Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region

Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region: (A Case Study Of Niger Delta Development Commission)

Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region: (A Case Study Of Niger Delta Development Commission)

LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter deals with the review of literature relating to the major and sub-themes of he study. The primary ideas are organized under the following subjects.

THE CONCEPT OF NIGER DELTA

The Niger Delta is a political construct used to describe the oil producing states of Nigeria. The Niger Delta is perceived as a geographical area that stretches from Edo State to River State and includes Ondo State.

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to

GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183

Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

Omoweh (2001:5) described the Niger Delta as a Geographical expression of oil producing communities of Nigeria which includes Abia Akwa Ibom Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and River State of Nigeria.

These States constitute the political entity of him Niger Delta. Oladipo and Eyong (2004:1-2) pointed out that the Niger Delta constitutes a unique region in the development process of Nigeria because it is the world’s third largest wetland covering a vast coastal plain of about 70,000km in the central southern part of Niger.

Nigeria derives over to percent of its foreign exchange receipts from oil exploration and exploitation in the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta despite its contributions to the economy of the country paints a vivid picture of an area with pervasive poverty environmental degradation and neglect and general under development.

The Niger Delta youth movement and militant group more often than hold the staff of the multi national oil companies in the area hostage over alleged oil spillage environmental degradation and neglect. Oil pipeline vandalization are common in the Niger delta. The conflict in the Niger Delta has led to the setting up of various commissions in the region for the development of the area.

2.2 CONTEMPORARY CONFLICT IN THE NIGERIA DELTA

Following the devastating effects of ethic militia in the Niger Delta on July 13,2004 the federal government of Nigeria deployed the military to Amadiama and Tarima communities at the suburbs of port Harcourt to control the arms conflict in the area. The deployment was made at the instance of the governor Peter Odili of River State.

The military operation was made up of the policy army, nary and air force. War broke out between the military and the Niger Delta volunteer force led by Alhaji Dokubo Asari (Okafor 2004:32).

Odi in Bayelsa State and Ogoni in River State have suffered in the hands of combined military operations of the federal government against the Niger Delta youths agitating against economic deprivation and marginalisation through violent protests.

The Dokubo and the tom vigilant group claimed marginalization by the federal government and environmental degradation of the Niger Delta by oil exploitation vandalize oil pipeline attack multinational oil companies and hold the expatriate hostage.

Okolo (2001:73) reported that oil spillage is rampant in the Niger Delta causing environmental pollution and ecological problems which affects agriculture productivity in the area.

Ubanna (2001:51) supported the above view when he stated that Imeh Okopido, the minister of state in the ministry of environment has made it compulsory of new oil and gas field to show their work programme towards the achievement of Zero flare in the Niger Delta by 2004.

In November 4, 2003, Niger Delta militant group operating in the Ofeia along the river in Bayelsa state killed six mobile policemen. In November 2003 a total of 10 policemen were killed by pirates in Bayelsa state.

On august 19 2003 three policemen were killed by sea pirates at the Bomadi/ Ekerema axis of the River Forcados ( Agbo 2003:33).

2.3 MANAGEMENT OF THE CONFLICT IN THE NIGER DELTA

Three (3) approaches have been used by the federal government in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta. These include:

1. Military combat or force

2. Social responsibility approach and;

3. Public relations tools

2.3.1 MILITARY COMBAT

According to Yusuf (2005:3) the cases of Ogoni Odi and River state paint a negative picture of mismanagement of conflict in Nigeria by political leasers. Yusuf further stressed that the conflict in the Niger Delta demands mediation and consensus with the traditional ruler’s political offices holders and the militant group of the Niger Delta.

For Duru (2003:17) the Ogoni episode was one of the greatest mistakes of our political leaders during the military era. He also pointed out that the Odi killing and combined military attack against the Dokubo group was not an ideal approach to conflict resolution in the Niger Delta both the military and the present democratic dispensation have used extra legal approaches in setting the conflict in the Niger Delta without success. This has often resulted in extra judicial killing and aggravation of the problem in the Niger Delta.

2.3.2 (1)SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY APPROACH OF SHELL

The shell petroleum development company of Nigeria (SPDC) is the largest oil and gas company in Nigeria. Shell PB is the operator of a joint venture involving the Nigeria national petroleum company (NNPC), which holds 55 percent shell 30 percent, ELF 10 percent and Agip 5 percent.

The partners fund the operations in proportion to their shareholding. Shell concentrates its operation in the Niger Delta. The company has over 6,000 kilometers of pipeline and flow lines, 87 flow stations eight gas plants and more than 1,000 producing wells. The operations of shell which are mainly in Edo, Delta Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom River, Cross Ondo and Imo State began in 1956 when the campaigns processing seismic exploration led to the discovery of oil in Oloibiri.

In contemporary time, hell produces nearly half of Nigeria’s oil and about 95 percent of its commercial gas requirements.

The activities of the company in the Niger Delta have not been easy within the past several years especially during the military dictatorship.

