Conflict entrepreneurs aiding exodus of investors in Niger Delta – but AfriTAL steps in with MCRIA

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Investors especially in the oil and gas sector have continued to flee or even abandon multi-billion dollar projects in the oil region due to corruption-fueled conflicts. This is because persons suspected to be ‘Conflict Entrepreneurs’ have become the rulers of most host communities, and they have acquired followers. Conflict resolution experts now ponder over which option to apply; to fight them or stop others from joining them?

Now, a non-profit group, AfriTAL, says the situation requires urgent action to save the region and its oil. AfriTAL’s Dr Brown Ogbeifun wants to identify stakeholders that can work together and reduce the influence of ‘conflict entrepreneurs’ so that investors could return and make the region attractive again. To achieve this, the organization has launched series of workshops in the region and Lagos for civil society and media partners on ‘Strategies for Reducing Corruption that Fuels Conflict in Oil and Gas Sector and on the Use of the Macro Conflict Risk Impact Assessment (MCRIA) tool.

The latest in the series took place in Protea Hotel, Kuramo Water, Victoria Island, Lagos for two days. In his welcome remarks, Dr Ogbeifun said: “We are gathered here this morning to learn and seek solutions to corruption beyond society’s definition of the behemoth that is daily destroying lives and livelihoods in the country. “

He went on: “This workshop is unique and apt because corruption and conflict have led to divestments from the Oil and Gas host communities, abandoned projects, setting the people against the government and brothers against brothers. If these continue, our economy and social development programmes would continue to suffer.”

He made it clear that Nigeria has enormous hydrocarbon potentials but paradoxically has been unable to properly harness its gas benefits as a money-spinner domestically. “Some of the reasons for this inability to turn the oil and gas industry around for the good of the people stream from: Corruption; Stimulated conflicts for selfish and rent seeking reasons in oil and gas industry and host communities; Policy somersaults; Inability to envision the future and act; Selfish and rent-seeking paradigms; Misplaced priorities; Complacency on the part of several actors that should have taken a frontal lead in the fight against corruption; Lack of proper understanding of the direct correlations between corruption and conflicts on one hand  and the devastating effects on the host communities and the nation as a whole on the other hand; Lack of proper skills in the use of conflict analysis tools; and Funding challenges.”

He told the participants that corruption and bad leadership have been the bane of Africa’s development. “Our focus therefore, is to partner with social development partners in government, non-governmental organizations, and private sector groups in the advocacy for good governance to fight against corruption and reverse the penchant for looting the treasuries by leaders entrusted with the peoples’ commonwealth at all levels. It is also to reduce and if possible eliminate corruption-generated conflicts and individual rent-seeking adventures by conflict entrepreneurs. It is in this light that AfriTAL encourages anti-corruption activities through disciplined advocacy methods in order to restore good governance for the good of mankind.”

The approach is show how conflict analysis helps us to closely examine conflict in order to understand its causes, identify the actors, trend, understand the historical and structural antecedents as well as current events, and learn from experiences and establish a basis upon which strategies can be developed and interventions planned. “These are the reasons for this gathering.  I therefore, urge us to empty our cups, put aside sentiments and political leanings, and refine our language to attract even those we are targeting to support the fight against corruption so that at the end, history will be kind to us that we came, we saw, and we conquered.”

For two days, Dr Zibima Todenyefa of the Niger Delta University (NDU) and Monday Michaels Ashibogwu (media expert) took the almost 100 participants on the integral elements of the MCRIA developed by Dr Tobeynefa and the media/CSO strategies required to push the model for use in host communities by both the communities, investors and governments.

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