The Niger Delta is the delta of the Niger River sitting directly on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria. It is typically considered to be located within nine coastal southern Nigerian states, which include: all six states from the South South geopolitical zone, one state (Ondo) from South West geopolitical zone and two states (Abia and Imo) from South East geopolitical zone. Of all the states that the region covers, only Cross River is not an oil-producing state.
The Niger Delta is a very densely populated region sometimes called the Oil Rivers because it was once a major producer of palm oil. The area was the British Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 until 1893, when it was expanded and became the Niger Coast Protectorate. The delta is a petroleum-rich region and has been the center of international controversy over pollution.
The Niger Delta, as now defined officially by the Nigerian government, extends over about 70,000 km2 (27,000 sq mi) and makes up 7.5% of Nigeria's land mass. Historically and cartographically, it consists of present-day Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers States. In 2000, however, Obasanjo's regime included Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River State, Edo, Imo and Ondo States in the region. Some 31 million people of more than 40 ethnic groups including the Bini, Efik, Esan, Ibibio, Igbo, Annang, Yoruba, Oron, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Abua/Odual, Itsekiri, Isoko, Urhobo, Ukwuani, Kalabari, Okrika, Ogoni and Obolo people, are among the inhabitants of the political Niger Delta, speaking about 250 different dialects.
The Niger Delta, and the South South geopolitical zone (which contains six of the states in Niger Delta) are two different entities. The Niger Delta separates the Bight of Benin from the Bight of Bonny within the larger Gulf of Guinea.
The area was the British Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 until 1893, when it was expanded and became the Niger Coast Protectorate. The core Niger Delta later became a part of the eastern region of Nigeria, which came into being in 1951 (one of the three regions, and later one of the four regions). The majority of the people were those from the colonial Calabar and Ogoja divisions, the present-day Ogoja, Annang, Ibibio, Oron, Efik, Ijaw and Ogoni peoples. The National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon (NCNC) was the ruling political party of the region. The NCNC later became the National Convention of Nigerian Citizens, after western Cameroon decided to separate from Nigeria. The ruling party of eastern Nigeria did not seek to preclude the separation and even encouraged it. The then Eastern Region had the third, fourth and fifth largest indigenous ethnic groups in the country including Igbo, Efik-Ibibio and Ijaw.
In 1953, the old eastern region had a major crisis due to the expulsion of professor Eyo Ita from office by the majority Igbo tribe of the old eastern region. Ita, an Efik man from Calabar, was one of the pioneer nationalists for Nigerian independence. The minorities in the region, the Ibibio, Annang, Efik, Ijaw and Ogoja, were situated along the southeastern coast and in the delta region and demanded a state of their own, the Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) state. The struggle for the creation of the COR state continued and was a major issue concerning the status of minorities in Nigeria during debates in Europe on Nigerian independence. As a result of this crisis, Professor Eyo Ita left the NCNC to form a new political party called the National Independence Party (NIP) which was one of the five Nigerian political parties represented at the conferences on Nigerian Constitution and Independence.
In 1961, another major crisis occurred when the then eastern region of Nigeria allowed present-day Southwestern Cameroon to separate from Nigeria (from the region of what is now Akwa Ibom and Cross River states) through a plebiscite while the leadership of the then Northern Region took the necessary steps to keep Northwestern Cameroon in Nigeria, in present-day Adamawa and Taraba states. The aftermath of the 1961 plebiscite has led to a dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the small territory of Bakassi.
A new phase of the struggle saw the declaration of an Independent Niger Delta Republic by Isaac Adaka Boro during Nigerian president Ironsi's administration, just before the Nigerian Civil War.
Also just before the Nigerian civil war, Southeastern State of Nigeria was created (also known as Southeastern Nigeria or Coastal Southeastern Nigeria), which had the colonial Calabar division, and colonial Ogoja division. Rivers State was also created. Southeastern state and River state became two states for the minorities of the old eastern region, and the majority Igbo of the old eastern region had a state called East Central state. Southeastern state was renamed Cross River state and was later split into Cross River state and Akwa Ibom state. Rivers state was later divided into Rivers state and Bayelsa State.