The Niger Delta is characterized by abject poverty and the area lacks most essential social amenities that could make life meaningful. These include portable waster health facilities school roads electricity and other infrastructure. In order to make life more meaningful, the shell petroleum development company of Niger (SPDC) got involved in social responsibility obligation to the Niger Delta as a means of creating a conducive atmosphere for a peaceful operating. This of course is a worldwide policy of the shell development company.

A great impact has been recorded in areas such as rural health care education provision of facilities and scholarship electricity supply, provision of social infrastructure and human resource development.

In Ezezi Secondary School Ughotan in Okpe local government area of delta state shell built a classroom back for the school in 1998. Today facilities were also providing. An over-head water tank was provided to give the school clean water ( Umukoro 2002:38)

At Alume, Warri, the shell built a clinic too the inhabitant in order to improve their health condition. The SPDC took active participation in the national immunization programme in the area.

The Rukpokwu water scheme which provides potable water to Ikwere of Obio Akpo local government area of river state was set up by the shell other projects included the improvement of infrastructure and provision of a general hospital Okirika the Edagberi cassave processing mill the Bori farm project and the seed yam project of koroma Tai in Ogoni-land (Ozigbe 2002:37)

On the area of capacity training and building a total of 1,540 women from over 40 communities were trained in book keeping business management; 277 women were trained in project and enterprise management and over 22 women development centers were established in the Niger Delta. Shell established the Egbokodo Itsekiri ceramic industry

2.3.3 (2) SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT TO THE NIGER DELTA

The Niger Delta region long forsaken, environmentally degraded and very poor now experience a breath taking transformation through the establishment of the Niger Delta development commission. The Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) was established by the NDDC act of 200 (FGN 2000).

It was inaugurated on December 21,2000 by president Olusegun Obasanjo. The NDDC Act spells out the commissions mandate to include the formulation of policies and strategies for developing the Niger Delta region as well as designing master plans for the physical development of he area.

Since 2001 the Niger Delta development commission has undertaken the construction or rehabilitation of 59 road, 33 bridges and erosion control projects in the Niger Delta (Egbo 2004:31,46)

The Niger Delta is a difficult terrain of swamps and swashes, road construction is not only difficult and time consuming but more expensive. In many parts of the region road construction entails sand filling up to 12 feet sometimes before road construction.

Road construction in the Niger Delta is indented to link the cities to the rural areas in order to educe rural urban migration. Among the Niger Delta development commission road project are the maintenance of the 295kilomiter Port Harcourt Warri highway which links 3 state of the Niger Delta construction of the eastern bye pass in port Harcourt, the 25 kilometers Kaimasabagriea Polaku road in Bayelsa state. Other includes the 40.6kilometre Selegu-Utagba Uzo- Obiaruku road in Delta state and the 35km oil mill Igbo Ibokocha Uumuchem-Abara-Ozuzu road river state.

Electricity had always been a problem in many communities in the Niger Delta many communities lived in darkness. The NDDC between 2001 to 2005 provided 156 electricity projects. One of the major electrification projects was that of the Ukwa West in Abia State. The project is a giant electrification scheme which serves as a warehouse or switch for other electricity project in the state.

In Ondo State, the Igbokoada Okoga electrification project was sponsored by the Niger Delta development commission. In Imo State electrification project included the Umudala project among others.

One of the striking contradictions of life in the Niger Delta is that it is basically river line but the people are in critical need of potable water. Exploration activities have polluted a lot of the region water sources. The Niger Delta development commission (NDDC) has undertaken 114 water projects in the Niger Delta between 200-2005 (Ugbockukwu 2005:34)

The NDDC has adopted a good health care delivery programme like provision of health care center medical care and provision of infrastructure. The commission has built 12 health centers and renovated 12 existing ones in the Niger Delta. It has constructed 12 support structures like doctors and nurses quarters, it renovated mine others. (Aguaria wood 2004: 40).

2.3.4 PUBLIC RELATION’S TOLLS IN MANAGEMENT OF THE CONFLICT IN THE NIGER DELTA

The federal government, the shell and the Niger Delta development commission adopted various public relations tools in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta.

Between 10th to 12th December 2001, the Niger Delta development commission help national and international workshop of the stakeholders in the oil companies to discuss possibilities for creating an enabling environment for the development of the Niger Delta region.

The conference objective includes facilitating dialogue among stake holders to generate a better understanding of development issues in the Niger Delta identifying the priority areas of development, setting up modalities for quick intervention in time of conflict policy formulation and implementation of development projects in the Niger Delta.

The political leaders of the Niger Delta religious organizations, civil society, traditional ruler’s miniseries and members of the House of representative ware in attendance in the confidence.

The conference recommenced for the implementation of the master plan of the Niger delta development commission to the core. It equally recommended for transparency and accountability of the commission to address the root cause of marginalization in the Niger Delta establishment of Niger Delta development Bank, qualitative and quantitative education of the Niger Delta among others.

On Thursday 28 and Friday 29 march 2001,t he president chief Olusegun Obasanjo Visited Bayelsa state. He apologized to the state over the fate of Odi and he promised to bring development to the people (Fashola 2001:31).

The president has made a number of visits to other states of the Niger Delta for peace and cooperation with the present political dispensation.

