By Chima Nwafo
Nigeria’s Resource Wars, Ed. Egodi Uchendu, Vernon Press, Delaware, USA, 2020
the major snag truncating progress of the Nigerian project is government ineptitude, contempt for scholarship and the cancerous issue of corruption. Over one year of receiving the sound recommendations of experts from across the globe, after a conference that birthed the book, Nigeria’s Resource Wars, edited by Prof Egodi Uchendu, there is enough evidence to believe that the federal government has neither studied nor learned any lessons from the ideas-rich conference papers.
As a result, the conflict is now degenerating into an inter-ethnic war, while the government is reluctant to adjust its unconstitutional backing for the Fulani herdsmen since 2015.
The menace of herders and plight of farmers featured prominently in the 33 chapters, as well as the Introduction to the book that interrogated Nigeria’s resource-related conflicts, from the humiliating dethronement of King Jaja of Opobo and King Nana of Itsekiri to the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta in the 1990s over resource control.
It is not surprising that one year after, submissions from the confab on Nigeria’s Resource Wars are still gathering dust in the shelves. But, thank God, the convener ensured that it is produced in a book form. And now, we have an e-edition of Nigeria’s Resource Wars.
The book “gave priority to rural conflicts, largely, between Fulani herders and non-Fulani farmers,” the editor noted in the Preface.
Property rights was equally examined in the light of a new research revealing that the “main determinant of over-exploitation of environmental resources and ecological degradation in developing countries is absence of well-defined property rights regimes,” authors rightly added that failure of leadership is responsible for Nigeria’s.
In “Nigerian Resource Wars and Economic Development in Historical Perspective,” Dmitri van den Bersselaar of the University of Leipzig, Germany, questioned the appropriateness, or lack of it, of ‘resource war’, contending it applies more to conflicts between nations. He considered the concept appropriate, because it draws attention to loss of lives during such conflicts as in the death of over 5,500 people between 1999 and 2015 in conflicts over grazing rights in Oyo and Saki, both in Oyo State.
“Explanations for Nigeria’s ‘resource wars’ should take into account the actions and inactions of the state to a greater extent than has hitherto been done. These conflicts cannot be attributed to religious or ethnic differences, but are the consequence of the country’s inadequate and uneven pattern of economic development that has failed to keep up with Nigeria’s increasing population.”
He suggested that it’s time for a new debate on development and the state in Nigeria that pays attention to hitherto marginalised local traditions of development.
In Chapter 29, a University of Maiduguri don x-rayed “Boko Haram as a Struggle for Socio-Economic Control of Human and Material Resources in North-eastern Nigeria. In chapters 30 and 31, the authors focused on the youth population. They cited instances where youths were at the vanguard of many resource conflicts, adding: “Poor leadership, corruption, unemployment, poverty, etc, were among factors driving youth participation in resource-based conflicts. They recommended that future attempts at resolving internal conflicts in Nigeria must deal constructively with the specific problems confronting youths.
In “A ‘Security’ Component in Nigeria’s Resource Wars, Adoyi Onoja of Nasarawa State University, Keffi, scrutinised the word security, and how it is profiled in Nigeria. He treated security as a resource, particularly its provisioning, “which acts as a tonic fuelling conflicts in the country,” arguing that the managers of ‘security’ —the political and military elites, beneficiaries of funds meant for security —have vested interest in the continuation of crises through which they enrich themselves. He challenged the National Assembly to take a critical look at why insecurity has remained a recurring decimal, threatening both the unity and survival of the nation.
The Editor, Egodi Uchendu, Professor of History, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, has in her docket three sole-authored books, six edited books, among others.
Uchendu wrote the Preface, while John Mukum Mbaku of Weber State University, Utah, USA, wrote the Introduction. Contributions came from several universities, including University of Nigeria, Nsukka; University of Ibadan, University of Benin; Niger Delta University; University of Calabar, Federal University of Lafia; The University of Texas at Austin, USA, and University of Zurich, Switzerland.
• Nwafo, Consulting Editor, News Express and Public Affairs/Environmental Analyst, can be reached on: [email protected]