Lambert Edigin and I. Emmanuel Okonmah

Department of Political Science & Public Administration, University of Benin, Nigeria                                                                                                               



The Niger Delta has been a centre of intense conflicts and violence. These conflicts and violence have necessitated the setting up of various intervention bodies to remedy the situation. These bodies include Niger Delta Development Board (1958), the Oil Minerals Producing and Development Commission (1992), the Niger Delta Development Commission (2000) and the most recent, Ministry of Niger Delta (2008). In spite of these measures, violence is on the increase coupled with the taking and use of hostages as a means of negotiation. It is in this direction that this paper seeks to investigate why the development efforts have not translated or impacted much on the lives of the rural people in the region. This paper asked a fundamental question of; what is responsible for the development crisis in the region? The exposed answer is that, the problems that besieged the Niger Delta intervention agencies since 1961 of Niger Delta Development Board through OMPADEC to the present NDDC, was ill-managed by inefficient administrators whose primary interest in the entire efforts were to divert funds for personal use. Different views posited also that, from the conception and execution of development projects in the region, the federal government under successive administrations had adopted same pattern of development strategy that excluded the intended beneficiaries of the development. Real or imagined, the consequence is the feeling of deprivation and alienation which is still pervasive in the region.


Keywords: Mystifying, development, strategy, mistakes



The Niger Delta is an important sub-region in the Nigerian Federation. Since the colonial days, the region has always presented one problem or the other. The Henry Willinks Commission set up in 1958 identified the region as being poor, backward and neglected. This was the Federal Government’s first reaction to the problem of the minority which it canvassed. The recommendation of this commission was that, special attention should be devoted to developing the Niger Delta, but did not satisfy the yearnings of the people.


The discovery of oil in 1956 and its subsequent exploration created other problems of ecological degradation and pollution through gas burning, among others. The Federal government’s second reaction was to establish the Niger Delta Development Board in 1961 to take care of these problems. The impact of this board was little felt. The special provision for enhanced derivation to revenue allocation was also made to provide additional revenue for the development of the area. But during the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon, up to the 1982 Revenue Act implemented by the Shagari’s led government, gave 1.5% special fund (as derivation benefit) to develop oil producing areas. The entire revenue allocation formula was modified by General Buhari’s administration in 1984 via Decree 36, which reduced government share of oil revenue from 80% to 55%. 32.5 percent went to States and 10% to local governments (Sanya, 2006). Due to poor resource governance, no meaningful development could take place. This led to the agitation for resource control that late Isaac Adaka Boro and Kenure Saro-Wiwa laid their lives for. Unfortunately, all conscious efforts towards the direction of redress were met with repression from the Federal government.



Problems of development in the niger delta

The discovery of the “black gold” (crude oil) in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in the mid-1950s by Shell (then SHELL D’Archy) had been a source of curse rather than blessing to the people. The continued exploration of the crude oil and its production in commercial quantities for export, have affected the rural peoples’ conditions of living.  As posited by some activists, the lives of the people have turned into a harbinger of misery, poverty and anguish (Fayemi et al, 2005). According to Edosomwan (2006), these problems are  associated with regular oil spills, gas flaring by oil companies, inadequate compensations for damaged crops and land in the areas,  no good hospitals, pipe-borne water, good learning facilities in schools, on modern road networks in the areas; no meaningful youth capacity building opportunities in terms of skill training and engagements (Amaize, 2006).


Therefore, Niger Delta struggles have been centered primarily on environmental degradation, over-exploitation and security problems. According to the Niger Delta Environmental Survey 2002, most Niger Delta villages and communities lack good roads, potable drinking water, and electricity supply even when they are near flow stations or tank farms, and health care system is still very low. The fight to correct these ills brought losses of many heroes and potential leaders.



Fiscal federalism in Nigeria

The principle of federalism by its operational value is cooperation and understanding as a political system processor. The three tiers of government must interact with each other at various points of national developments through consultation and cooperation. To Enaruna (2005:228) revenue allocation is one of the problems of Nigerian government and administrations in terms of funding projects and programmes due to high political content which bothers generally on acceptable revenue allocation formula in favour of Niger Delta region. As a framework of analysis, fiscal federalism significantly attempts here to explain the post-independent revenue allocation formula adopted in Nigeria as represented in the table below.



