Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 32731
Oil Exploitation, Environmental Injustice and Decolonial Nonrecognition: Exploring the Historical Accounts of Host Communities in South-Eastern Nigeria

Authors: Ejikeme Kanu


This research explores the environmental justice of host communities in south-eastern Nigeria whose source of livelihood has been destroyed due to oil exploitation. Environmental justice scholarship in the area often adopts Western liberal ideology from a more macro level synthesis (Niger Delta). This study, therefore, explored the sufficiency or otherwise of the adoption of Western liberal ideology in the framing of Environmental Justice (EJ) in the area which neglects the impact of colonialism and cultural domination. Archival research supplemented by secondary analysis of literature guided this study. Drawing from data analysis, the paper first argues that micro-level studies are required to either validate or invalidate the studies done at the macro-level (Niger Delta) which has often been used to generalise around environmental injustice done within the host communities even though the communities (South-eastern) differ significantly from (South-south) in terms of language, culture, the socio-political and economic formation which indicate that the drivers of EJ may differ among them. Secondly, the paper argues that EJ framing from the Western worldview adopted in the study area is insufficient to understand environmental injustice suffered in the study area and there is the need for EJ framing that will consider the impact of colonialism and nonrecognition of the cultural identities of the host communities which breed EJ. The study, therefore, concludes by drawing from decolonial theory to consider how the framing of EJ would move beyond the western liberal EJ to Indigenous EJ.

Keywords: Culture, decolonial, environmental justice, indigenous environmental justice, nonrecognition.

