A look at the proposed new army division for the Niger Delta

New Army division to be established in Niger Delta
January 7, 2014
Nigeria destroys 1, 951 illegal oil refineries, arrests 1, 857 in 2013
January 20, 2014

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria, the largest oil producing region in Africa and the eighth largest producer in the world accounts for about 98% of Nigeria’s crude oil production, has made the Niger Delta region the main revenue-generating region in the country. However, with about 45 million people with over 40 ethnic groups, it remains one of the least developed regions in the world. One of the major problems combating the Niger Delta is oil theft and militancy, which became popular in 2006. Successive governments have tried their best to curb this menace by adopting various military strategies in the oil rich region.

Recent report says that a new army division for the region will soon be instituted by the Federal Government of Nigeria (see: New Army division to be established in the Niger Delta). Last week, the Commanding Officer of 29 Battalion of the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, Olusegun Oladuntoye, revealed that the Nigerian Army is adopting a new strategy to combat oil theft and illegal oil refinery in the region.

With this development, the need to take a deep look at the pros and cons of how this new division will affect the region is needed, taking into consideration the needs and objectives of the various stakeholders in the region. We have conducted a quick desktop analysis of the situation and share our initial findings below.                                                                       

An un-biased and objective outlook on the new army division includes the following analysis:

New Army Division for the Niger Delta

Positive Impact

Item

Notes

Improved Security This would help in safe guarding lives and properties of all stakeholders (indigenes and foreigners) in the region. People will feel more comfortable to move around the region without the fear of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry. 

 

Safe Guarding Investments In the last few years, more than $50 million have been poured in to the region for development activities.  A lot of these projects end up being either vandalized or not completed.  A new army division will help promote and secure investments in the region that will impact the growth of small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) – a lack of fear that development activities and projects will not be abandoned. 
Better Investments More companies would begin to invest in the region, knowing what they invest would remain without fear of vandalism and they can build on existing projects, and thus continue the further development of the region.

 

Measurable Development Projects and infrastructures would be completed and their post-implementation development can be measured.

NEGATIVE IMPACT

Fear The presence of military personnel on the streets can have both a positive and negative affect on communities.  People may take comfort knowing that crime and other unwanted behavior/activity will be stopped or reduced, while on the other hand, others may feel unease and conclude that their community is under a state of emergency.
Business as usual Is this proposed new army division all “talk”? Deep cynicism with communities and stakeholders means that a “wait and see” attitude has been adopted. 
Sustainability of project For the new army division to be truly effective, coordination efforts with local actors and other stakeholders that include consensus building around needs and challenges will need to be done. Of deep concern includes the potential for abuse and corruption of the new army division that will lead to destabilization the region.

 

There are indeed big hopes for this new army division, with the benefits clearly outweighing the challenges. As this project progresses, we will be sure to keep you updated along the way. We encourage you to get engaged by sharing your thoughts on this matter and sharing this information with your networks.

 

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