                                                Table 1

Post-independent revenue allocation formula recommended in nigeria  


















Aboyade Commission








Okigbo Commission








Revenue Allocation Act








Pre-Supreme Court – Legal Decrees/Law


Pre-April 2002






Pre-Supreme Court - RFMAC Proposal


August 2001






Supreme Court Ruling


April 2002






Post-Supreme Court - Executive Order # 1


May 2002






Post-Supreme Court - Executive Order # 2


July 2002






Post-Supreme Court - RFMAC Proposal


January 2003





 Thursday, March 4, 2008


Before the Aboyade’s Commission of 1977 as presented in the table, there was the Raisman Commission of 1958. However, from the Aboyade Technical Committee of 1977 which recommended three percent (3%) and Okigbo’s Commission recommended seven percent (7%) special funds for the development of the Niger Delta areas respectively. Notably in 1981 under the administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, the National Assembly reduced the special funds to 4.5% which was increased to 7.5% in 2001under the Pre-Supreme Court Legal Law, the funds were not released accordingly to the interventionist agency responsible for the development of the region. The Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which was established in 1992 by the military regime of President (General) Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) has not found its fit in recommending a federalist revenue formula that can promote development in the oil producing areas of the Niger Delta. This is contrary to Buchanan’s (1950:586) position on the features of creating a “balance” between the contributions made by region and the value of the public services referred to the region (the oil producing areas). Buchanan further explained that, under fiscal federalism, an individual (here representing Niger Delta state) is subject to the influence of the fiscal operations of three levels of government. This he suggested will promote the efficiency in resource allocation.  Resource Allocation to Nagel Stuart (1992) as cited in Joseph E. Imhalahimi (1998:27) is, the allocation of resources to all the activities (which includes all round development projects and programmes of the government) and places or units (oil producing areas in the Niger Delta) in the social formation, with a view to harnessing and equalizing the marginal rate return of oil production and exploration that is taking place in the region. J.E. Imhalahimi thus contributed that, an understanding from the above contextual definition reveals that the theory of resources allocation is a budgetary process involving many interests and group of actors (majorly the Federal government on policy plans). Absolutely, equal recognition with other needs without any special preference or marginalization is necessary.

The mystification of development processes in the niger delta areas

The Niger Delta has a history of non-performing government institutions. Attempts by the Federal Government to address the problems of the Niger Delta date back to the formation of the Niger Delta Development Board in 1958 with the mandate to develop the region, funded with a 15% revenue contribution from the Federal Government. This was replaced in 1993 by the Oil Minerals Producing and Development Commission (OMPADEC). However, OMPADEC was scraped in 1999 for failure to achieve its development objectives.    In the past, State and Local Governments have also been unable to implement sustainable solutions to the region's poverty. This failure was due in part to corruption, poor governance and lack of accountability. Communities, the supposed beneficiaries of the oil revenue allocations back to the region, have had little or no influence on the use or management of these funds. Clearly, the resources that have been made available for the development of the region in the past have not been used effectively. According to President Obasanjo, “the Niger Delta Development Commission was inaugurated to ensure a principled, coordinated and focused approach to addressing the peculiarities of the region. Here Akpofure et al (2000) contended that, not one of the administrations had deemed it fit to abolish obnoxious laws and decrees such as the Land Use Decree, the Petroleum Act of 1969, Mineral Act of 1948, Land and Title Vesting Decree 52 of 1991, the National Inland Waterways Authority of 1997, and other such draconian legislation that denies the people of Niger-Delta the right to own, enjoy and have the right of exploiting and utilizing all the resources found on its area/ancestral lands.

                                    Table 2

 Missing amenities which influenced youth restiveness in the niger delta areas


No Tarred

Roads, Bridges, Electricity etc.


No good Schools & study facilities



No Good

Hospitals, Water, etc


Total Percentage










The Guardian
















Source: Okonmah (2009) Youth Restiveness in the Niger Delta.


