Oil enclave economy and sexual liaisons in Nigeria's Niger Delta region

Gandu, Yohanna Kagoro (2011) Oil enclave economy and sexual liaisons in Nigeria's Niger Delta region. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.

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This thesis examines the intersection of oil enclave economy and the phenomenon of sexual liaisons in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. The particular focus of this thesis is on the extent to which oil enclavity contributes to the emergence of sexual liaisons between local women and expatriate oil workers. Despite the fact that the Nigerian oil industry has been subjected to considerable scholarly debate for over five decades, this aspect of the social dimension of oil has not received adequate scholarly attention. Gender-specific discourse has tended to focus more on women protest. Other aspects, such as gender-specific violence that women in the region have had to live with, are either ignored or poorly articulated. Picketing of oil platforms by protesting women is celebrated as signs that women are active in the struggle against oil Transnational Companies (TNCs). While women protest is a significant struggle against oil TNCs, it has the potential of blurring our intellectual focus on the specific challenges confronting women in the Niger Delta. This study shows that since the inauguration of the Willink Commission in 1957, national palliatives meant to alleviate poverty in the Niger Delta region have not been gender sensitive. A review of the 1957 Willink Commission and others that came after it shows that the Nigerian state is yet to address the peculiar problems that the oil industry has brought to the women folk in the region. The paradox is that while oil provides enormous wealth and means of patronage to the Nigerian state elite, the oil TNCs, and better paid expatriate oil workers, a large section of the local Oil Bearing Communities (OBCs), especially women and unemployed youth, are not only dispossessed but survive in an environment characterised by anxiety and misery. With limited survival alternatives, youths resort to violent protest including oil thefts and bunkering. Local women are also immersed in this debacle because some of them resort to sexual liaisons with economically empowered expatriate oil workers as an alternative means of survival. This study therefore shifts the focus to women by exploring the extent to which sexual liaison reflects the contradictions in the enclave oil economy. The study employed an enclave economy conceptual framework to demonstrate that oil extractive activities compromise and distort the local economies of OBCs. This situation compels local women to seek for alternative means of survival by entering into sexual liaisons with more financially privileged expatriate oil workers. The study reviewed relevant secondary documentary sources of data. Further, it employed primary data collection techniques which include in-depth interviews/life histories, ethnographic observations, focus group discussions, and visual sociology. Besides obtaining the social profile and challenges facing the women involved in sexual liaisons with expatriate oil workers, the study provides an outline of participants’ narratives on the different social and economic dimensions of the intersection of oil enclave economy and sexual liaisons. The study found that some of the women involved in sexual liaisons with expatriate oil workers have been abandoned with ‘fatherless’ children. Some of them have also been rejected by their immediate family members and, in some cases, by their community. The study also found that the phenomenon of sexual liaisons and the incidents of abandoned ‘fatherless’ children that result from the practice, has over the years been played out through local resentment against oil TNCs and their expatriate employees. This finding helps to fill the gap in narratives and to make sense of the civic revolt and deepening instability in the Niger Delta region.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Oil enclave economy, Nigeria, Sexual liaisons, Niger Delta, Women, Expatriate oil workers, Oil industry, Gender-specific violence, Transnational companies, Willink Commission, Oil bearing communities, Survival, Communities, Civic revolt, Instability
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > Sociology and Industrial Sociology
Supervisors:Adesina, Jimi O.
ID Code:3503
Deposited By: Philip Clarke
Deposited On:25 Sep 2012 13:21
Last Modified:25 Sep 2012 13:21
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