Nigeria (Delta region)


Conflict Summary

Since the 1990s, local groups have agitated for a greater proportion of the industrial wealth generated in the Niger Delta. Although the region is at the heart of Africa’s second-largest oil industry, it is poor, underdeveloped and polluted. In the early 1990s, the activist Ken Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni people in the first protests against the Nigerian government and oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron. In 1995, the government of the dictator Sani Abacha effectively ended the movement with the execution of Saro-Wiwa. However, three years later, ethnic Ijaws began similar challenges to the Nigerian government. Despite the return to democracy in 1999, much of the money from the government’s revenue-sharing scheme continued to bypass local people. Armed militants such as the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Niger Delta Vigilantes (NDV) emerged in 2003–04 and added terrorist tactics – such as bombing pipelines, attacking oil and gas installations and kidnapping industry workers – to the already widespread practice of stealing – or ‘bunkering’ – oil from pipelines. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which appeared in 2006, escalated the conflict still further. Despite a strong government offensive and amnesty in 2009, low-level violence continues, mostly notably against oil installations.