The table above expresses the absences of basic infrastructure necessary for daily living in the Niger Delta region with a cumulative percentage of 82.66% (Vanguard) to 17.34% (The Guardian) as sampled from the two daily newspapers. The contribution of Oberabor (2008:25) generally is that, a sick person in any of the riverine areas of the Niger Delta areas travels by canoe for hours to receive medical attention in urban centres because of the absence of a nearby medical facility. Unfortunately, their neighbours in the creeks who are privileged to work in the oil firms are usually flown by helicopters and other light aircrafts to the best hospitals in the land and at other times to overseas (Anoaba, 2007). Based on the foregoing, the Executive Governor of Bayelsa-Timipre Sylva, had blamed the problem of militancy in the troubled Niger Delta on the absence of infrastructural development (Oyadongha, 2008:11).



The above situations which have attracted various dimensions of hostility in the region and loss of revenue to the federal government, Ulayi (2007:8) observed that, the federal government had identified under-development and lack of infrastructure as the biggest cause of insecurity in the Niger Delta region. The expectation of many is that, when the federal government makes a prompt implementation of the Niger Delta master plan and sincere commitment to the execution of projects, Sara-Igbe (2007:45) agreed that the provision of infrastructures will stop Niger Delta crisis.


Development policies without developments

From 1961 to 2000, different boards or commissions were constituted to look into the "problems” of the Niger-Delta people and nothing substantive reflects such policy plans.

Niger-delta development board (NDDB 1961-1972) was established by Section 14 of the 1960 Constitution to provide physical development for the Niger Delta Region. This section enjoined among other provisions essentially that,

1.         There shall be for the Niger Delta, a Board which shall be styled the Niger Delta       Development Board; and

2.         The Niger Delta Development Board shall be responsible for advising the government of the Federation of Nigeria and the government of then Western Nigeria and Eastern Nigeria, with respect to the physical development of the Niger Delta, and in order to discharge that responsibility the Board shall -

(a)        Cause the Niger Delta to be surveyed in order to ascertain what measures are required to promote its physical development;

(b)        Prepare schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta together with estimates of the costs of putting such schemes into effects;

(c)        Submit to the government of the Federation and the government of then Western Nigeria and Eastern Nigeria an initial report describing the survey of the Niger Delta and the measures that appears to the board to be desirable in order to promote the physical development thereof (Omoweh, 2004).


In 1961, the Federal Parliament enacted the Niger Delta Development Board Act of 1961 to comply with Section 14 of the 1960 Constitution. The board however could not provide any meaningful development for the Niger Delta Region because of lack of political will and commitment. The Federal Military Government then and which was dominated by the Hausa and Yoruba ethnic groups after the 1966 coup nationalized every aspect of the national economy and political life in Nigeria. The autonomy of the regions was consequently taken away by military Decrees. For example, Decree No 9 of 1971 repealed Section 140(6) of the 1963 Constitution which ceded oil revenue from the region to the continental shelf which formed the background of litigation on onshore/offshore dichotomy between the South-South Governors and the Federal government. The UNDP (2006) report on the Niger Delta Development Board did show that the commission was set up for a purpose but bothered itself only with some scanty surveys and researches. Some excuses were that, subject to the first military overthrow and the emergent of the Nigerian civil war in 1967, the efforts of the board became a farce.

Niger-delta river basin development authority (NDBDA 1972-1983) was established to replace the defunct Niger Delta Development Board, and was bedeviled with administrative and political scheming. Alamieyeseigha (2004) had pointed out that, the 1979 to 1983 disbursements to River Basin Development Authority showed real disgust of the various governments had for Niger-Delta development projects. The same structure and pattern of operation of the defunct NDDB board was maintained with little management swooping of staff. Few rice-mill factories were set up by late Mike Okiro in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State (formally under Rivers State). In short while, this effort turned a failed project as it lacked maintenance.

