Controversy generated by oil minority rights and agitations in the Niger Delta is as old as the Nigerian State. On the eve of Nigeria’s independence, even before the exploitation of oil commenced in the Niger Delta, a colonial government commission of enquiry, the Willink Commission of 1957/1958, acknowledged its peculiar developmental needs and thus recommended a developmental board. The Niger Delta Development Board (NDDB) that was consequently established by the Tafawa Balewa administration in 1961, which hardly made an impact before the chaotic political situation culminating in the 1967 to 1970 civil war which finally truncated the prospects of its success. About three decades later, on account of serious discontent over growing conditions of socio-economic and political deprivations, agitations by the Niger Delta peoples turned militant, violent and ultimately degenerated into an armed struggle that threatened the stability and progress of the country. Various Nigerian administrations responded to the challenge through an admixture of legal/constitutional, coercive, as well as pacifist strategies. However, fifty years after independence, the festering conflict in the Delta alongside its critical national consequences is just beginning to elicit signs of abating. This paper argues that the Niger Delta conflict remains intractable, largely as a result of the half-hearted and uncomprehensive nature of the conflict resolution and management initiatives of government, both at the Federal and State levels. The work seeks to examine the nature, scope and impact of the various official conflict management approaches in the region. The study concludes that only an enduring institutional approach can provide a durable panacea for the Niger Delta conflict.
Key words: Nigerian State, oil minorities, revenue allocation, derivation formula, militants.
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