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Youth Restiveness, Militancy and the Intractable Problems of the Niger  Delta, By Austin Emaduku - News & Analysis


This study was carried out to investigate youth restiveness and amnesty program in Warri Metropolitan, Delta State. Amnesty Programme was set up by the federal government of Nigeria under president Umaru Yar‟adua administration to address many years of conflict that characterized the Niger Region. In its formulation, the programme has three core focuses which are Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration. This work focuses on the rehabilitation and Reintegration part of the programme with a specific attention on training, job creation and constructive engagement. This research therefore examines the performance of the programme in these three areas. The significance of this study is that it brings to fore through am empirical study the actual impact of the amnesty programme on the peace process in the Niger Delta. The study employed both the Conflict Transformation and Incremental theory; the former to explain the nature of conflict in the study area, the latter to explain the amnesty programme as a public policy built on several previous policies in that region. Three instruments were employed to derive the data for this study namely; in-depth interview; structured and unstructured questionnaires; as well as documented materials on the programme as well as the conflict. The study was able to establish that greed, pollution, resource control, infrastructural deficits, unemployment, poverty, marginalization, corruption, economic exploitation, are all causes of the Niger Delta conflict, also the research found out that the amnesty programme has trained several ex-militants in various areas such as vocational training, training in science and technology as well as in the humanities both within and outside the country however only few of them had received job after this training. This research further reveals that the level of infrastructural development is poor and constructive engagement is lacking. The research hence recommends that this programme be broaden to accommodate other victims of environmental degradation suffered in the Niger Delta because restricting the programme to only ex-militant only maginalises others who had also being affected but had not taken up arms. Also, the government should make frantic efforts to provide job opportunities for those that had being trained so as to prevent them being drawn into taking arms again.




1.1 Background to the Study

Young people all over the world are a vital and important segment of the society in which they live. A disciplined, focused, and law-abiding youth can create a bright future for any nation. Youth restiveness in Nigeria has been a prominent issue in recent times. There has been an increase in the occurrence of acts of violence and lawlessness, including things like hostage-taking of prominent citizens and expatriate oil workers, as well as oil bunkering, arms insurgence, cultism, etc., especially in the Niger Delta region. Nevertheless, youth restiveness is not a recent phenomenon. Various forms of youth restiveness that are economically, politically, or religiously motivated have existed for a long time (Elegbeleye, 2005). Youth restiveness has been a device used by the youth to get what they want from the relevant authority. Chika and Onyene (2010) asserted that youth resistance to conditions, issues and unwelcomed leadership regimes dates back to 1934 when Herbert Macaulay floated a political party to kick against dependency with fellow elite youths that had contact with the West. In addition, political parties like the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC), the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), the Action Group (AG), has their youth wings as vibrant as the other parties.

The people of the Niger delta in Nigeria are historically known for their enterprising nature as indicated by their artistry in canoe making, fishing, peasant farming, as well as trading. It is a home to Nigeria’s oil and gas resources. It is also the wealthiest region in West Africa. The Niger Delta is the source of about 90% of Nigeria’s export earnings(Okonta,2002). It is one of the largest wetland in the world after the Pant Anal in South America and Mississippi, in North America. It has a land area of 112,110 sq.kms, 20,000 sq.kms of natural deltaic plain and population of 31.2million people made up of about 40 different ethnic groups who speak 250 languages and dialects(Ikein, 1990). It comprises nine States and 185 local Governments Areas. Oil was first discovered in commercial quantity in 1958 by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Oloibiri. The Multi-National Oil Companies (MNOCs) operating in the region, especially, SPDC, Texaco-chevron, and Nigeria Agip Oil Company limited, indulged in degrading the environment by polluting the air, rivers and surrounding lands in a manner not found in other oil and gas producing regions of the world (Ikein, 1990)

The region contains the largest oil deposits in Africa and one of the highest quality oil in the world. Its oil resources, unprecedented economic and geo-strategic significance and contribution are without question the mainstay of the Nigerian economy (Ikein, 1990). The region generated 600 billion US dollars from oil exports between 1956 and 2002 (Okonta, 2002) yet the region is home to some of the poorest people in the world.

The enactment of laws by the Nigerian State including the Oil Pipe lines Act of 1956 and the Federal Environmental Protection Act of 1988 are designed to support the Federal Government

Ex-militants threaten attack over alleged planned to scrap Amnesty Program

Investments with the MNOCs making it possible for only minority to benefit from the resources. By these laws the oil bearing communities are prevented from participating actively in the oil and gas industry. Meanwhile, their lands and rivers are polluted by oil spills, acid rain and gas flaring.

Consequent to this, the traditional occupation of the people, which is agriculture and fishing has continued to suffer. This continued unabated and by 1975, the Oil Producing Communities (OPCs) had lost their traditional occupations and means of livelihood and all the same failed to gain from the oil and gas industry(Okonta 2002).

