The Next Gulf? Oil politics, environmental Apocalypse and rising tension in the Niger Delta

The study is divided into five sections. The first substantive part of the paper attempts a theoretical exposition on the Nigerian state upon which the paper’s analyses are anchored. The second reflects on Nigeria’s political economy of oil, underscoring how oil has, since the 1970s, become the mainstay of the economy and led to the mishandling of its proceeds. The next illustrates the other side of oil not only for the country, but especially the Niger Delta: oil has become a curse in terms of environmental insecurity and attendant woes. This is followed by the responses of the major stakeholders – the oil-bearing communities, oil multinationals and the Nigerian state – and how such responses have worsened the situation. We also examine how the opportunities offered by the new democracy such as the Oputal Panel and the National Political Reform Conference (NPRC) were squandered by the major actors and the impacts of these failures on the “new” form and character of violence in the Niger Delta. On these notes, the paper queries whether the Niger Delta could actually become the next Gulf given the current similarities. The last section concludes and offers some actionable suggestions for taming the monster, which the Niger Delta has become.