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 320


[1] Ebeku, K.S.A. Oil and the Niger Delta people: the injustice of the land use act. CEPMLP. 2001. Online Journal.
[2] Barry, F. B., and Shapiro, J. Environmental Injustices: Conflict & Health Hazards in the Niger Delta. 2010, 1–73. Retrieved from
[3] Okotie, S. The Nigerian Economy Before the Discovery of Crude Oil. In Ndimele (ed): The Political Ecology of Oil and Gas Activities in the Nigerian. Aquatic Ecosystem (pp.71-81) Academic Press, 2018. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-809399-3.00005-7
[4] Madu, C.N and Kuei, C. Modeling landscape sustainability in the oil producing Niger Delta area of Nigeria. Journal on Energy Policy. 2019
[5] Kadafa, A.A (2012) Oil Exploration and Spillage in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Journal of Civil and Environmental Research. 2012. Vol 2, No.2,
[6] Ebegbulem, Joseph C, Ekpe, D. and A. O. T. Oil Exploration and Poverty in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria: A Critical Analysis, 2013. 4(3), 279–287.
[7] Nnamdi, C. C., & Nnadozie, O. T. Natural Resources Exploitation and Utilization in Imo State, Nigeria: The Economic and Environmental Perspective, 1(5). 2016
[8] Watts, M. Sweet and sour. Niger Delta economies of violence. Working Paper No. 18 University of California, Berkeley, USA. 2008
[9] Obi, C. Oil as the ‘Curse’ of conflict in Africa: Peering through the smoke and mirrors. Review of African Political Economy. Routledge. 2010. Vol.37, No126 483-495.
[10] Watts, M.J. Antinomies of community: some thoughts on geography, resources and Empire. The Royal Geographical Society New Series, 2004. Vol. 29, No. 2,
[11] Adangor, Z. The principles of Derivation and the Search for Distributive Justice in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. The Journey So far. Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization. 2015. Vol 41(3)115-133.
[12] Bullard, R. Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 1990
[13] Friends of the Earth Scotland. The Campaign for Environmental Justice. Edinburgh: Friends of the Earth Scotland. 1999
[14] Walker, G. Beyond Distribution and Proximity: Exploring the Multiple Spatialities of Environmental Justice. Antipode, 2009. 41(4), 614–636.
[15] Walker, G. Environmental Justice: Concepts, Evidence and Politics, Routledge. Empire. The Royal Geographical Society New Series. 2012. Vol. 29, No. 2,
[16] Agyeman, J., Bullard, R. and Evans, B. (eds). Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. London: Earthscan. 2003
[17] Rawls, J. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.1971
[18] Young, I. M. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton University Press. 2011
[19] Fraser N. Recognition or Redistribution? A Critical Reading of Iris Young’s Justice and the Politics of Difference. Journal of Political Philosophy. 1995. 3(2):166–180.
[20] Schlosberg D. The Justice of Environmental Justice: Reconciling Equity, Recognition, and Participation in a Political Movement. In: Light A, de Shalit A, editors. Moral and Political Reasoning in Environmental Practice. Cambridge: MIT Press; 2003. pp. 77–106
[21] Miller, D. A Response’, in Daniel A. Bell and Avner de-Shalit (eds.), Forms of Justice: Critical Perspectives on David Miller’s Political Philosophy, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2003
[22] Schlosberg, D. Defining Environmental Justice: Theories, Movements and Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2007
[23] Jonnalagadda1, S. R; Goyal, P and Huffman, M.D. Automating data extraction in systematic reviews: A systematic review. BioMed Central. 2015 4:78 Page 5 of 16
[24] Jesson, J.K; Matheson, L. and Lacey, F.M. Doing Your Literature Review: Traditional and Systematic Techniques. SAGE publications ltd. 2011
[25] Khan, K.S; Ter Riet, G.: Glanville, J.; Sowden, A.J. and Kleijnen, J. Undertaking systematic reviews of research on effectiveness: CRD’s guidance for carrying out or commissioning reviews. NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination. 2001
[26] Yergin, D. The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. Simon and Schuster. New York. 1990
[27] Parkinson J. ‘The Geological Structure of West Africa’. Journal of the Royal African Society. 1913 13, 49: 14-22.
[28] Steyn, P. Oil exploration in colonial Nigeria. Paper presented at the XIV International Economic History Congress, Session 11, Helsinki 2006.
[29] Orji, E.A.C. Owerre in the Twentieth Century 1901-1999. Owerri: Casers Limited. 1999
[30] Talbot, P.A. The people of southern Nigeria Vol. 3. London: Frank Cass Publishers. 1937
[31] Eastern Nigeria Guardian. ‘Shell D’Arcy has spent over £1000000 looking for oil. What happens if unsuccessful?’ Eastern Nigeria Guardian, 29 October 1951: 1–2.
[32] Daily champion. Nigeria: Iho Community squares up with Shell, Daily champion, 19, July. 2011
[33] Bamberg, J. British Petroleum and Global Oil, 1950-1975: The Challenge of Nationalism (History of British Petroleum). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2000
[34] Adunbi, O. Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria. Indiana University Press, Bloomington. 2015
[35] Coronil, F. The Magical State: Nature, Money, and Modernity in Venezuela. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1998
[36] Ejobowah, J.B. Who owns the Oil? The Politics of Ethnicity in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Indiana University Press, 2000. 29-47.
