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Minority Rights Issues in Nigeria: A Theoretical Analysis of Historical and Contemporary Conflicts in the Oil-Rich Niger Delta Region

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Nigeria's delta region was famous for its role in the trade and supply of palm-oil to the then industrialising world. Thereafter, its high quality crude-oil made it a significant player in the global oil market. However, the region has become (in)famous for the spate of violent conflicts that threaten both local and international economic stability and security. This paper highlights the correlations between these two eras, the parties and fundamental causes of the violent conflicts that beset the area. It argues that the underlying factor for restiveness in both periods is the exclusion of the local communities from participating in the exploitation and benefits of the resources. The paper theorises the causes of conflicts during the two periods based on social justice concepts of distribution and recognition. It suggests that the actualisation of normative elements of distribution and recognition that quelled the first of these conflicts has a fundamental role to play in resolving the multifarious conflicts that currently pervade the Niger Delta region. Consequently, it suggests that initiatives that recognise public participation in the crude-oil industry be extended to resolve the present conflicts.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Law, University of Hull, Hull, UK; 2: Kola Fitzpatrick and Co. Solicitors, London, UK; University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK


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