This research examined the nexus between the environment, conflict and security in the
Niger Delta region of Nigeria as well as the factors that led to the conflict. Since the
discovery of oil in 1956, the Niger Delta has been entrapped in environmental degradation
as a result of oil mining, spurring a wide range of developmental challenges. Subsequently,
by the 1990s, deepening poverty and underdevelopment, exacerbated by ecological
problems, opened the space for the emergence of youth restiveness and a violent arms
struggle. This violent struggle by the Niger-Delta youth seeks to challenge the legitimacy of
the Nigerian state and the perceived corporate irresponsibility of Multinational Oil
Companies (MNCs). Thus, the region faces security challenges triggered by neglect on the
part of international and local oil companies and the failure of Nigeria’s central government
to meet the developmental, environmental and security demands of local communities.
Given this background, the research questions are: (1) In what ways do natural resources
contribute to conflicts and environmental despoliation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region? (2)
Do the federal government and oil companies meet the demands of the community regarding
environmental protection and the development and security of inhabitants? (3) Who are the
actors in the resource conflict? To address these questions, the research used a triangulation
approach, using primarily qualitative primary data sourced through 28 in-depth interviews
and three focus group discussions of 5-7 people per group. The data obtained were coded
and analysed thematically, and secondary quantitative data was used to supplement primary
The original contribution of this research is in three main aspects: First, my research reveals
a complex relationship between the local oil servicing contractors and the militant groups.
There is strategic destructive alliance between these two actors underpinned by moral
hazard. The oil servicing contractors employ the services of the local people to vandalise the oil pipelines in order for the MNCs to award contract to them for repair of the vandalised
Second, the Presidential Amnesty granted to the militants appear to have produced
unintended outcomes in undermining productive economic activity and exacerbating
insecurity in the region. The monthly payments of allowances to former militants under the
amnesty programme incentivised the otherwise peaceful youths to join militancy to benefit
from amnesty benefits. This intervention gives credence to the view that the federal and state
governments only listen to those who take up arms against the state.
Third, this research proposes a revised theoretical model that integrates two previous
frameworks to illuminate the nature and context of resources curse. This integrated model
brings together the rentier model and Dutch disease/resource curse to explain the
characteristics and complexities of natural resource governance issues in Nigeria. It can be
applied to other regions with similar challenges and profiles.
Overall, the research has elicited significant theoretical and empirical insights into different
views of the oil extraction, security and development. Recommendations are provided for
future research and policy interventions.