Vandalization of Oil Pipelines in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria and Poverty: An Overview

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INTRODUCTION

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa and the elevent largest producer in the World, the main stay of Nigeria economy is the petroluem sector.

The Niger Delta region has an area of over twenty eight thousand square kilometers, the Niger Delta area has as part of its features, and meandering waterways. A large part of the area consists of salt water swamp parts of the fresh water further inland have limited agricultural possibilities, the region derived the name (Niger Delta) from being situated at the mouth of the River, Niger, which could be traced back to early 15th century. Comprising the people of the region are the Ijaws (who form the largest ethnic group in the areas, the Itsekiri, Urohobos, Efiks, Ibibios and other smaller ethnic groups.

Before the creation of the Nigerian state, economic activities of the Niger Delta in pre-colonial days entailed mainly export of salt and fish to its hinterlands. In the 18th century, when slave trade was at its peak, the region was West Africa's largest slave exporting area, and this was enhanced by its nearness to the sea. Slave dealers, however, diverted the palm oil trade in the 19th century when slave trade declined.

The colonial era gave birth to Nigeria, with the Niger Delta situated at the Southern-Eastern part of the country. As at 1975, three states were under the region namely Rivers, Bendel, and Cross River states, with two Igbp states, Anambra and Imo as the hinterland following the creation of more states and a redefinition of the areas to be included in the Niger Delta states were Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers state.

Origin

Petroleum came from the Greek word petra that is from rock and also from the latin word oleum that is oil. crude oil is a natural liquid that consist of a complex mixture of hydro carbon of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compound that are found in geologic formation beneath the earths surface.

Petroluim is used in manufacturing a wide variety of materials and it is estimated that the world consume about 88 million barrels of petroluim daily. The use of fossil fuel such as petroluim can have a negative impact on the earth biosphere as a releasing pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air and damaging ecosystems through events such as oil spills.

Discovery of Oil

Discovering crude oil in Oloibiri (in present day Bayelsa state) in 1956 brought a new phase of life to the people of Niger Delta. Oil was, subsequently, soon discovered in other parts of the region like Isoko and Warri in Delta and Eket in Akwa Ibom state. In the wake of the discovery, the region attracted foreign investors and economic advancement of the country. Currently, about 2 million barrels per day of Nigeria's total crude oil output is produced from the Niger Delta.

Though the discovery has brought a great deal of prosperity to Nigeria's economy, the benefit of the production and exploitation of oil have remained elusive to Niger Deltas whose land the oil is found. Development of the area since it started pumping wealth into the nation has not been much. The rural areas remain, till date, very much backward and underdeveloped. Besides, the sparse development in some of the areas was mainly for the companies' own interest, and was never intended to make life better for the people. Reaping the county of this very expensive resources are the foreign multinational oil business dealers-shell, Mobil, ELF, Agip. Texaco, chevron and their contractor companies but even at that, they do not appear to appreciate their host communities, it is troubling to note the high number of unemployed qualified applicants from the region; oil companies operating in the area have not extended employment opportunities to indigenes who are assigned to such menial tasks like cleaning up spills. While wallowing in nothingness and poverty, environment hazards also pose many dangers to the existence of the people. …