The leader of the militant group in river state Dokubo was recently invited by the president to Aso Rock for dialogue on how to stop the conflict in the Niger Delta.

The shell has equally invited various peace talks in the Niger Delta.

2.4 THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OIL COMPANIES AND THE NIGER DELTA

Legal relations between Nigeria government and the petroleum companies according to Schatz (1998: 77) are ruled by concessionary petroleum tax ordinance industrial financial arrangements and the granting of expatriate quota a situation that prevailed for decades.

Pearson (1996:21) supported the above view when he stressed that the Nigerian government ensured that the multi- national oil companies will train unskilled and semiskilled Nigerians and employ highly educated Nigerians. The quota policy ceased to exits in the first republic.

The federal government of Nigeria did not spell out in concert terms the responsibility of oil companies to the oil producing communities. The expatriate quota, according to Nduka (2000:18) was incomprehensive leading to conflict between the oil producing communities and the transnational oil companies.

Decree No 18 of 1968 compelled all companies operating in Nigeria to become Nigeria corporations without providing for their social responsibility to the oil producing communities or the host communities.

In the recent past the activities of he shell petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in the Niger Delta have not been all that very easy following the hostility of the Niger Delta especially in the oil producing communities. Other oil companies suffer the same fate in the Niger Delta region. The multi- national oil companies are besieged by enormous demands by their they have been marginalized over the years leading to physical confrontation with both the federal government and the multinational oil companies.

Ken Saro Wiwa founded the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) in 1990 to articulate the plight of the Ogoni people and to seek possible solution to their problems (Marine 1995:1).

Because of the self-determination of Ogoni people under the Umbrella of MOSOP, Shell Petroleum Company left Ogoni in 1993. Since then various ethnic militia have emerged in the Niger Delta region in agitation against the marginalization of the people by the federal government and subsequent environment degradation of the region coupled with economic deprivation of oil producing communities of the Niger Delta.

DISCUSSION, RECOMMENDATION AND CONCLUSION

5.1 DISCUSSION OF RESULTS FINDINGS

From the study the researcher identified the cause of the conflict in the Niger Delta such as economic deprivation marginalization of the Niger Delta, oil spillage and unemployment of the Niger Delta youths in the oil compares at management levels.

However, the empirical study shows that the major cause of the conflict in the Niger Delta is ecological degradation.

Finally have also revealed that public relations play a major role in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta. This is clearly seen in table 2.

The social responsibility of the oil company and the government include institutional development ecological protection, human resource development and giving employment to the youths.

The result of the study indicated that public relations tools used in the management of the conflict include press release and conferences dialogue with the host community as well as public opinion poll based on these public relations approach in the management of the conflict, the respondents agreed at 100% response rate that public relations plays a major role in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta.

The review of relevant literature and from the analysis of data it reveals that various public relations tools like films publications press release special events public opinion among others have been used in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta. The degree of effectiveness of these public relations tools in achieving the set goals was subjected to empirical test.

Ninety seven respondents or 85 percent of the sample said that the public relations tools are very efficient while twenty three respondents representing 15 percent said that are efficient. None of the respondents said that the tools were not efficient.

Therefore public relation is a vital aid in the management of conflict.

5.2 CONCLUSION

This work has showed that public relations have really been effective tools in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta region.

Over the years there has been alarming conflict in the Niger Delta which was as a result of ecological degradation lack of social responsibilities by the oil company, unemployment of the youths of the area by the oil companies among other. But with the use of public relations tolls such s press conference public opinion poll dialogues the conflict has been reduced drastically.

The government and the oil companies in the area should not relent in the area of social responsibilities and should avoid ecological degradation which is the major cause of conflict and also they should try to identify the wants and needs of the people in the area and solve them to an extent that is possible in order to avoid further conflict.

5.3 RECOMMENDATIONS

The following recommendations are made based on the findings of the study.

1) Oil spillage environment pollution and ecological degradation of the Niger Delta region should be avoided.

2) Public opinion poll should be conducted by the oil company and the government (the three tiers-federal state and local) in order to know and address the needs and wants of the Niger Delta.

3) The people of the Niger Delta should be given adequate employment in the multinational oil companies at a management level.

4) The oil companies operating in the Niger Delta should liase with the government on how to dialogue with the Niger Delta (using public relations as the major tool)

5) The use of force should not be used the management of the conflict

5.4 SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY

The following suggestions are made for further study.

1) The role of the presidential task force (PTF) on the management o the conflict in the Niger Delta should be investigated.

2) Subsequent researchers should investigate the recommendation of the international conference 2001 on the development of the Niger Delta.

3) Future researchers should evaluate the public relations tools adopted by international quarters in the management of the conflict in the Niger Delta.

Public Relations As A Tool For Conflict Management In The Niger Delta Region: (A Case Study Of Niger Delta Development Commission)

To place an order for the Complete Project Material, pay N5,000 to

GTBank (Guaranty Trust Bank)
Account Name – Chudi-Oji Chukwuka
Account No – 0044157183

Then text the name of the Project topic, email address and your names to 08060565721.  

Speak Your Mind

*