The Niger Delta Conflict Natural resources for
Nigeria is the biggest producer of petroleum in Africa. It produces 2.4
million barrels a day. Most of the oil is produced in the Niger Delta
region in the south, far away from the government of Nigeria in the
richer city of Abuja farther
north. The major oil companies working in Nigeria are
Shell, Mobil, and Chevron. These multinational oil companies produce
the oil in Nigeria and sell it in other countries. The oil has been
flowing for over 50 years.
Nigeria should be one of the richest countries in Africa and the world,
it is one of the poorest. 70% of the people in the Niger
Delta region live in poverty (on less
than 1$ a day) while the oil companies continue to get richer and
The oil production causes much damage to the environment, but
the oil companies do not take responsibility. Traditionally, people
from the area catch fish but the fish are dying and there aren't enough
fish to catch.
When oil is drilled, natural gas is also produced. However, the
gas is expensive to keep and sell. The oil companies often simply
release it into the air or burn it making continuous fires or 'flares'
that smoke the sky 24 hours a day. There is
so much gas released that the amount equals 40% of all the gas used on
the whole continent of Africa. The flaring and released gasses
in Nigeria are the
biggest single source of greenhouse gasses on Planet Earth. In
developed countries, flaring is illegal.
These gasses and smoke also produce acid rain which causes many
problems for people living in the countryside.
Many people who live in the Niger
Delta region are angry about 2 things: one is the damage to the
environment caused by the oil companies, and the other is that almost
none of the oil money is used to improve their area by making schools
or roades, etc. When the people in the Niger Delta region
protest, the police or
military often arrest and even torture them. Over 50,000 people have
been killed by the government. The oil companies
know about this, but continue paying the Nigerian
government large amounts of money to protect their oil wells and
People have gotten so angry that some groups from the Niger
Delta have kidnapped workers from the oil companies. They ask for
money, but they also want people to listen to them and pay attention to
the problems the oil companies are causing. Over 200 people have been
kidnapped and the problems continue.
There are similar stories in many developing countries. Natural
resources mean big money, but for who? Often the money goes only to the
multinational corporations, and a few rich people in that country.
militaristic governments help the multinational corporations by
the people if they become unhappy. Amazingly, finding valuable
natural resources in a country can actually make poverty worse. Some
people call this 'the curse of the natural resources'.