This Week in the Niger Delta: August 9 – 15, 2010

  • Members of the Kokodiagbene community of Delta State protested against the state government and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDCC) for persistently neglecting their development needs. Community leaders called existing programs aimed at delivering a stable water supply to the local population inadequate and asked for new solutions.1 Similar complaints have been ignored by Chevron and the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) in the past, and it remains to be seen what impact the new action will have on the community.
  • The Nigerian Federal Government has begun a process that would employ new techniques to monitor environmental degradation and marine contamination on its southern coast. Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Sam Ode spoke at an event in favor of the plan, stressing the role that environmental degradation plays in regional militancy.2 Elsewhere in the Delta, The Federal Government signed a Joint Venture Agreement with Titan Projects Nigeria Limited and the Rivers State government to clean up oil waste.3
  • Tom Polo’s group of ex-MEND leaders, the Ex-Generals of MEND Forum (EGMF), released a statement demanding that the Federal Government refer to them as “camp generals” rather than simply “ex-militants”. Under the current post-amnesty agreements, those designated as “camp generals” receive bonus packages. While undoubtedly no more than rhetoric at this point, the statement included a call for President Goodluck Jonathan to look into their request as well as a thinly veiled threat that “we do not want anything that will make us return to the creeks.”4
  • A third batch of roughly 1,000 ex-militants was admitted to a camp in Cross River State for orientation and rehabilitation training. The first two batches are set to begin skill acquisition training on August 20th.5 However, fears of a bureaucratic logjam that could derail the progress made thus far have arisen. Should the Federal Government prove unable to properly administer the program, it is likely that many of the ex-militants will return to the creeks or sabotage the upcoming national elections in 2011.6
  • The economy of Bayelsa state is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years as plans move ahead to base the headquarters of the Nigeria Content Development Agency and a new Green Field refinery in the territory. A number of civil society groups and economic experts from the state hailed President Goodluck Jonathan for the moves.7
  • A forthcoming United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) report is expected to attribute only 10% of the total oil spilled in the Niger Delta to mechanical failures and negligence, while attributing the vast majority to oil bunkering and sabotage. The findings are pitting the UN against environmental activists who dispute the findings and claim that the report was paid for by Shell to downplay the role it has played in the environmental degradation of the region.8
  • The ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) announced that it may run current President Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s upcoming 2011 elections.9 Though Jonathan has not served a full term since taking over following the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua in May 2010, the zoning arrangement that dictates which geopolitical area of the country the party’s nominee will come from does not allow him to run again. The likelihood of his candidacy is being opposed, with activists calling Jonathan’s ambition for a full term “selfish”.10
  • Royal Dutch Shell announced a minor rise in pipeline sabotage in the first half of August, with at least three separate incidents confirmed.11