THE OIL WAR IN NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA. An Analysis over the Niger Delta Conflict and the Country’s Media Presentation of the Conflict
Abstract: The Niger Delta in Nigeria has suffered from more than 7000 oil spills since 1970. Niger Delta communities have lost their basic human needs, health, access to food and clean water and the ability to work. The Niger Delta is today one of the “most fragile ecosystems and the most endangered delta in the world”. In the last decade, the Niger Delta has been overwhelmed by militant activities. Today, it is mainly an issue of having local resistance, violent and non violent, against state institutions and oil corporations. Academics refer to this conflict as an “oil war”. There is a broad consensus that this issue is rooted in grievance regarding the unequal distribution of wealth from oil business and the lack of inclusiveness in the decision-making process regarding oil production. In addition, local people complain over the government’s lack of interest in responding to the crisis. The predominant frames in which this conflict is discussed in literature are: corporate behavior, government behavior, local activity and the legal system. Main problems discussed within these frames are unequal share of oil wealth, lack of shared decision-making, lack of government interest in developing welfare facilities in Niger Delta, lack of human and social rights, environmental degradation and exploitation. Solutions discussed in previous literature claim transparency, social welfare programmes, diplomacy and restorative justice as the best alternatives to solve the issue. Framing theory suggests that the choices people make is influenced by the way something is presented; therefore, the aim of this paper is to explore how Nigerian media present the main actors in the Niger Delta crisis within the last year. Results from this media analysis show that Nigerian media do discuss the Niger Delta crisis in similar frames as the literature in the field do. There are, however, major differences in the way media presents the main actors, the causes for and solutions to the conflict in Niger Delta. The “gap” discovered when analyzing the literature discussion and the media presentation tells us that media is a key player in this conflict and this is a vital factor to consider in the creation of potential conflict management approaches.
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