Oil minerals producing areas development commission (OMPADEC 1992-2000) was established by the military government of General Ibrahim Babangida under Decree No 23 of 1992. The purpose and mandate to the commission was to address the years of neglect of the Niger Delta region. Section 2 of the Decree No 23 states the following objectives that the Commission shall:

a.         receive and administer the monthly sums from the allocation of the Federation Account in accordance with confirmed ratio of oil production in each state for the rehabilitation and development of all mineral producing areas, so as to tackle the ecological problems that have arisen from the exploration of oil minerals;

b.         determine and identify, through the commission and the respective oil mineral producing states, the actual oil mineral- producing areas and embark on the development of projects properly agreed upon with the local communities of the oil mineral-producing areas;

c.         consult with the relevant federal and state government authorities on the control  and effective methods of tackling the problems of oil pollution and spillages;

d.         liaise with the various oil companies on matters of pollution control;

e.         obtain from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation the proper formula for actual oil mineral production of each state, local government area and distribution of projects, services and employment of personnel in accordance with recognized percentage production;

f.          consult with the federal government through the presidency, the state, local governments and oil mineral - producing communities regarding projects, services and all other requirements relating to the special fund (derivation revenue);

g.         render annual returns to the President, Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and copy the state and local governments on all matters relating to the special fund;

h.         advice the federal, state and local governments on all matters relating to the special fund;

i.          liaise with the oil-producing companies regarding the proper number, location and other relevant data regarding oil mineral - producing areas; and

j.          execute other works and perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission, is geared towards the development of the oil mineral -producing areas.

In compliment, Section 4a(2) of the Allocation of Revenue (Federation Account) (Amendment Act No 106 of 1992) provided that, three percent (3%) of the federation account derived from mineral revenue be paid to the commission and shall be used for the rehabilitation and development of the oil mineral-producing areas on the basis of the ratio of the oil produced in the particular areas, and not on the basis of dichotomy of on-shore or off-shore oil production (Adebayo 2006:9).                                    Like its predecessors, OMPADEC consequently failed to promote development of the Niger Delta Region. Both on the spot assessment reports and literature provided that, abandoned and incomplete projects of OMPADEC were a common feature in the region until Niger Delta Development Commission inherited them in 2000.  The excuse given by the Commission’s Chairman, Horsfall was that, the financial sabotage of the commission took three different forms to wit: short funding of the commission in terms of its legally entitled funds, manipulations of its funds and withholding of its monthly allocations, 18 roads during my tenure as follows: Rivers State -3 Roads; Delta State - 9 Roads;  Akwa-Ibom State - 2 Roads, and Imo State- 4 Roads (The Guardian   2000:6).


Many observers saw the establishment of OMPADEC as a huge fraud and was criticized of corruption, over politicization and mismanagement of funds, re-organizations and restructurings, all in the name to provide the people of the Niger-Delta with their needs and aspirations. Mr. Terry Noah, former Director-General of Delta State Labour Agency saw OMPADEC’s organization and its activities as a disaster in terms of quality, number and location of projects it executed while it existed because, the considerations and interests surrounding project execution and policies by the commission were highly political and selfish (Adefaye, 2008:6).


Consequent upon the above lapses and other related cases of insincerity, the then Head of State-General Abdulsalami Abubakar announced that it had suspended the release of funds to the commission. General Abdulsalami Abubakar justified the suspension when he said: "the suspension would be in force until the commission satisfactorily accounts for the previous allocations made to it" (Adesina 2001:51).        


Niger-delta development commission (NDDC, 2000-2008):

In 2000, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo submitted to the National Assembly a Bill for an Act to provide for the repeal of the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission Decree 23 of 1992. Among other things, the President’s goal was to establish a new commission with a reorganized management and administrative structure for more effective use of the special funds it will receive from the federation account to tackle ecological and other related problems arising from the exploration of oil minerals in the Niger Delta areas. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act was subsequently passed into law in 2000 that established the Commission. Section 7 of the Act 2000 provides that: The commission shall -

a.         formulate policies and guidelines for the development of the Niger Delta area;

