1.1 Background of the Study
Oil exploration in Nigeria has evolved through a long history. However, they have left trail of woes in their path with so much damage to the ecosystem and problems to human life in the exploratory region. In the light of this, the paper appraises the implications of oil exploration and in the coastal region of kwale Delta State. Data used in the paper were obtained through physical verification, regular observations, constant monitoring, documentation and records of oral history and administration of questionnaire in some selected settlements in the region. The paper highlighted several direct environmental and associated problems that emanated from oil exploration and exploitation in the region. The problems identified among others include large-scale environmental pollution and degradation of agricultural land which serves as source of income for the people coupled with social unrest arising from unpaid claims of compensation and lack of concern for the people in the exploration area. The paper advocates for oil spill management plan, control and clearance of spills; giving concessions to indigenous oil companies during bidding process by granting licenses to operate in the kwale Niger-Delta region; adoption of long-term monitoring and surveillance mechanism; continuous provision of infrastructure for the host communities by prospecting oil companies; and development of national oil spill contingency plan among others with a view to guarantee sustainable development of the environment in the region.
Key words: Exploration, production, kwale Niger-Delta, and environmental pollution.
Oil and gas resources account for over 98% of the country’s export earnings and 83% of the government’s total revenue (Wikipedia, 2006). Even when serious efforts are being made at different quarters to diversify the Nigerian economy, her dependence on oil is bound to continue for a long period of time. Petroleum exploration has triggered adverse environmental impacts in the Delta region of Nigeria through incessant environmental, socio economic and physical disasters that have accumulated over the years due to limited scrutiny and lack of
Assessment (Achi, 2003).
In Nigeria, immense tracts of mangrove forests have been destroyed as a result of petroleum exploitation in the mangroves (Diop, 1993; Wikipedia, 2006). These have not only caused degradation to the environment and destroyed the traditional livelihood of the region but have caused environmental pollution that has affected weather conditions, soil fertility, waterways aquatic habitats and wild life. This inhuman situation continues to attract the interest of environmental observers and calls for regular evaluation of the exploration and exploitation activities in the coastal areas of the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Oil exploration which has its root in the kwale Niger Delta was celebrated February, 2008 as fifty (50) years of oil exploration in Nigeria. In spite of wealth generation by oil exploration, opinions of observers on the performance of the oil production sector especially its developmental relation with oil host region/communities has not been impressive. Nigeria’s former two times petroleum minister and former president of OPEC, Rilwan Lukman describes oil production in Nigeria as “a blessing and curse (Aiyetan 2008:30). Similarly Shamudeem Usman, Nigeria’s former minister of finance observed that Nigeria remain spoor in spite of being rich with oil (Tell, 2008: 32).Actually, some persons and companies have benefited enormously from the proceeds of the Nigerian oil while some communities and millions of people from the source of oil “The kwale Niger Delta” have been underdeveloped, long neglected and impoverished. The people of the kwale Niger Delta are faced with problems as a result of the oil exploration. The region in expectation of positive societal benefits ironically seems to be the least developed despite the fact that the nation depends solely on its wealth. The kwale Niger Delta oil exploration story is clearly synonymous to the aphorism that goes thus: The hen lays the golden eggs but not fed allowed to be in hunger perpetually. The people of kwale Niger Delta while facing the challenges of development on their environment are simultaneously taking into cognizance the impact of oil exploration on the environmental degradation of the land and the economy as well as socio-political well-being of the people of the host communities; hence the situation has caused the inhabitants of oil areas physical, emotional, psychological and counter value frustrations as a result of the Federal government’s deliberate policies and structure that causes human suffering, death, harm, deprivation, exclusion and oppression; a situation that leads to the extermination of the people’s cultural norms and practices that creates discrimination, injustice and human suffering. This systematic alienation of the federal government and Multi-National Oil Companies (MNOCs) finally culminated to frustration
Worries – Anger and to violence. As a result of the negativity recorded in human, capital and infrastructural development of the kwale Niger-Delta and particularly oil host communities in the region, the inhabitants of the kwale Niger Delta seeing the wealth from their area being extracted without benefits have resorted to taking matters into their hands; kidnapping oil workers, pipe-line vandalisation, militancy/insurgency, inter/intra communities civil strife among other deviant social vices have become the order of the day.
- Aim and Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of this research is to investigate oil exploitation and challenges of development in the kwale Niger Delta region. However the specific objectives are twofold
- To systematically investigate if there is any relationship between crude oil exploration and the poverty level of oil bearing communities.
- To critically examine whether oil proceeds had not improved infrastructural needs of the kwale Niger Delta and the effects of crises on oil production in Nigeria.
1.4 Significance/ Importance of the Study
We firmly believe that the findings of this study shall be of immeasurable value to the oil host communities, the kwale Niger Delta region, oil companies, state governments in the kwale Niger Delta and the Federal government.
The study shall expose certain shortcomings in our approach as students/researchers to tackle the kwale Niger Delta question in the Nigerian Federation. Multi-national oil companies (MNOCs) and government shall through the result of this research rededicate their efforts to the morality
Issues of why the kwale Niger Delta region requires aggressive development. Equally significant is that subsequent researchers will find results of the project useful particularly in the fields of social sciences and crises management oriented topics. The research will equally serve the task of filling a gap in existing literature and ultimately add to knowledge because the work is not devoid of the academic tradition of knowledge built on existing knowledge. Therefore,
Researchers/scholars in this era of western capitalist economy with its major tenets of globalization, market forces and liberalization of trade, the MNCs are on the offensive in both the extractive and manufacturing sectors all over the world. The agents and the states propagating these ideas refer to it as social relations.
This research work will reveal the hidden character which is causing instability in a region which is poverty stricken in the midst of plenty, the kwale Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, an environment responsible for the economic boom which the Nigerian government has enjoyed for decades but Nothing to show in the region. Finally, for practicality, the research will serve as a means to understanding the intrigues in oil production that metamorphosed to underdevelopment and crises in the Niger kwale Delta Region. Hence, the tasks of solving the crises and possible enhancement of socio-economic development and unity of the kwale Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole is achievable via application of moral standard to oil exploration as cited in this study.
1.5 Research Questions
- Is there any link between oil exploration in the kwale Niger Delta Region and
Growing poverty level in the oil bearing communities?
- Has oil prospecting companies improve infrastructural facilities in the kwale Niger Delta Region?
- Has the crises situation in the kwale Niger Delta Region reduced the oil producing capacity of Nigeria?