[37] Uchendu, V.C. State, land and society in Nigeria: a critical assessment of Land Use Decree. Journal of African Studies, 1979.Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 62-74.
[38] Oluduro, O. Oil exploration and ecological damage: the compensation policy in Nigeria, Canadian Journal of Development Studies/Revue canadienned'études du développement, 2012. 33:2, 164-179, DOI: 10.1080/02255189.2012.693049
[39] Umejesi, I. Land Use, Compensational Justice and Energy Resource Extraction In Nigeria: A Socio-Historical Study of Petroleum and Coal Mining Communities. A Thesis Submitted in Fulfilment of the Requirements for The Degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Fort Hare. 2010
[40] Nwokolo, N.N. The Political Economy of Oil Resources Conflicts: A Study of Oil Village Communities in Nigeria: PhD Thesis Submitted to The University of Birmingham for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 2012
[41] Land Use ACT. Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1978
[42] Omeje, K. C. The Rentier State: Oil-related legislation and Conflict in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Conflict, Security and Development. 2006. Vol 6 (2) 211-230 DOI:10.1080/14678800600739259
[43] Ako, R. Nigeria’s Land Use Act: an anti-thesis to environmental justice. Journal of African law, 2009. 53(2), 289–304.
[44] Adebayo, A.G. Embattled Federalism: History of Revenue Allocation in Nigeria, 1946-1990. New York, Peter Lang Publishers. 1993
[45] Bauer, A., Gankhuyag, U. and Halling, S. Making natural resources revenue sharing work. United Nations Development Programme. 2016
[46] Federation Account Amendment decree. Federal Republic of Nigeria. 1984
[47] Lukpata, V.I. Revenue Allocation Formulae in Nigeria: A Continuous Search. International Journal of Public Administration and Management Research (Ijpamr), 2013.Volume 2, Number 1
[48] Clark, E. 2019 Presidential Endorsements: The reasons for groups’ choice of Atiku. Channels television live interview. Sunday politics, Feb 10. 2019
[49] Gabriel, A.O. OMPADEC and Educational Development in Nigeria: 1992 – 1997. IJERD. 1999. Vol.1, No.1
[50] Holifield R, Chakraborty J, Walker G. The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. 1. London; New York: Routledge. 2017
[51] McGregor, D. Indigenous Women, Water Justice and Zaagidowin (Love) Canadian Woman Studies. 2015. 30(2–3):71–78.
[52] Álvarez L and Coolsaet B. Decolonizing Environmental Justice Studies: A Latin American Perspective. Capitalism Nature Socialism. 2018. 31(2):50–69.
[53] Schlosberg, D. Justice, Ecological Integrity, and Climate Change. In: Thompson A, Bendik-Keymer J, editors. Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future. Cambridge: MIT Press; 2012 pp. 165–183.
[54] Barnhill-Dilling SK, Rivers L, Delborne JA. Rooted in Recognition: Indigenous Environmental Justice and the Genetically Engineered American Chestnut Tree. Society & Natural Resources. 2020;33(1):83–100. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2019.1685145.
[55] Lowitt, K., Levkoe, C. Z., Lauzon, R., Ryan, K., & Sayers, C. D. 7 Indigenous Self-Determination and Food Sovereignty Through Fisheries Governance in the Great Lakes Region. Civil Society and Social Movements in Food System Governance, 145. 2019
[56] Sanders, W. Reconciling Public Accountability and Aboriginal Self-Determination/Self- Management: Is ATSIC Succeeding? Canberra, ACT: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), The Australian National University 2018
[57] Chidume, C. G., Osisioma, U. S. and Echem, S. O. The Symbolism of Kola nut in Igbo Cosmology: A Re-Examination. International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Studies. 2015. Volume 2, Issue 8, PP 51-56
[58] Obiakor, E. E. Reincarnation in Igbo Belief System: The Paradox Ph.D. Thesis Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka. 2010
[59] Okeke, C. Belief in Life After Death in African Traditional Religion Vis-à-vis Christian Religion: A case Study of Central Sub-Saharan Zone of Igboland. International Journal of Research Devpt. 2015. Vol.9 no1 Retrieved January 25. From
[60] Ekechi, F.K. Colonialism and Christianity in West Africa: The Igbo Case, 1900-1915. The Journal of African History. 1971. Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 103-115
[61] Nwala, T.U. The Igbo idea of the sacred: contemporary observances, part 2. The 1987 Ahiajioku Lecture (Onugaotu) Colloquium.
[62] Whyte, K. P. The Dakota Access Pipeline, Environmental Injustice, and U.S. Colonialism. Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts, & Humanities, 2017. 19(1)
[63] McCreary, T., & Milligan, R. The Limits of Liberal Recognition: Racial Capitalism, Settler Colonialism, and Environmental Governance in Vancouver and Atlanta. 2018 Antipode.
[64] Whyte K.P. Too Late for Indigenous Climate Justice: Ecological and Relational Tipping Points. WIREs Climate Change. 2020. 11(1):e603. doi: 10.1002/wcc.603.
[65] Jackson S. Indigenous Peoples and Water Justice in a Globalizing World. In: Conca K, Weinthal E, editors. The Oxford Handbook of Water Politics and Policy. New York: Oxford University Press. 2018
[66] McGregor D, Whitaker S and Sritharan M. Indigenous Environmental Justice and Sustainability. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 2020 43:35–40. doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2020.01.007.
[67] Vanguard Nigeria: 60 Years after Nigeria’s first crude: Oloibiri oil dries up, natives wallow in abject poverty. 13, March, 2016
[68] Nairaland Nigeria: Picture of Where Nigeria's First Crude Oil Was Drilled in Imo State by iamhorny(m): Jul 31, 2017.