The people of the eastern region suffered heavily and sustained many deaths during 1967–1970 Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War, in which the eastern region declared an independent state named Biafra that was eventually defeated, thereby preserving the sovereignty and indivisibility of the Nigerian state, which led to the loss of many souls.
During the next phase of resistance in the Niger Delta, local communities demanded environmental and social justice from the federal government, with Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni tribe as the lead figures for this phase of the struggle. Cohesive oil protests became most pronounced in 1990 with the publication of the Ogoni Bill of Rights. The indigents protested against the lack of economic development, e.g. schools, good roads, and hospitals, in the region, despite all the oil wealth created. They also complained about environmental pollution and destruction of their land and rivers by foreign oil companies. Ken Saro Wiwa and nine other oil activists from Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) were arrest and killed under Sani Abacha in 1995. Although protests have never been as strong as they were under Saro-Wiwa, there is still an oil reform movement based on peaceful protests today as the Ogoni struggle served as a modern-day eye opener to the Peoples of the region. 
Unfortunately, the struggle got out of control, and the present phase has become militant. When long-held concerns about loss of control over resources to the oil companies were voiced by the Ijaw people in the Kaiama Declaration in 1998, the Nigerian government sent troops to occupy the Bayelsa and Delta states. Soldiers opened fire with rifles, machine guns, and tear gas, killing at least three protesters and arresting twenty-five more.
Since then, local indigenous activity against commercial oil refineries and pipelines in the region have increased in frequency and militancy. Recently foreign employees of Shell, the primary corporation operating in the region, were taken hostage by outraged local people. Such activities have also resulted in greater governmental intervention in the area, and the mobilization of the Nigerian army and State Security Service into the region, resulting in violence and human rights abuses.
In April 2006, a bomb exploded near an oil refinery in the Niger Delta region, a warning against Chinese expansion in the region. MEND stated: "We wish to warn the Chinese government and its oil companies to steer well clear of the Niger Delta. The Chinese government, by investing in stolen crude, places its citizens in our line of fire."
Government and private initiatives to develop the Niger Delta region have been introduced recently. These include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a government initiative, and the Development Initiative (DEVIN), a community development non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta. Uz and Uz Transnational, a company with a strong commitment to the Niger Delta, has introduced ways of developing the poor in the Niger Delta, especially in Rivers State.
In September 2008, MEND released a statement proclaiming that their militants had launched an "oil war" throughout the Niger Delta against both, pipelines and oil-production facilities, and the Nigerian soldiers that protect them. Both MEND and the Nigerian Government claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on one another. In August 2009, the Nigerian government granted amnesty to the militants; many militants subsequently surrendered their weapons in exchange for a presidential pardon, rehabilitation programme, and education.
Western Niger Delta consists of the western section of coastal South-South Nigeria which includes Delta, and the southernmost parts of Edo, and Ondo States. The western (or Northern) Niger Delta is an heterogeneous society with several ethnic groups including the Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri, Ijaw (or Izon) and Ukwuani groups in Delta State; the Bini, Esan,Auchi,Esako,oral,igara and Afenmai in Edo State; and the Yoruba (Ilaje) in Ondo State. Their livelihoods are primarily based on fishing and farming. History has it that the Western Niger was controlled by chiefs of the four primary ethnic groups the Itsekiri, Isoko, Ijaw, and Urhobo with whom the British government had to sign separate "Treaties of Protection" in their formation of "Protectorates" that later became southern Nigeria.
Central Niger Delta consists of the central section of coastal South-South Nigeria which includes Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia and Imo States. The Central Niger Delta region has the Ijaw (including the Nembe-Brass, Ogbia, Kalabari people, Ibani of Opobo & Bonny, Abua, Okrika, Engenni and Andoni clans), the Ogoni People (Khana, Gokana and Eleme) and the Etche, Ogba, Ikwerre, Ndoni, Ekpeye and Ndoki in Rivers State.
