ETHNIC MILITIA AS SECURITY THREAT A STUDY OF MEND IN WARRI
1.1 Background to Study
With an expanding population of over 120 million, and an estimated oil reserve totaling to about 41.5 billion recoverable barrels, Nigeria arguably remains one of Africa’s richest economies. Nigeria ranks as the sixth largest producer of oil and petroleum products in the entire globe, which has also seen it as propelling the economic structure of the nation with oil exploration accounting for over 90 per cent of the country’s exports while there are other minerals available in the country’s rich soil which includes also Barite, Coal, Columbite, Fluorite, Gold, Iron, Kyanite, Uranium, Natural Gaze, Phosphate, Tin.
Despite these enormous deposits of natural and human resources the country is still regarded as a poor nation when evaluated in the GDP rate. This is evident also considering the high level of unemployment, the huge gap that exists between the rich and those living below the poverty level, the high rate of political instability that was witnessed shortly after independence in 1960 culminated to several coups and counter coups that plunged the nation into military dictatorship governments which spanned for over two decades.
This is captured in the analysis of David Bevan, Paul Collier and Jan Willem Gunning as they wrote that during the first six years of Nigeria’s independence between 1960 and 1966 the North and South which was carefully allied with each other towards benefiting from the rich oil that had started coming out from the Niger Delta region, subsequently it brought about two military coups that too place in 1966 while at the same time the threat of secession by the eastern region that saw the nation witness a long drawn civil war that lasted between war that lasted between 1967- 1970 with a casualty of about two million lives.
The outcome of these several military regimes were high level of centralization of government at the federal level, while the other tiers suffered, the high level of corruption by the self proclaimed military leaders who co -opted with civilians in embezzlement of public funds without accountability, press censorship and clamp down on opposition groups and gross neglect of the minority and oil producing communities. This was the situation until finally pressures from within and outside the country led to the new democratic wave in 1999.