Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Char Miller

Reader 2

Harmony O'Rourke

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Rights Information

© 2015 Mayowa Ige


Every year, for the past 50 years, Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta has suffered the same magnitude of oil spill in its rivers and swamps than was spilled in the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. The damage has devastated the way of life of the Ogoni people who live in the area. They have consistently suffered environmental injustice as a result of Shell’s oil exploration, and the Nigerian government has ignored their cries for help and restitution. In fact, movements to garner support for environmental justice and fare share of oil profits and ownership from Shell and the state have been brutally shut down by the Nigerian government.

Could it be that the reason that the state is willing to allow such a grave level of environmental degradation to persist is not only because it is corrupt, but also because the Nigerian government functions as a gatekeeper state guarding its precious oil resources? Following independence, many oil-producing countries turned to spigot economies that allowed whoever controlled access to the tap to collect rent on it. Thus, as a gatekeeper state, it is not in the best interest of the Nigerian government to give up its rent-seeking behaviors with Shell to appease its citizens because it may disrupt its relationship with the outside corporations. As a result, many of the cries for environmental justice by the Ogoni people have been met with resistance from the state since their function has evolved to collect taxes on exports and imports—not to maintain the trust of its citizens.