DEMOCRACY AND THE POLITICS OF RESOURCE CONTROL IN BAYELSA STATE
The Niger Delta question represents one of the most intractable sources of political destabilization, constitutes a profound threat to national security, and economic development of the Nigerian state. Therefore, the study of the intricate dynamics among multinational oil corporations, the Nigerian state, and insurgent militias illuminates the root causes, society schisms and the political economy of resource induced conflict in Africa’s major oil producing nation state. This case study illustrates and explicates the “paradox of plenty” the “resource curse”, the “shadow state syndrome”, and the debilitating effects of petroleum politics in Nigeria. Economic exploitation of the region’s vast crude oil reserves by multinational corporations and government authorities is juxtaposed with the specter of environmental devastation, excruciating poverty, and recurrent rule of impunity. National elite contestations concerning the legalities of resource control, internecine squabble over revenue allocation formulae and derivation principles have been compounded by incessant disruptions of crude oil pipelines, necessitating drastic reduction in the country’s petroleum output and revenues derived from the global economy. The study investigates the level of the politics of Resource Control under the democratic dispensation in Nigeria. This study centres on democracy and the politics of Resource Control in the Niger Delta Region. It used Bayelsa State as a focus point. A research work of this nature is inevitable viewing the strategic position the region (Niger Delta) occupies in the nation’s economy. Nigeria’s major source of revenue is oil mineral exploration. And oil exploration accounts for over 80% of the total nation’s wealth. It is very clear that oil mineral resources are explored or exploited in the minority Niger Delta Region. Consequently, the Nigeria’s economy rests largely on Bayelsa State and the Niger Delta Region in general. Over the years, since oil exploration started in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta in 1956, there has been an extreme politics on the allocation orf the financial and material resources gotten from the oil wealth. Inspite of the colossal barrels of crude oil exploited in the region, there have been successive manipulations of the oil derivation percentage which has been allowed to decline to the bottom, different government policies or laws governing the oil industry, the perceived marginalization, deprivation, underdevelopment of Bayelsa state and the Niger Delta region informed the agitation for a fair share of the oil wealth by the Niger Delta people where Bayelsans are front liners, and as well as the agitation for resource control. Following the marginalization of the region over five decades of oil exploration in the region, these agitations transcend to the Niger Delta crisis that has today attracted both the attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the International Community. All these and many other factors amount to the oil politics in the Niger Delta. Infact, the scramble for the management and control of the oil resources by both the government and the oil producing communities is the pivot of oil politics in the Niger Delta. This research therefore investigates the extent democratic governance has favoured or positively impacted on the development of Bayelsa State vis-a-vis the oil politics in the State. The research investigation also tried to examine whether there is a significant relationship between oil exploitation in Bayelsa state and the underdevelopment in the state. A study on the impact of democracy on the development of Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta is very significant since democracy is synonymous with development. At the end of this research investigation, viable and positive solutions were proffered or suggested as veritable means of bringing peace and development in Bayelsa State and the region in general since the importance of a peaceful atmosphere in Bayelsa State and the entire Niger Delta cannot be down-played in the nation’s economy. Since democracy respects the opinion of the majority and as well as the rights of the minority, the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria in 1999 gave room for the intensified agitation for resource control by the people of Bayelsa state and the entire Niger Delta at large. The study therefore explicates the impacts of resource control and democracy on the development of Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta.