By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The poor and slow pace of oil and gas investments in the Niger Delta has been traced to corruption and conflicts in the region.
Industry experts and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, arrived at the conclusion at a study by African Initiative for Transparency, Accountability and Responsible Leadership, AfriTal.
The study, which was presented in a documentary in Abuja was entitled, “Time for Collective Action Against Conflict and Corruption in the Oil-Rich Niger Delta.”
According to the study, “Conflict entrepreneurs” deliberately create conflicts within and among oil and gas communities for personal interests, and to the detriment of the people of the region.
The lead presenter of the study, Dr. Zibima Tubodenyefa, Lecturer, Niger Delta University, a key consultant to the project, said the conflict entrepreneurs randomly activate violence against planned investments with a view to taking advantage of both investors and host communities.
He said: “We realised that what this conflict entrepreneurs do mostly and very effectively is to stoke legacy issues, ethnic issues, land disputes among others, apart from using the instrument of ignorance against the people for their personal advantage.
“We realised that they have information and they control information around these investments very well, so what they let out is oftentimes half-truth or a misrepresentation of the facts. They stoke sentiments and people act. They become key stakeholders when it gets to a point of negotiations.”
The “conflict entrepreneurs,” he said, included politicians, government officials, self-acclaimed community leaders, amongst others.
According to the don, government must recognise the existence of conflict entrepreneurs and come up with measures to checkmate their activities.
The documentary screening was sponsored by Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria, FOSTER.