The region has been a hotbed of conflict for many decades between the Niger Delta Militants and the Nigerian Government on one hand and multinational oil companies on the other hand. The major reasons for the militant aggression are socio-economic deprivations and denial of resource control. The activities of the militant groups have, indeed, affected the Nigerian economy and caused considerable losses to foreign investors as well as adversely affecting the international energy market. Over 1 million bpd was being lost per day as of May 2009, SPDC force majeure 0.25m bpd the country was losing about 8.7b($58m) daily (estimate as at May 2009). In 2008, over $20bn was lost as a result of the conflict. NLNG lost over $2b which is 53% of installed capacity in 2009. About 1000 people lost their lives in 2008 and 128 people were kidnapped between January 2008 and January 2009. The East West Road abandoned for 2years, Michelin closed business and sacked 1500 in Niger Delta, Julius Berger/ Wilbur‟s pull out of ND and sacked workers, SMEs fled Niger Delta, critical oil and gas pipelines infrastructure breached and marine War Risk insurance: over $90m p.a premium charged for cargo into Nigeria (Federal Government of Nigeria Niger Delta Amnesty Programme,April 2015).

Despite all of these, the ex-militants are still threatening to return to violence because according to them the government has not met all their demands. It is in line with this that this research is set out to assess the viability of the Amnesty Programme in bringing about a sustainable peace in the Niger-Delta with a focus on how the programme blueprint had faired.

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Recent media reports and personal observations indicates cases of armed conflicts, killings, wanton destruction of lives and properties kidnappings, lootings, pipeline destructions among others in most Nigerian States. The issue of insecurity in the country is upper most concern to the Nigerian government and religious leaders. Recently, Federal and State legislators were killed in cold blood in Plateau State. Churches have been bombed in Niger, Plateau and Kogi States. For insecurity to be seen not to be religious, mosques have also suffered similar faiths in Borno and Kano States. One wonders who the perpetrators of these evil acts are. Security reports show that most of those involved in these acts. In spite of the loftiness of the amnesty programme and the success of the programme in terms of Demobilisation and Demilitarisation, there still seems to be problems with the Rehabilitation and re-integration aspect of the DDR as ex-militants are often reported of threatening to return to violence against the state as their needs are not yet fully met.

The question which this study intends to answer is, how does the operation of the Amnesty programme impact on sustainable peace in the Niger-Delta.

Governors responsible for youth restiveness in Niger Delta, ex-militant  leaders allege | The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World NewsNigeria  — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

1.3 Research Questions

  1. What are the causes of the Niger delta conflict?
  • How has the amnesty programme performed in the areas of training and job creation
  • What impact has the programme had on the peace process in the area?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The primary aim of this study was to examine Youth Restiveness and amnesty Program in warri metropolitan, delta state. The study intend to investigate the following sub-objective:

  1. To investigate the multifaceted causes of the Niger Delta conflict.
  • Assess the performance of the amnesty programme in the areas of concern which are training and job creation.
  • To find out the impact the programme has in building a sustainable peace in the area.

1.5 Research Proposition

The research raises the following propositions:

  1. The Niger Delta conflict is caused by economic, political and social factors
  • The amnesty programme has not performed optimally in its areas of focus
  • The amnesty programme has had a negative impact on the general peace process in the Niger Delta
$1bn: IYC calls on Buhari to implement N/Delta development master plan |  Tribune Online

1.6Justification of the Study

The Niger Delta militancy issue has been of serious concern to policy makers, scholars, business persons, the international community among other sector of the human life this is owing to the longevity of the problem which started as far back as 1966 as well as the trillions that had been lost to the conflict. Hence a study into programmes that are aimed at providing sustainable peace in the area such as the amnesty programme is a very important exercise. Scholars like Ikein (1990), Okonta (2002), have written on the causes and effects of the militancy in the Niger Delta; scholars like Ekpu (2007) and Etekpe (2007) have written on programmes including amnesty programme aimed at stopping the militancy.

However, no in-depth empirical study has been done to assess the performance of the amnesty programme especially as it relates to the rehabilitation and reintegration part of the DDR this is the gap that this research sets out to fill. The research is therefore significant in that it will:


  1. i.                    Espouse the role that has been played so far by the programme.
  1. Establish the actual performance of the programme vis-à-vis its set out aim and objectives.
  1. Bring to the fore the impact of the programme on the peace process in the Niger Delta and examine if the process can lead to a sustainable peace in the area.

1.7 Scope and Limitation

This study assesses the Nigerian government amnesty programme in the Niger Delta region with a view to examine how the programme had fared in the areas of implementation and how that has impacted on the peace process in the Niger Delta region. Although the Niger Delta region is a wide area, the study is limited to Bayelsa state which is used as a case study.

The research faced certain limitations. First limitation is that of the terrain of the study area. The area of study is largely riverine thereby creating difficulties for the researcher to assess each area selected for the study. However, the researcher made use of assistants that are conversant with the terrain to carry out the research in such area.

Another problem was that it was quite expensive paying for a research assistant, however the researcher made use of a research assistant to carry out investigation in some of the areas chosen for study.



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