The Niger Delta basin is considered Nigeria’s economic lifeline. But it also has a lot of challenges that it has to overcome. The social and environmental problems in the Nigerian State vary and oil multinationals and the oil-bearing communities can be very influential and easily manipulate the politics of the nation. The gap between rich and poor people is glaring and it contributes to the slow development of the nation. It further causes violence and conflict within the region.In the State of the Nation Brief on Niger Delta Problems, several areas for improvement were enumerated (http://changenigeriaproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83:state-of-the-nation-brief-niger-delta-problems&catid=48:niger-delta):
1. Decrease Pollution of the waters that killed fish and destroyed the breeding habitat of aquatic animals.
2. Find ways of solving the indigene/settler issues
3. Address Security issues
4. Address productivity issues: Employment and retention of should be based on productivity. Redundancy should be stamped out
5. Create Productive Employment and provide conducive environment for productive business.
6. Reduce the gap between the poor and the rich, especially, with regards to ill-acquired wealth.
7. Address the Anger of the Youth:
a. No Job
b. Neglected social issues
i. No Electricity
ii. No Drinking Water
iii. No HealthCare
iv. No Food
c. State Governments’ efforts are too little. State must be made to be responsible and Accountable for State Development
One wonders why a nation with such a rich oil and gas reserves continues to experience problems with even the most basic needs of its people such as food and water. Is it the leadership? Corruption? Greed? There is undoubtedly a strong and urgent need for government to revisit its priorities and find viable solutions to prevent conflicts triggered by the dire situation and impoverished state of many of its people. The conflicts – be it political, economic or social, can be associated with the absence or deprivation of basic human needs. As such, violence becomes a common escape to justify the citizens’ state of helplessness and desperation in being unable to make their lives better.
Is there really a way to overcome the impoverished state of millions of its people and gross social and economic inequalities? Not without good governance. Not without a sincere desire from its leaders to uplift the present social and economic strife facing its people.
It is critical that sustainability is achieved within each basic unit of society. Only then can the issues of poverty, education, political, economic and social justice be addressed. Only then can Niger Delta’s millions of people have a better chance of living better lives, its children getting a better chance at education, and the region able to move forward and achieve better stability.
Niger Delta’s children deserve a good future. THEY are the FUTURE.
By Lylin Aguas