About NDWG

Niger Delta Working Group, WashingtonDC
October 2010

The Niger Delta Working Group (NDWG) brings together an array of policy professionals and academics with expertise and experience in Nigeria. Since June 2008 the Working Group has met regularly to analyze the situation in the Niger Delta, and to engage with U.S. and Nigerian counterparts on options for securing peace, democracy, and development in the region.

Members of the Working Group participate as individuals. Institutional affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. Members include:
Akwe Amosu, Open Society Institute
Judith Burdin Asuni, Academic Associates/PeaceWorks
Pauline Baker, Fund for Peace
John Campbell, Council on Foreign Relations (former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria)
Jennifer Cooke, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Howard F. Jeter, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
Darren Kew, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Deirdre LaPin, University of Pennsylvania
Carl LeVan, American University-SIS
Peter Lewis, Johns Hopkins University-SAIS
Princeton Lyman, former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
Steven McDonald, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Todd Moss, Center for Global Development
John Paden, George Mason University
Aaron Sayne, Transnational Crisis Project
David Smock, United States Institute of Peace

News and Resources on the Niger Delta and Nigeria. Since its inception, the NDWG has sponsored a pro bono and informal news service. The “NDWG News” is comprised of a broad range of selected articles and other resources on the Niger Delta and related Nigerian/World events. Criteria for selection include quality, diversity of views, and relevance to the Niger Delta according to geography, theme, and political or economic impact. Initially, news items were sent by email to a limited audience of Niger Delta advocates in the US, Nigeria, and around the world. 

By 1 October 2010 the “NDWG News” had reached 328 issues and a more public forum for the News was designed in the present format. “News and Resources from the Niger Delta Working Group” is presently available at http:// ndwgnews.blogspot.com.  News items may be read as chronological posts or under the tabs Economy, National, Niger Delta, Opinion, and Weekly Buzz -- a news summary. In addition, the site maintains an Archive of news articles and a Library of links to key resources. The blog continues to be managed on a volunteer basis through the collaboration of NDWG members.

Reading Tips A few tips will enhance your reading experience. 
·         To access listed news items at their source, do not click on the title heading, but on the second title of the article, which will direct readers to the full web source.
·         The main title heading will direct readers to a Comments window..

Contact. Readers are invited to comment on the blog site or to suggest additional resources to the library. Please send comments or proposed items with web links to the email ndwg.news@gmail.com.

Briefing Papers.  From time to time, the Niger Delta Working Group issues briefing papers to advise policy makers.  The following paper was prepared for the meeting of the Niger Delta and Security Committee of the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission

Briefing Paper on Nigeria’s Niger Delta
Prepared for the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission

Niger Delta Working Group, Washington, DC
September 2010


  • Nigeria’s Niger Delta is a major source of oil and gas production including large exports to the United States. In recent years, a combination of local grievances, poor governance and corruption, criminal activity, and inflows of arms have increased insecurity in the Delta itself, spread crime to neighboring regions and countries and led to increased piracy on the high seas.

  • Conflict in the Niger Delta has important consequences for the United States, in light of our energy interests, both security of supply and security of American personnel and investment, and other stakes in the stability of Africa’s most populous state such as democracy, grand crime, and regional economic impacts.

  • A comprehensive approach by the Nigerian Government and its partners to resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta will involve promoting a peace process, accelerating development in the region, improving governance, and enhancing environmental protection and security.

  • The Amnesty of October 2009 has opened a window of opportunity by creating conditions of relative stability.  The approaching election season, however, threatens to politicize aspects of the amnesty process and could undermine its gains. Options for peace, recovery, and development must be broadened through a coordinated program of conflict-sensitive initiatives supported collectively through the three tiers of Nigerian government, donor partners, civil society and private industry.

  • The United States can play a constructive role in engaging Nigerian government and civic actors toward addressing the crisis in the Niger Delta. A prudent use of US political, diplomatic, and economic resources can be a catalyst for improving conditions and alleviating conflict. Elements of enhanced security cooperation may also be appropriate if there is progress on diplomacy, governance and development.

A Way Forward: Creating a Framework for the Future

The Government of President Jonathan has recognized the urgency of maintaining peace and delivering sustainable development in the Niger Delta.  The President has further confirmed his commitment to the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan. A recent Strategy Paper by key development partners, including USAID, has noted that a framework will be a necessary accompaniment to the Plan for mobilizing political will and adequate funding by Government and for encouraging partner support. While Nigerian leaders hold the key to regional recovery, external engagement can encourage political commitment and assist concrete efforts toward peace, development, and security in the Niger Delta. A broad-based approach involving diverse forms of assistance is needed to address this challenge. Appropriate policies would include quality staffing and funding for the new Niger Delta Ministry and the NDDC, implementing recommendations of the Technical Committee on the Niger Delta, and mobilizing public and private sector support for local jobs and training.