b.         conceive, plan and implement (in accordance with set rules and regulations) projects and programmes for sustainable transformation of the areas including roads, jetties and waterways, health, education, employment, industrialization, agriculture and fisheries, housing and urban development, water supply, electricity and telecommunication;

c.         cause the Niger Delta areas to be surveyed in order to ascertain measures which are necessary to promote its physical and socio-economic developments;

d.         prepare master plans and schemes designed to promote the physical development of the Niger Delta areas and the estimates of the costs of implementing such master plans and schemes;

e.         implement all the measures approved for the development of the Niger Delta areas by the Federal Government and the member- states of the commission;

f.          identify factors inhibiting the development of Niger Delta area and assist the member-states in the formulation and implementation of policies to ensure sound and efficient management of the resources of the Niger Delta.

g.         assess and report on any project funded and carried out in the Niger Delta areas by oil and gas producing companies or any other company including non-governmental organizations, and ensure that funds released for such projects are properly utilized to tackle ecological and environmental problems that aroused from exploration of oil mineral in the Niger Delta areas and advise the Federal Government and member states on the prevention and control of oil spillages, gas flaring and environmental pollutions;

h.         liaise with the various oil mineral and gas prospecting and producing companies on all matters of pollution prevention and control; and

j.          execute such other works and perform such other functions which, in the opinion of the commission, required for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta area and its people.



Though, the Niger Delta River Basin Development Authority was established in 1976 by the Obasanjo regime (then) as military Head of State for same development purposes, the entire programme failed in objectives based on similar features of corruption and unseriousness among the board members like the Niger Delta development Board. Also in June 1992, the led government of General Ibrahim Babangida (Rtd), established another special development agency called the Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC). OMPADEC also failed from its overall assessments, because it was bogged down by serial corruption and ineptitude. Although some projects were excuted as detailed in chapter two, OMPADEC was later replaced with the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in 2000 under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.


Though many governments have not been sincere in addressing the problems in the oil-producing areas, yet the little the government has done towards alleviating the sufferings of the people in these areas, failed with a particular reference to OMPADEC. This may have aroused by lack of commitment, inadequate funding, mismanagement of funds, over politicization of policies and appointments, lack of clear focus on the part of the government and its agencies. Literature exposed that, each development agency set up for Niger-Delta areas ended up as nothing more than an avenue to fat some pockets at the expense of the region. What is of utmost essential is that, eminently qualified and tested technocrat (not politician) with proven professionalism in project delivery and public works management. Somebody who has a thorough appreciation of the problems to be addressed and the correct level of transparent commitment, level-headedness and morally stable in administration is required to serve all interest groups fairly and without bias. The strong political will on the part of federal government to transform the region with sustainable development programmes is required.




Adebayo Waheed (2006). Ozekhome Supports Resource Control. Vanguard March 5, Lagos, Nigeria


Adefaye Gbenga (2008).  Legislator Decries Poverty Scheme in Niger Delta. Vanguard

Tuesday 15, Lagos, Nigeria P.14


Adefaye Gbenga (2008).  Contractors Appeal for Government’s Intervention. Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard Wednesday March 5,  P.11

Adesina Debo (2001).  Niger Delta Development Commission To Complete OMPADEC Projects. Lagos, Nigeria The Guardian June 26 P. 6


Akpofure, E.A., M.L. Efere and P. Ayawei,, (2000).  The Adverse Effects of Crude Oil Spills in the Niger Delta. Urhobo Historical Society.


Alamieyeseigha, DSP (2004). The Niger Delta & Youth Restiveness: The Way Forward.

Environmental Watch, November 15, Abuja Nigeria


Amaize Emma (2006).  A Foray In The Creeks; A Landscape Of Eyesores.  Saturday

Vanguard, March 18, Lagos Nigeria


Anaba Innocent (2007). Infrastructural developments will Curtail Niger Delta Crisis.

Vanguard Wednesday. September 5, Lagos, Nigeria P.45


Anabs Sara-Igbe (2007). Provision of Infrastructures will Stop Niger Delta Crisis.

