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Conflict, Corruption behind slow Investment in Niger Delta – Experts

Conflict and Corruption are the main reasons why the much-needed investments in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta have been slow, according to experts who spoke Tuesday on the matter.

Conflict and Corruption are the main reasons why the much-needed investments in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta have been slow, according to experts who spoke Tuesday on the matter.

Speaking in Abuja at a Documentary screening of a film titled “Time for Collective Action against conflict and corruption in the Niger Delta”, they attributed the near absence of key investments like industries and infrastructure to what they referred to as  “conflict Entrepreneurs”.

Zibima Tubodenyefa, Lecturer, Nigeria Delta University, speaking at the event to unveil the documentary in Abuja said that the conflict entrepreneurs activate violence against planned investments which give them ample access to rents.

He said, “We realized that what these conflict entrepreneurs do mostly and very effectively is to stoke legacy issues, ethic issues, land disputes among others, apart from using the instrument of ignorance against the people to their personal advantage”.

He lamented that the “conflict entrepreneurs” has and control information around potential investments but often let out misrepresentation of the facts and become key stakeholders when it gets to a point of negotiations.

“These group of persons who cut across government, its agencies and the host communities are said to be feeding fat on the current rent-seeking system they operate and ready to stall investment in the region that is not to their personal benefit”.

The documentary screening was sponsored by the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria (FOSTER) is titled: “The Impact of Corruption and Conflict on Investments in the Energy Rich Niger Delta Community.”

The convener of the documentary, Louis Brown Ogbeifun, however, stressed on the need for citizen’s to hold the government responsible and accountable for failure to provide social amenities, infrastructure, and encouraging pervasive corruption in high places which has left the people in a worse situation.

He said, “These are individuals that have turned themselves into principalities and powers who must be worshipped and consulted without which no investment can prosper in the Niger Delta region”.

The experts cited a clear example of the Gas Revolution Industrial Park, Ogidigben in Delta State and the Gelegale Seaport in Edo State which have failed to kick-off despite the preparedness of foreign and local investors to invest in projects adding that enormous economic benefit were stalled by community leaders in collaboration with their allies in government  by initiating conflicts.

Dahiru Modi, consultant to AfriTAL described the current happenings in the region as a veritable conflict market. “To understand what has happened and what is happening, we have to understand that just like we have the very functional political market place in Nigeria, we have a functional conflict marketplace in the Niger Delta and like every other market, it functions on demand and supply”, he added.

“Among these conflict entrepreneurs, we have the government officials, the commissioners, the ministers, governors, presidents, on the other hand, you have the people who have money, that is investors and then the communities”.

“We have thought them to be isolated but from our research and engagement and arising from a trend analysis of the specific outcomes associated with plan investments in oil-rich communities we have come to realize that the dynamics are evolving, we realize that the actors we thought are disconnected are actually connected,” he said.

The experts, however, said that the government must recognize the existence of conflict entrepreneurs and how to checkmate their influence among other recommendations as well as ensure inclusion of women in the decision-making process at all levels in the oil and gas value chain, by incorporating them into the frameworks for conflict resolution.

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