Promoting Peace

  • A program for comprehensive disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration (DDRR) has begun but is incomplete.  The Nigerian Government, the U.S., other development partners and the private sector should support the program with concrete alternatives to violence, such as good governance, improved systems of justice, creation of sustainable businesses and jobs, and enhancing community-based and government structures for peace. The reintegration part of the DDRR is critical and must not be neglected.

  • A comprehensive dialogue process should be initiated to reconcile the estranged    members of armed groups, communities, and governance structures in order to rebuild the social fabric of the Niger Delta. Iin line with the recommendations of the Technical Committee this process should embed the DDRR efforts into the necessary negotiation process in order to address the fundamental grievances driving the conflict. Dialogue at the community level may offer an important first step.

  • Security Sector Reform should be undertaken to bring the Nigerian military, police and SSS in line with international standards of respect for human rights while maintaining a vigilant and disciplined government security force.

  • Serious efforts should be made to reduce criminal activity in the Niger Delta, including illegal bunkering and illegal arms flows.  Foreign partners should support efforts to improve maritime security and reduce illicit financial and arms flows and networks, through technical assistance and multilateral anti-corruption measures.  The home countries should also pursue legal action against their own citizens as well as Nigerians on their shores involved in these illicit activities. The U.S. could provide valuable technical assistance in law enforcement, judicial reform, and anti-corruption activities that go beyond the EFCC.

  • The participating countries should engage their oil and gas companies actively in contributing to peace and development efforts, including monitoring, transparency and development programs aimed at bringing peace and security to the region. Some oil and gas companies are already doing this individually, but sector-wide programs could have greater impact.

Accelerating Development

  •  A AA coordinated strategy for Niger Delta regional development, guided by an overarching framework should be developed and combine the efforts of the multi-donor Niger Delta Planning Group, civil society, the private sector, and appropriate institutions of Government of Nigeria, especially at state and local government level.

  • The local context must be strengthened through a joint approach for development and pe. . e. eeace. The true gains of the Amnesty will be measured by the successful reintegration of ex-combatants into a peaceful and stable context, fertile in social and economic opportunities, leading to the full recovery and development of the Niger Delta region.
  • An accelerated development approach focusing on massive and rapid investment is supported by leaders from all sectors in the Niger Delta as both a practical and symbolic strategy to bridge the longstanding gap in basic services, infrastructure, job creation, and business growth.  The federal government has acknowledged the need to put development on a fast track by creating the dedicated Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs. 

  •  Institutional capacity-building for planning, managing, monitoring, and reporting on development efforts should be made a priority within the regional development plan. Technical advice on reform should be offered to the new Niger Delta Ministry and to state and local government development departments to ensure total transparency and coordination with local communities.

Improving Governance

  • Promote credible elections in the Niger Delta.S  Since the 1999 transition to civilian rule, elections in the core states of the Niger Delta have been among the most fraudulent and violent in the country. The U.S. and donor partners should continue to work with the Nigerian government on serious electoral reform, and should provide enhanced assistance for electoral administration in the Niger Delta for the next election. Direct assistance to civic organizations in the region will enhance their capacities, improve their cooperation, and protect against intimidation and violence.

  • Support reform efforts among state and local governments in the Niger Delta. The U.S., in concert with national partners and multilateral development institutions, should make an effort to identify reform efforts at the state and local government levels, and partner with effective leaders, to enhance governance and the provision of services that reach the people.

  • Increase budget and revenue transparency. Foreign partners can furnish additional technical support to local institutions in monitoring, accounting, and reporting the movement of resources. Greater transparency and multiple sources of oversight, for example through the NEITI or civil society groups, will bolster pressures for effective use of revenues.

Promoting Environmental Protection and Energy Security

  • Ending gas flaring, reducing pollution, and improving power generation are key to promoting Nigeria’s future economic diversification and health. The 2008 Gas Master Plan seeks to harness lost gas resources and lift the country’s current low power supply.  Adequate investment in infrastructure for gas gathering by industry and government requires immediate support.

  • Strengthen procedures for environmental regulation, monitoring and response.  The U.S. and other partners should continue to support reforms that address imprudent business priorities, inadequate environmental financing, illegal oil tapping, and misguided actions by poor communities, all of which create precarious conditions that pose a constant threat to the region’s health, safety and economy.

  • Continuously improve oil company policies and practices in social performance and in mitigating environmental impacts of core business activitiesOil companies should adopt and practice business principles that ensure transparency in all aspects of their operations.