Charles UKEJE (2008) - Oiling Regional Insecurity? The Implications of the Niger Delta Crisis for Security and Stability in the Gulf of Guinea and West Africa
Since ‘Oil Policy in the Gulf of Guinea: Security and Conflict, Economic Growth and Social Development’ (Traub-Merz and Yates, 2004), the regional complexities and implications of the deepening crisis in Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region has drawn lesser attention in scholarship. This paper argues that the dangerous twist of events in Nigeria’s delta- notably the June 2008 surprise attack on Shell-operated Bonga offshore oil platform located deep into the Atlantic Ocean- has turned the Gulf of Guinea straddled between West and Central Africa into a putative security quandary.
To grasp the diverse regional ramifications of insurgency activities in the Niger Delta, the paper interrogates the following questions: In what different ways, is the delta insurgency driving the militarisation and securitisation of the Niger Delta, Gulf of Guinea and West Africa? What would the ongoing attempts toward greater integration of West Africa into a transnational and globalised security arrangement by key western countries portend for national and regional security? As the epicentre of world oil production shift to weak and unstable developing countries in the region, and elsewhere across Africa, how might this shift affect the security needs and concerns of countries in the Gulf of Guinea? In the specific case of the oil producing countries within the Gulf of Guinea that are currently experiencing varying degrees of governance failures and regimes instability, how is the Niger Delta crisis compound their domestic security problems? How might they, individually and collectively, pursue their security needs with/out excessive external manipulations and considerations? What role, if any, should ECOWAS (and other pan-Africa organisations) play in addressing the far-reaching security concerns arising from growing insurgency in the Niger Delta?