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Niger Delta: a widening war?

September 17, 2008

niger_delta_militants2.jpgRebels fighting for greater control of Nigeria’s oil wealth have raised the stakes in their campaing of bombings and kidnappings by threatening to extend attacks to offshore oil installations. Nigeria’s most prominent militant group earlier announced the launch of an “oil war” against oil companies and security forces in the restive Niger Delta. The four-days of fighting since the announcement have been the heaviest since the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta began its campaign of violence against the oil sector in early 2006. International oil markets, depressed in recent days by the impact of the credit crisis on the global economy, finally began taking notice of the escalating violence in Nigeria’s oil-producing region on Wednesday.

Security sources say more than 100 people may have been killed by the fighting, which has spread to at least seven villages in Rivers state.

Security sources and militants say this is a military offensive long planned by the government. The military disagrees saying the fighting was provoked by militant attacks.

The fighting comes just weeks after Nigeria’s president Umaru Yar’Adua handpicked new military chiefs and announced the establishment of a new ministry dedicated to the Niger Delta problem.

Do you think the recent clashes represent a new “get-tough” plan by the Nigerian government against militants in the delta? If so what is the likelihood of this tactic succeeding? What does Nigeria need to do to bring peace to the Niger Delta region?


Regardless of who started it, this is a good development: to finally bring things to a head after months of prevarication by the lazy Yar’Adua government. Nigeria should follow the U.S. example in Iraq to the extent that it is evident that without a full-scale, aggressive, and coordinated military offensive designed to neutralize, kill, and/or disarm local militias the much needed infrastructural development and investment in the Niger Delta will never happen. Nigeria has to be resolute and consistent in this policy to succeed.

Posted by Ketta | Report as abusive

The Niger Delta has seen a heavy arms influx since early 2000. Militant and criminal groups are very well armed and have also become tactically much stronger over the years. The terrain is ideal ground (with its creeks, swamps and mangrove forests, etc.) for protracted guerilla warfare.

Getting tough is necessary, particularly in relation to cults and gangs operating in the region, and has been on the cards of the Presidency for some time. However, there is a significant risk that current clashes may escalate, lead to high casualty rates and spiral out of control. Hopefully they will not, and rather serve as a precursor for talks.

Posted by David N | Report as abusive

The situation in Niger Delta is a common struggle for justice, the people of the region have suffered alot from the claimed majority the north. If patient cannot give us the benefit of our natural resources then we will try it by force no matter the blood sacrifised for it.

Posted by Timi | Report as abusive

The situation in Niger Delta is a common struggle for justice, the people of the region have suffered alot from the claimed majority of the north. If patient cannot give us the benefit of our natural resources then we will try it by force no matter the blood sacrifised for it.

Posted by Timi | Report as abusive

These militants do not represent the people of the Niger Delta, they represent their pockets and other hopeless politicians who are in it for personal gain. They are thugs and they need to be obliterated. Previous Nigerian rulers, oil multinationals must also share most of the blame in this state of sorry affairs and must be brought to book come what may. My heart and prayers goes out to The real victims,the people of Niger Delta.

Posted by Nduka Tolefe | Report as abusive

It is a shame to the Federal government of Nigeria and to all Nigerians who support injustice and corruption. The whole world knows that hunger and deprivations can lead to youth delinquency. The youth restiveness in the Niger Delta is apparently a result of high level corruption in Nigeria and age long exploitation of a defenseless people and their natural resources. It is a challenge to all people of Niger Delta. This is the time to fight. The youths in Niger Delta have been turned to idle and disorderly people, and kidnappers. What a shame to a government that supposed to provide necessaries. Let the North use the hard earned natural resources from Niger Delta to fight the defenseless people. One day, other nations who abhor injustice will support the course of the Niger Deltans.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

The violence in Nigeria is getting totally out of control. Many expats working for Oil Service Companies in Nigeria are in the country simply trying to earn a living to support their families back home. The problems Nigerians have are not the result of the workers but their own Government. Violence against expat workers is not a way for Nigerians to obtain peace and better living conditions. Violence only makes matters worse for everyone. It is the fault of the Nigerian Government that such an oil rich nation has it’s citizens living in poverty conditions. My prayer is that the rebels quit targeting violence against the workers and obtain their objectives in talks with their own Government.

Posted by Louise | Report as abusive

The oil war is long over due since for the past fifty years, a people whose land yields the resources have nothing to show for it. How long shall we keep the peace while Shell, BP, Chevron, Eni, Texaco and the rest of the oil companies arm the Nigerian rouge regimes to kill and destroy our people? It is better that we make the sacrifice now so that our children do not face same situation like we are going through. If there is any war that is ever to be justified, this is it. A people who are persecuted by invaders (Nigerian government and multi-national oil companies) are rightly empowered to protect itself as well as its resources. Niger Delta and indeed the entire Eastern part of Nigeria dealing with a criminal cabal that is made up of the oil companies in collaboration with the Nigerian governments over the years. No one really cares about the future of Nigeria rather the whole deal about ‘one Nigeria’ is based on the resources that is taken out of the East to fix other areas of the country.

It is either now or never for us to retake that which rightly belongs to us.



The Niger Delta crisis is an engineered crisis brought about by divide and rule tactics of greedy state governors and federal government officials who profit from increased security budgets, kick backs on stolen crude oil, and “security” and “maintenance” contracts from multinational oil companies. The delta boys may pose as the spearhead of a revolution but in fact most of them only care about contracts and money, which is why many collaborate with people in the same government institutions they decry in public. In a political system such as Nigeria, is it any wonder that disenfranchised youth will turn to the gun to get a slice of the cake. The first task to reverse this slide into chaos is for the government to tackle corruption within its own ranks, and try and hold a fair election in 2011. Lets all give a big round of applause to Obasanjo for the situation Nigeria finds itself in today. The situation in the delta today is a sign of just how dysfunctional the state has become.

Posted by Dinosaur | Report as abusive

the problem of the niger delta is becoming an issue today and am happy and what ever name anybody chooses to reffer to the fredom fighters does not matter because such names were not afloat during the days of total neglect so hw on earth will the millary succeed when the arms were bought from the proceeds from the region. never if the govt is not ready then they will fail

Posted by kelsie allison | Report as abusive

Those who think and believe the north is at fault and resposible for the Niger Delta, best look back at the history of the area. More over, look at those responsible for the oil profits given by the FG to state govts. Thieves likle Ibori and co have failed you in the Delta. Odili et al have houses and cars to rival the Dubai Emir. Where did these people ever see hear or smell the kind of luxury they now slap in their peoples faces but from TV? The day will coem when they will answer to their God and the people of Niger Delta. For those that want to take things by force, be careful. The FG and military can and will take it.

Posted by Yusuf | Report as abusive

I am sympathetic to the plight of Nigerian people. I hope something happens to change the current system of very few people in Nigeria benefitting from the nations oil. If they dont want expats there working to develop the oil they are close to getting their wish. If they want the oil to be undeveloped, okay. Keep killing expats and kidnapping and pirating their boats. I wont let my husband go there. I wont let anyone I care for go there. Nigeria is welcome to keep the oil I will ride my bicycle.

Posted by Dixie | Report as abusive

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