Participation In Petroleum Development …Towards Sustainable Community Development In The Niger Delta


Continued from last Wednesday May 19, 2010.


The book “Participation in Petroleum Development, Towards Sustainable community Development in the Niger Delta” by Eseme-Alabo Dr. Edward Bristol-Alagbariya is essential for key oil industry experts, administrators, scholars and students who wants to gain further insight on how the Niger Delta can benefit from oil exploration and exploitation. The Tide, beginning from this edition, run excerpts of the book. Enjoy it.


The adverse consequences of extractive industrial operations (ie, petroleum and other mining and mineral resources development operations) on the environment in resources-rich local communities and the welfare of the people of these communities in developing countries continue to attract interest across the globe. The author points out how the enormous but largely mismanaged wealth, derived from these operations in such countries, plays a key role in generating crises. He discusses how these crises, heightened by youth restiveness, in the Nigerian Delta region became so serious in the 1990s that they began to trigger the rise of crude oil prices in international markets as well as generate other negative consequences. These include insecurity of supply of Nigeria’s petroleum resources to its consumer nations, and the insecurity of lives and property, especially the lives of expatriate personnel of multinational oil companies and citizens of the region, as well as the Federal Government’s petroleum development Joint Venture assets in the region. Based on these and other identified imperatives, the author makes a scholarly contribution to the resolution of these protracted and devastating crises on the platform of the ongoing worldwide participation explosion (ie, citizens’ or public participation in environmental decision making, otherwise known as environmental democracy).

From the level of nation states of the world at the United Nations, to various international, national and local community levels, the participation of those adversely affected by extractive industrial operations is being advocated. Participation of stakeholders in the decision-making process of extractive industrial operations is being advocated to achieve environmentally-sound and socially-equitable sustainable development in the overall interest of mankind. On the strength of various standards, toolkits and other models and references provided, the author indicates that environmental democracy is an idea whose time has come in Nigeria in relation to petroleum development. It is on this premise that the author anchors his discussion on sustainable community development in the Delta region and Nigeria’s other oil-producing areas, without disregarding the interests of other major stakeholders of the petroleum development business and overall public good in Nigeria. 

I therefore recommend this book to academics on natural resources law and policy, and to planners, policy makers, statesmen and government officials in Nigeria and beyond. It deserves the attention of all Nigerians in the effort towards sustainable community development in the oil-producing areas, as well as transparency and accountability in governance associated with petroleum development in the country. For Nigerians and all parties with an interest in this area, this book is a pioneering study of significant practical relevance to the stimulation of environmental democracy in natural resources development projects in a developing nation.

Professor Peter Cameron, FCIArb.

(Professor of International Energy Law & Policy, CEPMLP and Director of Research at the Postgraduate School, University of Dundee), June 2009.


This book discusses environmental democracy (ie, public or citizens’ participation [PP] in environmental decision making) with regard to petroleum development in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN). Community involvement (CI) is discussed as an aspect of PP so as to examine the role of corporate responsibility and impact assessment regarding petroleum development in the Niger Delta. It is on this note that sustainable community development (SCD) featured as a key issue, considering that sustainable development (SD) cannot be achieved in Nigeria and other nations without the existence of sustainable communities. The destiny of mankind is thus dependent on the well-being of man’s immediate environment and place of habitation such as communities, cities, and provinces comprising global nations.    

PP (also referred to as public involvement [PI]) presupposes that members of the public affected by a decision have the right to be involved in the making of such a decision. PI is thus defined as a problem-solving process which uses public input in decision making, while environmental democracy is defined as an aspect of PI regarding development proposals capable of impacting adversely on the environment and SD. The degree of PI in environmental decision making is required to be participatory (ie, interactive) in order to properly incorporate the views and concerns of the affected, concerned and interested public into the decision-making process. 

The goal of PP expressed by the leading international civil society organisation on participation – the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), referred to in Chapter 1, provides that participation includes the promise that the involvement of (ie, the views and concerns expressed by) the public will influence the decision. Participation promotes sustainable decisions by recognising and communicating the needs and interests of all participants, including decision-makers. It generates and enhances the involvement of those potentially affected by, interested in or concerned about decisions. Participation seeks input from participants in designing how they participate. It provides participants with information which they need to participate in a meaningful way. PP communicates to participants how their input affects decisions. Consequently, based on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992, as elaborated in the Aarhus Convention of 1998, on access to information, PP in decision making and access to justice in environmental matters, the author demonstrates that PP (ie, interactive PI) can enhance or generate environmentally-sound and socially-equitable SCD in the course of petroleum development in the Niger Delta. 

Petroleum resources have, for the last four decades, been the economic mainstay of the FRN. The resources development operations commenced in the Niger Delta (ie, the Delta ethnic minority region of the Federation) in 1956. Shortly after the start of these operations, citizens of the Delta region, the main producers of the resources, started protesting about the adverse effects of the operations on the environment in the region and their welfare. These protests became serious from the 1990s, as the problems of the citizens of the region heightened by the adverse effects of petroleum development, are neither fully nor satisfactorily being addressed by the Federal Government (FG), other levels of government and the multinational oil companies (MNOCs) operating in the region. Citizens of the Delta region feel estranged, due to such factors as unitary rule, lack of transparency and accountability in governance, inequitable laws and practices, and weak policies, guidelines and regulations governing petroleum development in the Federation. Their protests, expressed in the form of incessant community crises, aggravated by youth restiveness, are articulated through the resource-control movement which has become a binding force in the region.

Protracted community crises in the Delta region, which have caused the fall of Nigeria’s oil-production rate and certain previous increases in global oil prices, have several negative effects. They hinder the smooth development of petroleum resources, and security of supply to Nigeria’s consumer-nations. These crises endanger lives and property (ie, the lives of local citizens, expatriate personnel of the MNOCs and the Federal Government’s [FG’s] petroleum development joint venture [JV] assets) in the region’s communities. Insecurity of lives posed by frequent hostage-taking of expatriates of the MNOCs and local citizens, especially infants and the elderly in the region, has generated public outcry condemning hostage-taking as a crime against humanity. The resource-control movement thus seeks to address the protracted community crises by advocating improved CI in the decision-making process of petroleum development, to enhance the protection of the environment and thereby generate sound and equitable SD in the region.

To be continued