From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Tue Dec 09 2003 - 16:42:30 EST
EPW Special Articles November 29, 2003 Economies of Violence More Oil, More Blood Petroleum in the Nigerian context has produced a combustible politics marked by violence. Rather than see oil-dependency as a source of predation or as a source of state military power, this paper explores how oil capitalism produces particular sorts of enclave economies and governable spaces characterised by violence and instability. While the biophysical qualities of oil matter in this analysis, so do the powers of transnational oil companies, the character of the 'the oil complex', and the ways in which oil as a territorially-based and nationalised commodity can become the basis for making claims. Michael Watts Blood may be thicker than water, but oil is thicker than either. Perry Anderson (2001:30) Oil, more than any other commodity, illustrates both the importance and the mystification of natural resources in the modern world. Fernando Coronil (1997: 49) The annals of oil are an uninterrupted chronicle of naked aggression, genocide and the violent law of the corporate frontier. Iraq was born from this vile trinity. In their own way, the awful spectacle of oil-men parading through the corridors of the White House, the rise of militant Islamism across the Q'uran belt, and the carnage on the road to Baghdad, all bear out the dreadful dialectics of blood and oil. Paul Wolfowitz' recent confession, to the Asian Security Summit in Singapore in early June, that the Iraq war driven not by the fiction of weapons of mass destruction but by the 'simple fact' that the 'country swims on a sea of oil'1 is consistent at least with the last eighty years of US foreign policy [Painter 1986]. But there is another oil story in train, bearing all the hallmarks of the long, ugly history petrolic violence. Two years ago, vice president Dick Cheney predicted that Africa would become the fastest growing source of oil for the American market (as much as 25 per cent of US imports by 2015) and it is hardly a surprise to learn there where oil reigns supreme the military are sure to follow. The Wall Street Journal reported several weeks ago that the Pentagon, in the most radical deployment of American forces since the end of the cold war, will move troops from Germany to the Caucasus and west Africa to 'protect key oil reserves'.2 More oil, more blood. Protection demands, of course, keeping the oil flowing by working hand-in-hand with a phalanx of African dictators and political psychopaths on the one side, and supermajors like ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco on the other who, citing confidentiality agreements, refuse to disclose the fees, royalties and other services (paramilitaries and security forces among them) made to the phalanxes of well-placed African nomenklatura. Such is the scale of the decrepitude and venality - $ 300 million in Equatorial Guinea, billions in Nigeria over the last two decades - that Tony Blair is now in a trans-Atlantic tug of war to have oil majors disclose their payments for leases and concessions, a proposal fiercely resisted by American big oil and the Bush administration. In a separate proposal George Soros calls for mandatory reporting as a prerequisite for listing of oil companies on the world's stock exchanges.3 In the last year a raft of new reports inventory the appalling record of oil-based economies in relation to corruption, economic growth and poverty alleviation.4 Oil, as Anderson says, is thicker than blood or water. Another Oil Story A year before the events of September 11, 2001, the US department of state in its annual encyclopaedia of 'global terrorism' identified the Niger delta - the ground zero of oil production in Nigeria - as a breeding ground for increasingly militant 'impoverished ethnic groups' for whom terrorist acts (abduction, hostage taking, kidnapping and extra-judicial killings) against foreigners were legion.5 The CIA concurred (2000), laying emphasis on the catalytic effects of 'environmental stresses' in the oil-rich southern delta on 'political tensions'. At this time, Nigeria - the 13th largest producer of petroleum (and which provides 80 per cent of government revenues, 95 per cent of export receipts, and 90 per cent of foreign exchange earnings) - was providing almost 14 per cent of US American petroleum consumption.6 At about the same time, the Petroleum Finance Company (PFC) presented to the US congressional international relations committee sub-committee on Africa a report of the strategic and growing security significance of west African oil whose high quality reserves and low cost output - coupled with massive new deepwater discoveries - required, in the view of PFC, serious attention, and substantial foreign investment. In the wake of the Al Qaeda attacks, and on the larger canvas of the crisis in Venezuela and the Iraq war, west Africa has emerged as the site of 'the new Gulf oil states'.7 Indeed by January 2002 the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies was providing a forum for the Bush oil-administration to declare that