Nigeria has become West Africa's biggest producer of petroleum. Some 2 million barrels (320,000 m3) a day are extracted in the Niger Delta. It is estimated that 38 billion barrels of crude oil still reside under the delta as of early 2012. The first oil operations in the region began in the 1950s and were undertaken by multinational corporations, which provided Nigeria with necessary technological and financial resources to extract oil. Since 1975, the region has accounted for more than 75% of Nigeria's export earnings. Together oil and natural gas extraction comprise "97 per cent of Nigeria's foreign exchange revenues". Much of the natural gas extracted in oil wells in the Delta is immediately burned, or flared, into the air at a rate of approximately 70 million m³per day. This is equivalent to 41% of African natural gas consumption and forms the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet. In 2003, about 99% of excess gas was flared in the Niger Delta, although this value has fallen to 11% in 2010. (See also gas flaring volumes). The biggest gas flaring company is the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, a joint venture that is majority owned by the Nigerian government. In Nigeria, "...despite regulations introduced 20 years ago to outlaw the practice, most associated gas is flared, causing local pollution and contributing to climate change." The environmental devastation associated with the industry and the lack of distribution of oil wealth have been the source and/or key aggravating factors of numerous environmental movements and inter-ethnic conflicts in the region, including recent guerrilla activity by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
In September 2012 Eland Oil & Gas purchased a 45% interest in OML 40, with its partner Starcrest Energy Nigeria Limited, from the Shell Group. They intend to recommission the existing infrastructure and restart existing wells to re-commence production at an initial gross rate of 2,500 bopd with a target to grow gross production to 50,000 bopd within four years.
Oil revenue allocation has been the subject of much contention well before Nigeria gained its independence. Allocations have varied from as much as 50%, owing to the First Republic's high degree of regional autonomy, and as low as 10% during the military dictatorships. This is the table below.
|Year||Federal||State*||Local||Special Projects||Derivation Formula**|
* State allocations are based on 5 criteria: equality (equal shares per state), population, social development, land mass, and revenue generation.
**The derivation formula refers to the percentage of the revenue oil-producing states retain from taxes on oil and other natural resources produced in the state. World Bank Report
The documentary film Sweet Crude, which premiered April 2009 at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, tells the story of Nigeria's Niger Delta.
The effects of oil in the fragile Niger Delta communities and environment have been enormous. Local indigenous people have seen little if any improvement in their standard of living while suffering serious damage to their natural environment. According to Nigerian federal government figures, there were more than 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000. It has been estimated that a clean-up of the region, including full restoration of swamps, creeks, fishing grounds and mangroves, could take 25 years.
The 2016 Niger Delta conflict is an ongoing conflict around the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in a bid for the secession of the region, which was a part of the breakaway state of Biafra. It follows on-and-off conflict in the Christian-dominated southern Niger Delta in the preceding years, as well as an insurgency in the Muslim-dominated northeast.Bayelsa State
Bayelsa is a state in southern Nigeria in the core Niger Delta region, between Delta State and Rivers State. Its capital is Yenagoa. The main language spoken is Ijaw with dialects such as Kolukuma, Mein, Bomu, Nembe, Epie-Atisa, and Ogbia. Like the rest of Nigeria, English is the official language. The state was formed in 1996 from part of Rivers State and is thus one of the newest states of the Nigerian federation.Cletus Komena Emein
Cletus Komena Emein was Governor of Niger State in Nigeria from 9 Dec 1993 to 22 Aug 1996.
He became a member of the Niger Delta Committee, tasked with solving the endemic violence in the oil-producing region, in September 2008.Conflict in the Niger Delta
The current conflict in the Niger Delta first arose in the early 1990s over tensions between foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta's minority ethnic groups who feel they are being exploited, particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw. Ethnic and political unrest has continued throughout the 1990s despite the conversion to democracy and the election of the Obasanjo government in 1999. Competition for oil wealth has fueled violence between ethnic groups, causing the militarization of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia groups, Nigerian military and police forces, notably the Nigerian Mobile Police. The violence has contributed to Nigeria's ongoing energy supply crisis by discouraging foreign investment in new power generation plants in the region.
