Perspective: Big Oil, Rural Poverty, and Environmental Degradation in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria

Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
  • Aaron, Kiikpoye K.


The Niger Delta region of Nigeria is richly endowed with both renewable and non-renewable natural resources. It contains 20 billion of Africa's proven 66 billion barrels of oil reserves and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves. Oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta account for over 85% of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), over 95% of the national budget, and over 80% of the nation's wealth. Paradoxically, the Niger Delta remains the poorest region, due largely to the ecologically unfriendly exploitation of oil and gas and state policies that expropriate the indigenous peoples of the Niger Delta of their rights to these natural resources. The ecological devastation occasioned by the activities of oil transnational corporations (TNCs) have rendered farming and fishing useless, previously the main occupations of these rural people. The people of the Niger Delta are deprived of their share of the wealth on which the entire nation depends; they “benefit” only from compensation for incidents of oil pollution. At the same time, occurrences of oil spills in the Niger Delta region have increased. In this article, it is argued that the ecologically unfriendly activities of oil TNCs, and the state's petroleum development policies, lead to poverty in the Niger Delta, and poverty in turn leads to environmental degradation. It is the dynamics of this interconnectedness that we wish to explore.

Full article can be found in: Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health
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