Reseña: «High Stakes and Stakeholders: oil conflict and security in Nigeria», de Kenneth Omeje

Posted on 2010/07/09


KENNETH OMEJE, High Stakes and Stakeholders: oil conflict and security in Nigeria. Aldershot, Hampshire and Burlington, VT: Ashgate (hb 55.00 [pounds sterling]–0754647277). 2006, 218 pp.

The oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria has recently been thrust onto the front burner of public discourse on oil conflict in Africa and its implications for general security. Conflict in the region has revolved around contestations and claims between the Niger Delta indigenes on the one hand, and the Nigerian state and the oil firms on the other. It is in the above light that Kenneth Omeje’s work becomes both timely and topical. The text focuses on how to tackle the oil conflict in order to enhance security and subsequent social progress in the Niger Delta region and Nigeria at large. He locates the conflict within the realm of Nigeria’s complex rentier political economy and from this vantage point highlights the disparate and interlocking roles of the different stakeholders in the oil conflict and its security dimensions.

The departure point is that the hitherto accepted primacy of the interests of transnational oil companies (TNOCs) in Nigeria’s oil politics can no longer be supported by evidence. Therefore the text attempts a deconstruction of the popular notion of collaboration between the government and the TNOCs. These form the basis of the author’s rethink of ‘conventional wisdom and misconceptions’ of the oil conflict. In adopting the rentier perspective, he makes a critical distinction between Nigeria’s rentier state framework and that of other oil-producing or rentier states in the Arab world. He sees the difference as basically lodged in ethno-cultural and demographic disparities between the Arab states and Nigeria. A very interesting contribution of the work is that it embodies a courageous effort at analysing the roles of the three parties in the conflict, and from this angle examines their orientations towards security in the region. His analytical desegregation of the attitudes of different TNOCs to the issues in the conflict is most refreshing.

The author also argues that ethnic militarism and petro-violence in the Niger Delta are not entirely protests against environmental degradation, as others have argued, but also a form of rentier accumulation through desperate and opportunistic mechanisms. He rather hastily contends that the original Niger Delta activists were motivated by genuine concerns but that the ‘process has since acquired a logic and momentum of its own with large sections of the protagonists hustling and jostling for rentier dividends on high stakes’. Hence he sees a number of oil protests, even by vociferous sections of civil society, as calculated blackmail to secure and advance rentier accumulation. In this way, the insecurity becomes a process of weakening structures in order to attain egocentric interests.

COPYRIGHT 2007 Edinburgh University Press