From 2004 on, violence also hit the oil industry with piracy and kidnappings. In 2009, a presidential amnesty program accompanied with support and training of ex-militants proved to be a success. Thus until 2011, victims of crimes were fearful of seeking justice for crimes committed against them because of a failure to prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses.Environmental issues in the Niger Delta
The key environmental issues in the Niger Delta of Nigeria relate to its petroleum and industry.
The delta covers 20,000 km² within wetlands of 70,000 km² formed primarily by sediment deposition. Home to 20 million people and 40 different ethnic groups, this floodplain makes up 7.5% of Nigeria's total land mass. It is the largest wetland and maintains the third-largest drainage basin in Africa. The Delta's environment can be broken down into four ecological zones: coastal barrier islands, mangrove swamp forests, freshwater swamps, and lowland rainforests.
This incredibly well-endowed ecosystem contains one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity on the planet, in addition to supporting abundant flora and fauna, arable terrain that can sustain a wide variety of crops, lumber or agricultural trees, and more species of freshwater fish than any ecosystem in West Africa. The region could experience a loss of 40% of its inhabitable terrain in the next thirty years as a result of extensive dam construction in the region. The carelessness of the oil industry has also precipitated this situation, which can perhaps be best encapsulated by a 1983 report issued by the NNPC, long before popular unrest surfaced:
We witnessed the slow poisoning of the waters of this country and the destruction of vegetation and agricultural land by oil spills which occur during petroleum operations. But since the inception of the oil industry in Nigeria, more than twenty-five years ago, there has been no concerned and effective effort on the part of the government, let alone the oil operators, to control environmental problems associated with the industry'.Geography of Nigeria
Nigeria is a country in West Africa. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the south and it borders Lake Chad to the northeast. Noted geographical features in Nigeria include the Adamawa highlands, Mambilla Plateau, Jos Plateau, Obudu Plateau, the Niger River, River Benue and Niger Delta.
Nigeria is found in the Tropics, where the climate is seasonally damp and very humid.
Nigeria is affected by four climate types; these climate types are distinguishable, as one moves from the southern part of Nigeria to the northern part of Nigeria through Nigeria's middle belt.Ijaw people
Ijaw people (also known by the subgroups "Ijo" or "Izon") are a collection of peoples indigenous to the Niger Delta in Nigeria, inhabiting regions of the states of Ondo, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Akwa Ibom,Southern part of Abia and Rivers State. Many are found as migrant fishermen in camps as far west as Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon. Population figures for the Ijaws vary greatly, though most range from 13 million to 15 million. They have long lived in locations near many sea trade routes, and they were well connected to other areas by trade as early as the 15th century.Inner Niger Delta
The Inner Niger Delta, also known as the Macina or Masina, is the inland delta of the Niger River. It is an area of fluvial wetlands, lakes and floodplains in the semi-arid Sahel area of central Mali, just south of the Sahara desert.Itsekiri language
The Itsekiri language is a major branch of the Yoruboid group of languages, which as a group, is a key member of the Volta–Niger sub-family of the Niger–Congo family of African languages. Itsekiri is spoken by nearly 900,000 people in Nigeria as a first language and by many others as an additional language notably in the Niger Delta and in parts of Edo and Ondo states of Nigeria. The other key members of the Yoruboid group are Yoruba (22 million) and Igala (1.8 million) along with the various Yoruba dialects spoken in Benin and Togo.Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs
The Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs was announced by Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua on 10 September 2008.Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is one of the largest militant groups in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.Niger Delta Basin (geology)
The Niger Delta Basin, also referred to as the Niger Delta province, is an extensional rift basin located in the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea on the passive continental margin near the western coast of Nigeria with suspected or proven access to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe. This basin is very complex, and it carries high economic value as it contains a very productive petroleum system. The Niger delta basin is one of the largest subaerial basins in Africa. It has a subaerial area of about 75,000 km2, a total area of 300,000 km2, and a sediment fill of 500,000 km3. The sediment fill has a depth between 9–12 km. It is composed of several different geologic formations that indicate how this basin could have formed, as well as the regional and large scale tectonics of the area. The Niger Delta Basin is an extensional basin surrounded by many other basins in the area that all formed from similar processes. The Niger Delta Basin lies in the south westernmost part of a larger tectonic structure, the Benue Trough. The other side of the basin is bounded by the Cameroon Volcanic Line and the transform passive continental margin.Niger Delta Development Commission