African oil is 'a priority for US national security'.8 In the last year, Africa's black gold - in Gabon, Sao Tome, Angola, Equatorial Guinea - and its ugly footprint are rarely off the front pages. Oil and blood, as Jon Anderson put it, are ubiquitous.9 With the additional frisson of terrorism: the 'nightmare', as the New York Times noted, of 'sympathisers of Osama bin Laden sink(ing) three oil tankers in the straits of Hormuz'.10 The mythos of oil and oil-wealth has been central to the history of modern industrial capitalism. But in Nigeria, as elsewhere in, the discovery of oil, and annual oil revenues of $ 40 billion currently, has ushered in a miserable, undisciplined, decrepit, and corrupt form of 'petro-capitalism'. After a half century of oil production from which almost $ 300 billion in oil revenues have flowed directly into the federal exchequer (and perhaps 50 billion promptly flowed out only to 'disappear' overseas), Nigerian per capita income stands at $ 290 per year. For the majority of Nigerians, living standards are no better now than at independence in 1960. A repugnant culture of excessive venality and profiteering among the political class - the department of state has an entire website devoted to so-called 419 fraud cases - confers upon Nigeria the dubious honour of sitting atop Transparency International's ranking of most corrupt states. Paradoxically, oil-producing states in the federation - the Niger delta - have benefited the least from oil-wealth. Devastated by the ecological costs of oil spillage and the highest gas flaring rates in the world, the Niger delta is a political tinderbox. A generation of militant 'restive' youth, deep political frustrations among oil-producing communities, and pre-electoral thuggery all combine to prosper in the rich soil of political marginalisation. The massive rigging of elections across the delta in the April 2003 elections simply confirmed the worst for the millions of Nigerians who have suffered from decades of neglect. The middle-east historian Robert Vitalis (2001) has recently suggested that the rapid, complete and irreversible rise of American dominance in Saudi Arabia can shed much light on why 'the Niger delta is currently in crisis'. And indeed it is. Since March 12, 2003, mounting communal violence accounting for at least 50 deaths, and the levelling of eight communities in and around the Warri petroleum complex, has prompted all the major oil companies to withdraw staff, to close down operations and reduce output by over 7,50,000 barrels per day (almost half of national output). President Obasanjo has dispatched large troop deployments to the oil-producing creeks, prompting Ijaw militants, incensed over indiscriminate military action and illegal oil bunkering in which the security forces were implicated, to threaten the detonation of eleven captured oil installations. The strikes on the off-shore oil platforms - a long-festering sore that rarely reaches the media - were quickly resolved but nobody seriously expects that the deeper problems within the oil sector will go away. Relatively new to delta politics, however, are a series of assassinations, the most shocking being the killing of chief Marshall Harry, a senior member of the main opposition party and leading campaigner for greater resource allocation to the oil-producing Niger delta. Fallout from the Harry assassination has already become a source of tension in his native oil-producing state of rivers where supporters of the main opposition party, the ANPP and another opposition grouping of activists and politicians, the Rivers Democratic Movement, have linked the ruling party to the assassination. With good reason, the business-as-usual character of the gubernatorial election victories across the oil-producing states, has led some to believe that the Nigeria is another Colombia in the making [Cesarz et al 2003]. The strategic significance of Nigeria is incontestable. One of every five Africans is a Nigerian, Nigeria is the world's seventh largest exporter of petroleum and a key player in African regional security, most recently in Sierra Leone. Nigeria is an archetypal oil nation. Three quarters of government revenues, and almost all export earnings, flow from black gold. A long-time member of OPEC, and the fifth largest supplier of oil exports to the US, Nigeria pumps oil much coveted for its 'lightness' and 'sweetness', yielding more gasoline and diesel than the 'sour' crude from the Middle East. It is also home to a vast Muslim community. Since the oil boom of the 1970s, political power has shifted from the conservative Sufi brotherhoods to well-organised modern Islamist groups like the Yan Izala founded in 1978. Sharia'a law, of a dogmatic and literalist sort, has been adopted and implemented in 12 of the populous northern states, amidst considerable political acrimony and international censure. At least 350 people were killed in four days of terrible rioting in northern Nigeria triggered by protests against US military action in Afghanistan, including particularly bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians in Kano, Kaduna and