Violent conflict is a recurring denominator of national life in Nigeria. This is exemplified by the recurrence of sectarian conflicts of violent dimension across the regions of the country, particularly since the return to civil rule in 1999. The Niger Delta is one of the regions of the country that has been particularly notorious for violent conflict. This is often rationalized on the struggles of the ethnic groups in the region to either exclusively appropriate or have a fair access to the appropriation of the natural resource in their homelands. The Niger Delta conflict does not only pose a major challenge to the state in Nigeria but also has serious international significance. This is not only because of Nigeria’s position in Africa but also because of the disruptive impact of the conflict on the exploitation of her oil resources which are critical to the survival and stability of Western economies and the Nigerian state, particularly in the era of the American war against terrorism. Thus, the Niger Delta region which hosts Nigeria’s oil and gas resources provides a classical illustration of violent conflict emanating from natural resource endowment. This has also brought about the formulation and reformulation of identities for political negotiation of the appropriation of national wealth. Consequently, the region, more than any other, comes into prominence in any serious discourse of identity politics, natural resource and conflict in post-civil war Nigeria. This paper thus interrogates the nexus between natural resource, identity politics and violent conflict in Nigeria. The findings reveal a positive correlation among the configuring variables. It concludes that Nigeria’s elites’ preoccupation with primitive accumulation is culpable for the protraction and degeneration of the Niger Delta question into violent conflict. Finally, it makes recommendations for the resolution of the conflict.
Key words: Natural resource, resource control, identity politics, violent conflict.
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