Nigerian political elite's perception and construction of security strategies 1999-2013 : the case of the Niger Delta oil conflict

Julius, Paul Omoh (2015) Nigerian political elite's perception and construction of security strategies 1999-2013 : the case of the Niger Delta oil conflict. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This study grounded within the discipline of conflict resolution in the field of international conflict is an empirical investigation and comprehensive analysis of the politics of security decision- making in an African petro-state called Nigeria. It explores how the Nigerian political elite perceive national security threat and the impact of this perception on the construction of security strategies in the oil producing Niger Delta region of the country. The study challenges the traditional thinking mode of national security and explores the transformative potential of the human security concept. In doing so, the study arrives at a central thesis that the specific interpretation of national security threat within the Nigerian political elite has escalated the level of insecurity in the state, especially in the Niger Delta region which is the research case study. The issues are addressed in eight chapters with the central themes of elite and security illustrated with theoretical as well as empirical accounts of the making of political elite and the roots of threat perception in Nigeria. By injecting a theoretical framework that comprises both discursive and non-discursive approaches through the two variants of securitisation theory - Copenhagen and Paris Schools, the study strips bare the security perception of the Nigerian political elite. Through qualitative and quantitative research methods, the study explored three different groups’ perceptions as its unit of analysis; and the specific nuances and commonalities within them analysed. The central hypothesis is that state institutions are not just a consequence of early historical conditions, but because agency and structure do evolve over time, the contingent processes and events such as natural resource discovery, nationalisation and the timing of key historical events create a set of governance resources, political economy incentives and elite culture that frames the behaviour of state actors and policy-makers. Nonetheless, these critical junctures may open windows of opportunity to push for a far-reaching changes in frameworks for decision-making and re-shape the mode of governance. The originality of the work is twofold. First, is its utility of an analytical framework that comprises both discursive and non-discursive practices as proposed by the Copenhagen and Paris Schools of securitisation theory to unravel elite perception of security. Second, is its application of a deconstructivist approach through qualitative data coding to analyse the evolving security dynamics in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. The study concludes that the lack of a process to allow the views of those who prioritise state security over citizens security, and those who view security the other way round to communicate and find a common ground is a major problem that needs to be overcome.

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