Human Development and Capability Frame-Work for Marginalized Oil Producing Communities: A Case Study of Niger Delta Region in Nigeria

Okinono, Otega (2014). 'Human Development and Capability Frame-Work for Marginalized Oil Producing Communities: A Case Study of Niger Delta Region in Nigeria' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, 2-5 September 2014, Athens, Greece.


The discovery of oil in Oloibiri village Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta made Nigeria to join the rank of oil producers in 1958. This region provides over 80% of Nigeria's Government revenue and 95% of foreign exchange earnings. Furthermore, the Niger Delta swamps and creeks account for over 70% of the Nation's oil output. Consequently, the region ought to be experiencing economic prosperity, social stability, human and infrastructure development similar to Saudi Arabia and Algeria where special attention are given to oil producing communities. However, the discovery of oil made the traditional occupation of people in the Niger Delta gradually became precarious due to oil spillage and government laxity to regulate oil companies' activities. The prospecting for oil in this region has increasingly made live more difficult for the natives where their sources of livelihood have been take over. This unresponsive attitude of Nigeria government has led to condition of poverty and underdevelopment particularly among the oil producing communities. Although, there have been many intervention programmes and number of special agencies created by the Federal and State Governments to address development in the region. Willinks' Commission which was set up in 1957 to Niger Delta Ministry in 2005; all these have the responsibility to formulate and coordinate policies for the development and security of the region. These bodies are meant to create a socially, economically, politically, ecologically stable and peaceful environment within the region. However, these agencies failed woefully to impact on the lives of the people due to corruption, cross-current of military and partisan politics, mismanagement, lack of funds and most importantly the employment of wrong approach in solving the problem of the region (Jack-Akhigbe, 2013).

Similarly, UNDP report (2013) on human development index put the region at 0.433 whereas other oil producing communities in Gabon, Libya and Malaysia were put at 0.668, 0.791, and 0.791 respectively. Also, Eneh (2011) highlighted that the region has a low rate of youth literacy and secondary education on access to school compare with the South-West where there is no oil deposit. While Niger Delta has 87.9 percent on youth literacy and 70.3 percent on secondary education access to school, the South-West has 94.7 percent and 87.5 percent respectively. Likewise the Niger Delta Environmental Survey report of 2010 observed that there is only 1 primary school to 3,700 people which serves 3 or more communities. The ratio of secondary school was put at 1 to 14, 679 people which is 1 school to 8 or more communities. Although recently government has put in some efforts to enliven the lives of the people especially in the area of education through vocational and non-vocational training within and outside the country but despite this much-vaunted efforts by Government most of those trained are still found settling back in the creeks as a result of unemployment (Ubhenin, 2013). The failure of this training indicates that human development is achievable when it is all encompassing. Therefore, it is appropriate to conduct further research on how the lives of people within the oil producing communities of Niger Delta can be improved by employing human development and capability. The study will focus on developing a suitable framework to achieve economic and social developments for marginalized oil communities.



Related Work

Human development defines the process by which a society appropriates the natural demography to its advantage for development (Nussbaum, 2001). It depicts that the negligence of the teeming population without giving proper attention will lead to underdevelopment. In the vast literature, there are many frameworks that address human development and capability approach on marginalized and poor people (Fukuda‐Parr, 2011; Gries & Naudé, 2011; Sen, 2005). However, very few works focus on the marginalization among the oil producing communities. Although, Chinyere and Stephen (2013), Gilbert (2013), Naanen (2012) Ukiwo (2011), Courson (2011) and Oluwaniyi (2010) have research on the marginalization of the Niger Delta, nevertheless none of these research explicitly profound human development and capability approach as a solution to the crises of the region. Therefore, this study aims to explore how human development and individual capability approach can be employed to achieve community transformation in the Niger Delta particularly the oil producing communities of the region. The study will focus on the policies and activities of Nigeria government to create both economical and infrastructural developments in the region through NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) and Ministry of Niger Delta.




This study will utilise qualitative approach for data collection using in-depth face-to-face interview because the research is exploratory in nature.  Four oil producing communities will be selected using stratified sampling method from the four core oil producing communities of Rivers, Bayesa, Delta and Akwa Ibom states. The rationale behind the selection will be based on NDDC ranking like geographical terrain, deposit of oil and population of the communities. Purposive sampling technique will be used to select each community's respondent. In order to gather a holistic human development perspective of the region, community heads, woman leader, youth leader and traditional rulers will be selected as study respondents.



At the end of this study there will be two major contributions. First the study will contribute  a framework that can be used to enhance human development and capability building to achieve positive community transformation within oil producing communities not only in the Niger Delta but globally. Secondly, the outcome action plan will be useful to Nigeria Government, non-governmental agencies and intervention agencies especially the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Most importantly, the study will create awareness not only to the Niger Delta indigenes but also the general public of the relevance of human development to sustainability in community development.

Key Words: Human Development, Capability, Marginalization, Niger- Delta


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