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The Political Ecology of Oil in the Niger Delta: Understanding Youth Violence from the Perspectives of Youths

Alozie, Modesta Tochi; (2020) The Political Ecology of Oil in the Niger Delta: Understanding Youth Violence from the Perspectives of Youths. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The Niger Delta is an oil-producing region in Southern Nigeria. It is rich in biodiversity and has abundant petroleum resources. Increased demand for Nigeria’s low sulphur oil shortly after Shell D’Arcy discovered oil in the Niger Delta in 1956 transformed Nigeria, previously an agrarian economy, into the largest oil producer in the continent of Africa. Today, oil dominates Nigeria’s export and contributes significantly to its foreign exchange earnings. With the commercialisation of oil in 1958, the federal government introduced new institutional mechanisms which set the stage for Nigeria’s fiscal centralism. These include a nationalised oil company (NNPC) established in 1971 and the distributable pool account introduced in 1966, subsequently renamed the federation account in 1979. In contrast to the fiscal arrangement in pre-oil Nigeria, these institutional mechanisms gave the federal government the legitimacy to retain a large proportion of the profits generated from the oil industry. But while the federal government and oil companies accumulate enormous profits from oil, violence became a part of everyday life in the Niger Delta. To a significant degree, the linkages between oil and violence in the Niger Delta is connected to discontent over the oil revenue distribution pattern, which has led to the emergence of violent groups in which youths, and male youths, in particular, are the main actors. These violent groups, known locally as ‘militants’, are resisting the oil companies, local leaders, and the federal government who they blame for their experiences of violence. The media and official discourses characterise these violent groups as criminals and problematic and blame them for violence. So far, there has been little systematic effort to give these youths a voice in discussions about violence in the Niger Delta. Using a political ecology approach which combines Bourdieu’s thinking tools-(habitus, field and capital)-with Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity, this thesis seeks to understand petro-violence from the perspective of youths but male youths in particular. This means an analysis that prioritises how young people perceive, explain and justify their relationship with violence. The arguments in this thesis resulted mainly from 5 events of focus groups and in-depth interview with 84 youths mostly from two ethnic groups (Ijaw and Ogoni) who have experienced oil-related violence in both direct and indirect forms. It also includes in-depth interviews with 42 institutional representatives who have relevant knowledge about youth violence in the Niger Delta. The findings highlight the role of the political ecology of oil as well as institutional and social factors in shaping young people’s experiences of violence. Based on these findings, this thesis shifts away from an explanation of youth violence which focuses on youth (mis) behaviour and moves towards an analysis which locates young people’s relationship with violence within the broader social structures that contours their lives.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Political Ecology of Oil in the Niger Delta: Understanding Youth Violence from the Perspectives of Youths
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10088778
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