Survey on Women and Livelihoods in the Niger Delta: An Overview of Women’s Economic Activities in Oil Producing Communities in Akwa Bom, Bayelsa and Riverstates

The economic crisis in the Niger Delta has been accentuated by increased exploitation of oil and gas resources occasioned by the search of the Nigerian state for greater revenues and the multinational oil companies‟ quest for higher profits. The consequence has been disastrous as the area continues to suffer massive pollution of land, water, flora and fauna, which has decimated the resources on which inhabitants of the region survive. Productive land has been taken up by exploration and pipeline network and destroyed by frequent oil spillage. The rivers and streams have been polluted. The result has been prolonged economic crisis epitomized by aggravation of poverty, unemployment and hunger all of which fueled an environment of anger, bitterness, frustration, tension and conflicts. Nigeria‟s return to democracy in 1999 brought with it hopes and challenges of nation building. It also generated a lot of despair across the country as ethnic militias sprang up capitalizing on liberalization of the political space to demand for equity and fairness in governance. It is against this backdrop a number of ethnic and regional pressure groups have emerged in the Niger Delta to demand for better deals from multinational oil companies operating in the area, and resource control from the federal government. In context, several militant youth groups sprang up, while existing non- militant groups established militant wings to fight perceived state violence and brutality thereby give militant muscle to the demand for resource control. This development has been explained as corollary of Nigeria‟s march away from military dictatorship. The emergence of ethnic militia who claim to promote the interest of their people has escalated violence as Kidnappings, killings, vandalization of oil pipelines, bunkering and organized criminal activities flourish in the area.