Effects of Ethnic Nationalism on Internal Security in the Niger Delta Region (1999-2014)
Ethnic nationalism is a common phenomenon in Niger Delta, Nigeria. Ethnic nationalism in Niger Delta has been agitating for so long for self-determination and to control their God giving resources, in their quest to achieve their aims, their actions sometimes has generated a lot of tension to Niger Delta region. The study examined ethnic nationalism and internal security in Niger Delta region, Nigeria. The study examined the research questions. Has ethnic nationalism affect the internal security of Niger Delta region 1999-2014? Secondly has Nigerian governmentinstitutions curtailed violent Niger Delta ethnic nationalism 1999-2014?. Group theory was adopted as our theoretical framework. The study relied on secondary source of data and as such generated qualitative data. The study revealed that ethnic nationalism has affected the internal security of Niger Delta region, Nigeria 1999-2014. Secondly, Nigeria government institutions has not adequately curtailed violent Niger Delta ethnic nationalism in the region 1999-2014.Based on the findings, this study is of the view that government should promote peace as the foundation for development, improve and diversify the economy, promote environmental sustainability to preserve the means of people sustainable livelihood, build sustainable partnerships for the advancement of human development and Nigeria government institutions should cut off from the Nigeria syndrome.
1.1 Background to the Study
The concept ethnic is derived from the Greek word “ethnos” meaning tribe or race. Niger Delta is blessed with numerous ethnic groups in Nigeria, which has also contributed to the sustainability of Nigeria state. The definition of the Niger Delta has elicited different views. The World Bank (1993) described it as one of the words larges wetlands and Africa’s largest delta covering some 70,000km, formed by the accumulation of sedimentary deposits transported by the Niger and Benue Rivers. A publication of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC) reads that:
The River Niger disgorges its waters into the Atlantic Ocean through a large number of tributaries which form the Niger Delta. The area of the Delta is further enlarged by rivers other than tributaries of the Niger……….Calabar River, Cross River and Imo River to the East, and Siluko River, Benin River, Escravoss River and River Forcados, to the west (OMPADEC, 1993: 80).
In the view of the OMPADEC, the River Niger, its tributaries and other rives which have enlarged the area of the Niger Delta; define the scope of the area. Following this, it posits that the Niger Delta is made up of at least seven states which are Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Cross-River, Ondo and Edo states. In like manner, the Willink Commission Report (1958) locates the Niger Delta within the Ibo Plateau and the Cross River valley. The Report describes it thus:
To the east of Ibo Plateau lies the valley of Cross River, which is fed by streams from the Cameroons as well as form the Plateau. This forms a broad vertical strip containing people who are not Ibos. Across the south of the region from the Niger in the West to the mountains in the East, stretches a broad horizontal best of swamps and low-lying country. These two strips of the coastal belt and the Cross River valley together make together a piece of country, the shape of a rather sprawling reversal ‘L’ which encloses the Ibo Plateau. In the swamp and Greek country of the south west there is an area in which the predominant tribe group is that of the Ijaws ……..towards the mouth of the Cross River are the Efiks ……… and the Ibibio’s …….. Further north on the Cross River are many tribes inter mingled in a confusing multitude (Willink Commission Report 1958:34).
The Niger Delta Ethnic communities have settled in the area for many millennia with the Ijaws ethnic group being the oldest group, having lived there for over 7,000 years, the other ethnic groups have been in the area for about 1,000 years (Ibaba, 2005). The widespread view, which accepts the definition of the Willink Commission, largely congruent with the position of OMPADEC, that sees the Niger Delta region as the south-south geopolitical zone, made up of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers states (with Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states classified as core Niger Delta states). The broader and widely refuted definition by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, which includes Abia, Imo and Ondo states, is wrong. The NDDC Act defines the Niger Delta as oil producing areas, which it is not. The scope of the region is defined by geography as highlighted by OMPADEC and the Willink Commission Report. The Ethnic groups in the Niger Delta includes the Itsekiri, Isoko, Urhobo, Ogoni, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Ika, Ibibio, Efiks, Ukwuani, Abua etc. The primary occupation of the people consists of fishing and farming. Niger Delta is the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry (with over 90 percent) share of production (Ibaba, 2005). Niger Delta region today has witnessed ethnic nationalist and also ethnic nationalism, however it is therefore imperative this study explained the concepts nationalism.
Ethnic nationalism is a form of nationalism wherein the “Nation” is defined in terms of ethnicity whatever specific ethnicity is involved while Nationalism refers to the feeling of solidarity and loyalty by social classes towards the rules and institutions of the social formation in which they live (Ifesinachi, 2011). The active consciousness of being a different nation especially in relations with other nations or groups. The struggles by colonized nations or nationalities for collective or separate independent statehood or any other form of self determination (Igwe, 2007: 283). Subrat (2010) elaborated that nationalism is the sense of belonging to a particular state.