Nigeria: A Prime Example of the Resource Curse? Revisiting the Oil-Violence Link in the Niger Delta
This paper studies the oil-violence link in the Niger Delta, systematically taking into consideration domestic and international contextual factors. The case study, which focuses on explaining the increase in violence since the second half of the 1990s, confirms the differentiated interplay of resource-specific and non-resource-specific causal factors. With regard to the key contextual conditions responsible for violence, the results underline the basic relevance of cultural cleavages and political-institutional and socioeconomic weakness that existed even before the beginning of the “oil era.” Oil has indirectly boosted the risk of violent conflicts through a further distortion of the national economy. Moreover, the transition to democratic rule in 1999 decisively increased the opportunities for violent struggle, in a twofold manner: firstly, through the easing of political repression and, secondly, through the spread of armed youth groups, which have been fostered by corrupt politicians. These incidents imply that violence in the Niger Delta is increasingly driven by the autonomous dynamics of an economy of violence: the involvement of security forces, politicians and (international) businessmen in illegal oil theft helps to explain the perpetuation of the violent conflicts at a low level of intensity.
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