Date of Submission
Doctor of Philosophy in International Conflict Management (Ph.D. INCM)
Dr. A. G. Akanmu
Dr. Charity Butcher
Dr. Brandon Lundy
In the last seventeen years, several high level government officials in Nigeria have faced corruption charges totaling $22 trillion dollars related to oil revenues. In Bayelsa State, a Nigerian state that produces oil, officials have been marked with high level corruption in oil revenue. In particular, the state faces constant conflicts among the government, multinational oil corporations, and the people of the state. Based on these observations, this dissertation seeks to understand the relationship between corruption in oil revenue redistribution and perpetuation of conflicts in Bayelsa State of Nigeria.
Bayelsa State is one of the nine states in Nigeria’s Niger Delta with abundant crude oil deposits. Oil revenues, which constitute the bulk of Nigerian government revenue, are collected by the federal government and shared among the states of the federation. Since 1996 when Bayelsa State was created, the federal government has allocated to the state a 13% derivation, of excess crude, and statutory allocations share of oil revenues, worth billions of dollars. These allocations are constantly disputed by many local stakeholders of the oil and non-oil producing states. This large amount of petrol-dollars has had little effect on the pervasive unemployment, poverty, environmental degradation, and violent conflicts in the Niger Delta and specifically in Bayelsa State. The state witnesses continued conflicts.
I argue that people’s perceptions of corruption create and/or perpetuate conflicts in Bayelsa State. Based on Collier and Hoeffler’s (2005) greed and grievances theory, those who redistribute accruals from oil revenues channel public funds for their private gains (greed) rather than serving the public interests for which they were elected or appointed. I also argue that anti-corruption laws and institutions do not prevent conflict in Bayelsa State. The study’s methodology included interviews of Bayelsans, focus group discussions, and participant observation in oil-bearing and oil-impacted communities in the state, bureaucrats, multinational corporation officials, and politicians in Bayelsa State. The transcripts of these interviews were coded and content analyzed to determine dominant patterns and themes. I found that corruption has created and/or perpetuated a host of conflicts including intra- and inter-community conflicts, conflicts between militants and the government’s military task force, and conflicts between host communities and multinational oil corporations. The majority of citizens who feel deprived of their benefits from oil revenues voiced their dissatisfaction (grievance) with the way oil revenues were redistributed to favor very few Bayelsans. I also found that the perceived forms of corruption weakened anti-corruption laws and institutions thus rendering them ineffective in preventing violent conflicts in Bayelsa State.
Based on the findings, I put forward some policy recommendations such as amending existing laws to include life ban on convicted corrupt officials, professionalizing anti-corruption agencies, and restricting the president from unilaterally determining the dismissal of chairpersons of EFCC and ICPC. If these recommendations are adopted, they will curb corruption, strengthen laws and institutions, improve the life of the people, and reduce violent conflicts in Bayelsa State.