Vanguard Wednesday September 5, Lagos, Nigeria. P45


Buchanan, James M. (1950).  Federalism And Fiscal Equity; American Economic review Vol. Xl September


Carl Frederick (1975).  Political Decision Making, Public Policy and Planning.

Boston, Holbrook Press Inc.


Edosomwan, C (2006).  Niger Delta Will Continue To Boil Unless… ThisDay  March 2;



Edosa, Enaruna (2005).  The Dilema Of Revenue Sharing & Intergovernmental Fiscal

Relations In Nigeria; In Orobalor, E. Ifowodo, F. & Edosa, E (Eds.), Federal

State & Resource Control In Nigeria; F. Parker Publishing Co. Benin City



Fayemi Kayode, Stella Amadi and Ololade Bamidele (2005) Towards an Integrated Development of the Niger Delta. Centre for Democracy & Development, Lagos, Nigeria


Ikelegbe Augustine (1994).  Public Policy Making and Analysis. Benin City, Nigeria.

Uri Publishing Limited


Imhanlahimhin, J.E (2000).Development Administration in the Less Developed

Countries.Amfitop Books, Lagos


Ira Sharkansky & Davis Van Meter (1975).  Policy and Politics in American Governments. New York, McGraw Hill Books Company Limited


Leichter Howard (1979).  A Comparative Approach to Public Policy Analysis: Health-Care Delivery in Four Nations. Cambridge, University Press


Oberabor Michael (2008).   Niger Delta: A Fading Hope. The Guardian Outlook, Sunday June 29, Lagos, Nigeria P.25.


Okonmah, I, Emmanuel  (2009)    Youth Restiveness and Federal Government Policy in

the Niger Delta Areas. Ph.D Dissertation Submitted to School of Post-Graduate Studies, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Benin.


Omoweh, D (2004) Shell Petroleum Development Company, the State and Underdevelopment of the Development of the Niger Delta of Nigeria: A Study in Environmental Degradation. Trenton, Africa World Press


Oyadongha Samuel (2008).  Clamour for Soldiers Withdrawal: Senator, Monarchs Clash.Sunday Vanguard April 17, Lagos, Nigeria. P9.


Melville, A.R (2003).  Rapid Rural Appraisal: Its Role in Health Planning in Developing

Countries. Tropical Doctor, 235


Mlekwa Victor (1976). Policy and Practices in Adult Education. A District Case-Study.Vol. 1, No. 2; Pp. 149-165.


Negel Staut S. (1992).  Conflicting Evaluation of Policy Studies. In Imhalanhimi J.E. (1998) The Interface Between Functional and Control Aspects of Administrative Responsibility, Benin Journal of Social Sciences vol. 6 & 7, Numbers 1 & 2 (Publisher unknown) Benin City, Nigeria.


Natziger Wayne (2008). Nigeria’s Economic Development and Niger Delta Grievances. Conference paper on the Nigerian State, oil industry and the Niger Delta. Port Harcourt , Harey Publications Company


Parsons Wayne (1995) Public Policy: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of

Policy Analysis. Edward Elgar, United kingdom


Sanya, O. (2006) slow Death in the Niger Delta. Africa Review of Books., 10/07/2008


The Guardian  (2008) NDDC in Action: Roads, Jetties and Water Schemes.  Lagos, June 25, P.47.The Guardian   (2000).  OMPADEC, A Disaster- Says Delta Labour Agency Boss. Vanguard November 15, Lagos, Nigeria P 6.


Timi Alaibe (2007).  How We will Transform Niger Delta: TheNews August 13, Lagos,

Nigeria. P23.


Todaro, M.P & S.C Smith (2003).  Economic Development.  Pearson Education Pte. Ltd, Singapore


Ulayi Emmanuel (2007).  Lack of Infrastructure, Bane of Niger Delta Development-Federal Government Vanguard Tuesday September 18, Lagos, Nigeria P.8.


Umoru Henry (2007).  Federal Government to spend N20 Trillion in the Niger Delta. Vanguard Wednesday, May 23, Lagos, Nigeria P.8.


United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2006).  Niger Delta Human Development Report. UNDP Abuja Thursday, March 4, 2008