aggravating factors of numerous environmental movements and inter-ethnic conflicts in the region, including recent guerrilla activity by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
In September 2012 Eland Oil & Gas purchased a 45% interest in OML 40, with its partner Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited, from the Shell Group. They intend to recommission the existing infrastructure and restart existing wells to re-commence production at an initial gross rate of 2,500 barrels (400 m3) of oil per day with a target to grow gross production to 50,000 barrels (7,900 m3) of oil per day within four years.
For the roughly fifty years since Nigeria declared independence from British colonial rule, oil has been produced in Nigeria. Throughout this period, corporate politics has intersected with successive dictatorships. Under these dictatorships the Nigerian government has signed laws that appropriated oil resources and placed these under the control of multinational oil companies, such as Chevron Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell.
Over the last twenty years various political movements and activists have emerged in opposition to the perceived injustices perpetrated upon the people of the Niger Delta by the government and the oil companies. These were usually nonviolent; Ken Saro-Wiwa was the most famous activist. Saro-Wiwa was an Ogoni poet-turned-activist who was executed by the Nigerian government in 1995 on what many believe to be deliberately false charges with the aim of silencing his vocal opposition to the oil interests in Nigeria.
In Saro-Wiwa’s footsteps came others who, having seen the government’s reaction to nonviolent activism, advocated violence as resistance to what they regarded as the enslavement of their people. Militants in the delta enjoy widespread support among the region’s approximately 20 million people, most of whom live in poverty despite the enormous wealth generated in the oil-rich region.
With this background,Just like Dubai,a desert in the middle East of United Arab Emirates,where oil was discovered in the 50s,Dubai has become one of the fast growing Economy in the world,world best city and has witness Economy boom due to inflow of tourists coming to spend holidays and do shoppings.
Proceed from oil discovery was managed to turn Dubai from desert to world best city.Where our political leaders now steal our common wealth and used the money to buy luxury items and assets.
But here in Niger Delta,we live in imaginary paradise where oil spillage is the world best ocean,poverty is the world best livestyle,bad roads is our modern song.
Instead of the region to witness massive development,just like oil rich regions in the world,we are face with fake promises.Leaders from the region sold our stake in the distribution of our common wealth,while the vast majority suffered in penury.
However,the time to change the narrative is now,the best time to build schools,and provides all Infrastructures to make the region Dubai of today is now and this task must be shoulder by both the old,and the young.
This is the Mission of Rebranding the Niger Delta,a non-governmental organization leading the advocacy to reorient the people in the region.
Rebranding The Niger Delta.