The Niger Delta Development Commission is a federal government agency established by Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo in the year 2000 with the sole mandate of developing the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
In September 2008, President Umaru Yar'Adua announced the formation of a Niger Delta Ministry, with the Niger Delta Development Commission to become a parastatal under the ministry. One of the core mandates of the Commission is to train and educate the youths of the oil rich Niger Delta regions to curb hostilities and militancy, while developing key infrastructure to promote diversification and productivity.Niger Delta Science School
Niger Delta Science School (NDSS), formerly known as Ompadec Science Centre, is a specialist science secondary school in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. It is located within the Rivers State College of Arts and Science main campus in Rumuola. It is an all senior secondary school, having SS1 - SS3. The approximate coordinates of the school are: 4°50′8″N 6°59′44″E (4.835739, 6.995757).Niger Delta University
Niger Delta University (NDU) is in Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State in Nigeria is a Bayelsa state government funded university. It was established in 2000 by Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, then governor of Bayelsa state. It has two main campuses, one in the state capital, Yenagoa, which contains the law faculty, and the other in Amassoma. It also has its teaching hospital known as Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital (NDUTH) in Okolobiri.
Niger Delta University has come a long way since its establishment, Its main campus in Amassoma is in a temporary site, with work on the permanent site ongoing.
The university offers education at Bachelor, Masters and PhD levels. It is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. It is accredited and recognized by the National Universities Commission (NUC)Niger Delta red colobus
The Niger Delta red colobus (Piliocolobus epieni) is a critically endangered species of colobus monkey endemic to the western part of the Niger Delta. It is threatened by hunting and habitat loss.Ogoni nationalism
Ogoni nationalism is a political ideology that seeks self determination by the Ogoni people. The Ogonis are one of the many indigenous peoples in the region of southeast Nigeria. They number about 1.5 million people and live in a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoni, or Ogoniland. They share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people of Niger Delta.
The Ogoni rose to international attention after a massive public protest campaign against Shell Oil, led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). MOSOP's mandated use of non-violent methods to promote democratic principles assist Ogoni people pursue rights of self-determination in environmental issues in the Niger Delta, cultural rights and practices for Ogoni people.Ogoni people
The Ogoni people (also known as the Ogonis) are one of the many indigenous peoples in the region of southeast Nigeria. They now number about over two million people and live in a 404-square-mile (1,050 km2) homeland which they also refer to as Ogoni, or Ogoniland. They share common oil-related environmental problems with the Ijaw people of Niger Delta.
The Ogoni rose to international attention after a massive public protest campaign against Shell Oil, led by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), which is also a member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).Urhobo people
The Urhobos are people located in Southern Nigeria, near the northwestern Niger Delta. The Urhobo are the major ethnic group in Delta State, one of the 36 states of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Urhobos speak the Urhobo language.
The word Urhobo refers to a group of people rather than a territory. Approximately two million people are Urhobos. They have a social and cultural affinity to the Edo people of Nigeria. The Urhobo people live in a territory bounded by latitudes 6°and 5°, 15° North and Longitudes 5°, 40° and 6°, 25° East in the Delta and the Bayelsa States of Nigeria. Their neighbors are the Isoko to the Southeast, the Itsekiri and Ijaw to the West, the Edo people, Bini, to the North, the Ijaw to the South and the Ukwuani people (to the Northeast). Urhobo territory consists of evergreen forests with many oil palm trees. The territory is covered by a network of streams, whose volume and flow are directly affected by the seasons. The wet season is traditionally from April to October, and dry season ranges from November to March.
|Tributaries (list) and |
|Dams and bridges|
Regions of Africa