The nexus between natural resources and conflict in the Gulf of Guinea: Case of Nigeria
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Countries endowed with natural resources such as Nigeria have been susceptible to economic underdevelopment and conflict. Nigeria is an empirical case for the resource curse-a notion that depicts a negative correlation between resource endowment, development and conflict. This study examines the relationship between natural resources, oil in particular and conflict in Nigeria. The study sought to examine the historical development of conflict over oil in Nigeria and to ascertain the impact of structurally-induced scarcity resulting from the distribution of rents in the country. The research was guided by the hypothesis that lack of accountability and unfair distribution of natural resource wealth amalgamated with political and social grievances normally results in explosive conflicts in resource rich countries. The resource curse, greed and grievance theories provided the framework for analysis. The study used the case study design wherein qualitative tools such as documentary search and in-depth interviews with key informants were employed to gather data. Data was analyzed using content analysis for documentary data and thematic analysis for interview data. Information gathered was presented using emerging themes from the data. The main finding of the research is that, the regime governing the oil industry in Nigeria pushes the producing community to the periphery in decision making. The local people are frustrated because of the perception that oil revenue has not been used to improve their livelihoods. This has led them to resort to violence in seeking the attention of the government. The research concludes that conflict in Nigeria is a result of the governance system in the country which does not allow for the equitable distribution of oil wealth. The implication of this is that there is need for the inclusion of the Delta people into the central government such that their needs can be addressed at the highest level. The research recommends the systematic reform of institutions governing the oil industry in Nigeria such that the government would be made accountable on the use of oil revenue.