NATURAL RESOURCES AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGER DELTA REGION; AN ASSESSMENT

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CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
The evolution of human society has rested on the sustained interaction which largely depends on man’s ability to create tools within social organizations to harness natural resources in the quest for survival and developmental needs. Adesopo and Asaju (2004) defines natural resources as those things available to man as “gifts of nature” which are either renewable or non-renewable, such as mineral, water, and agricultural, forest and atmospheric resources. The pivotal role of natural resources in socio-economic development process has long been established by scholars. For example, Romer (1996) and Wright (1990) separately averred that the origins of rapid industrial and economic expansion in the United State of America (USA) over 1879-1940 were strongly linked to the reproducible natural resources, particularly energy and mineral resources. In supporting this, Barlowe (1978) described natural resources as productive assets which support economic development and sustain human population. Also, Bradshaw (2005) argues that natural resources and mining are viewed as key drivers of economic growth and the development process. In similar vein, Bridge (2008) averred that natural resources exploitation industry is the lead sector that drives economic expansion which can lead to higher levels of social and economic well-being.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, 2007) suggests that the rising demand on developing countries for natural resources based primary commodities in recent times from developed countries. The high prices of mineral resources in the international market have increasingly stimulated investments in natural resources exploration in developing countries,(Mahtani, 2008; Okeke, 2008).This has in turn opened economic opportunities and development prospects for resource – rich developing countries. Nigeria’s situation appears to be a paradox because abundance natural resources seems to co-exist with sluggish rate of economic development. Eneh (2006) submits that Nigeria’s GDP per capital crawls behind those of other developing countries over the years. Between 1965 and 1995 (30 years), Nigeria’s GDP increased 3.6 folds from $5.8 billion where Malaysia’s increased 52 folds from $3.8 billion to $72 billion. Yet, exploration of mineral resources took over from agriculture as the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy within this period. It has been argued that the petrol and dollar based mono-cultural economy operated in Nigeria has been a major sustainable development challenge in the countries as it is not only associated with environmental sustainability crises (Chijoke, 2009; Jack, 2014), but has also displaced the development of other natural resources such as solid minerals and agriculture (Murtala, 2011) Gyang, Nnanle and Chollom (2010) posit that over dependence on crude oil and gas lead to rudimentary natural mineral development in Nigeria with severe consequences for environmental sustainability and human health. However, the aim of the study is to examine natural resources and socio-economic development in Nigeria as a nation and Niger-Delta as a region.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The Niger-Delta region prior to the discovery of crude oil and the subsequent exploration and exploitation of same, was predominantly agrarian region with peasant farmers. The soil was arable, being in the vantage position of coastal plains and sand barriers nourished by Creek and Rivers running to the Atlantic coast. The fertile alluvial soil of the plains provided a rich harvest farm, cassava, plantain and banana. Fishing business also boomed for the fishermen and they did not have to travel to the deep seas before having a good harvest.
In spite of the population pressure, the inhabitants had over the years, perfected the art of managing the resources of their environment in a sustainable way which brought about peaceful co-existence and tranquility in the region. Despite the huge contribution of the Niger-Delta region to the national economy, the region is characterized with absence of infrastructures, social services, non-oil industries, marginalization, corruption and nepotism which largely gave birth to the emergence of the various aggrieved militant groups in the region for the control of their naturally endowed crude oil, with their actions and activities that is harmful to the socio-economy development of the region. In the light of above, it’s imperative for one to note that this work will focuses on the romance between natural Resources and Socio-economy of Niger-Delta.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions serve to detail and assess the nexus between natural resources and socio-economy development of the Niger-Delta. They are as follows:

  1. Does exploration and exploitation of natural resources promote socio- economic development in Niger Delta?
  2. What are the factor that hinders socio-economic development of Niger- Delta?
  3. Does natural resources foster socio-economy development in Niger-Delta?

1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objectives of this study is to examine the impact of natural resources to the socio-economic development of Niger Delta.
The Specific Objectives is as follow:

  1. To identify those factors that hinders socio-economic development of Niger-Delta Region.
  2. To ascertain whether natural resources foster development in Niger Delta Region.
    1.5 Statement of Hypotheses
  3. Exploitation of natural resources does not promote socio-economic development in Niger-Delta.
  4. The level of exploration and exploitation of natural resources in Niger Delta is not directly proportional with the level of returns by Federal Government.
  5. The inequality between Niger Delta Region and federal government over natural resources.

1.6 Significance of the Study
This research will elucidate on the impact of natural resources on the socio-economic development not only Niger-Delta but also Nigeria as a nation and Third World countries. It will also serve as a blueprint and framework for other researchers to embark on further studies on areas related to this field. Furthermore, the work will provide empirical information on the appropriate policies that will foster development in Niger-Delta.

1.7 Limitations of the Study
The difficulties encountered in the process of carrying out this research are as follows, financial related problem, time constraint; delay in the process of gathering material as well as the necessary information needed

1.8 Definition of Terms
Natural Resources: Resources that exist without actions of humankind.
Socio-economy development: Socio-economic development incorporates public concerns in developing social policy and economic.
Niger-Delta: Is the delta of Niger river sitting directly on the Gulf Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean in Nigeria.

NATURAL RESOURCES AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGER DELTA REGION; AN ASSESSMENT