Jos. Olesegun Obasanjo's presidential victory in 1999, in the wake of the darkest period of military rule in Nigeria's 40 year post-independence history, held much promise. An internationally recognised statesman and diplomat imprisoned during the brutal Abacha years, he inherited the mantle of a massively corrupt state apparatus, an economy in shambles, and a federation crippled by long-standing ethnic enmity. Committed to reforming a corrupt and undisciplined military - the largest in Africa - and to deepening the process of democratisation, Obasanjo was confronted within months of his inauguration by militant ethnic groups speaking the language of self-determination, local autonomy and resource control (meaning a greater share of the federally allocated oil revenues). In an incident widely condemned by the human rights community, some 2,000 persons were slaughtered in Odi, Bayelsa state after federal troops were dispatched in response to clashes between local militants and the police. Obasanjo has consistently refused to apologise for the murders and there has been no full inquiry. Last year the military was involved in yet another massacre, this time in the middle-belt, in Benue and Taraba states, the most serious communal conflict since the clashes preceding the outbreak of the Biafran civil war in 1967. On president Obasanjo's watch, over 10,000 have perished in ethnic violence. He has failed miserably to address the human rights violations by the notoriously corrupt Nigerian security forces. Early in his tenure, Obasanjo did retire a number of senior officers and embark upon an anti-corruption campaign, aided and abetted by the US's role in 'retraining' the Nigerian armed forces. President Clinton committed foreign assistance to 'reprofessionalise' the Nigerian army in 1999, including the equipping and training of seven battalions at a cost of over $1 billion. During the Bush imperium, the presence of 200 special forces in Nigeria, including on-site training grounds in some of the most sensitive areas of the Muslim north, has generated enormous suspicion and now vocal opposition. Not unexpectedly, a number of powerful Nigerian constituencies see a beleaguered and corrupt Obasanjo regime as simply another miserable US oil colony. The zeitgeist of oil - its mythic and spectacular qualities in relation to the modern - is an essential expression of contemporary hydro-carbon capitalism. Oil's fetishistic appeal was not lost on the great Polish journalist Ryszard Kapucinksi who, in his reflections on oil-rich pre-revolutionary Iran, sardonically observed that, "Oil creates the illusion of a completely changed life, life without work, life for free....The concept of oil expresses perfectly the eternal human dream of wealth achieved through lucky accident...In this sense oil is a fairy tale and like every fairy tale a bit of a lie" (1982: 35). It is this lie, one might say, that currently confronts west African oil producers, and Nigeria in particular. A Resource Curse? In virtue of the geo-strategic significance of oil to contemporary capitalism - and to US hegemony in particular - relations between natural resources (and oil in particular) and economic growth, democracy, and civil war have emerged as an object of substantial scholarly attention (operating under the sign of 'resource politics'), not least by economists and political scientists.11 The IMF and its stenographers have posited a strong association between resource-dependency, corruption and economic performance. Sachs and Warner (1995) argue that one standard deviation increase in the ratio of natural resource exports to GNP is associated with a decrease of just over 1 per cent in the growth rate (irrespective of the endogeneity of corruption, commodity price variability and trade liberalisation). Leite and Weidemann (1999) believe that for fuels the figure is 0.6 per cent and due 'entirely to the indirect effect of corruption' (1999:29). For Michael Klare (2001), writing from a very different vantage point, oil is a dwindling, key-strategic resource that will necessarily be generative of interstate conflict (see also Homer-Dixon 1999).12 This is a line of argumentation developed by Paul Collier, who, in his work with the World Bank, uses resource dependency as a way of thinking about rebellion (especially in Africa), with oil posited as central to the economics of civil war. It encourages extortion and looting through resource predation (at least up to the point where 26 per cent of GDP is dependent on resource extraction). And the feasibility of predation by states or rebel groups determines the risk of conflict. For Collier, the risks are greater because of resource dependency than ethnic or religious diversity. Oil is a 'resource curse'. Ross elaborates on this claim seeing oil in terms of its rentier effect (low taxes and high patronage dampen pressures for democracy); its repression effect conferred by the direct state control over sufficient revenues to bankroll excessive military expenditures and expanded internal security apparatuses; and a modernisation effect, namely, the 'move into industrial and service sector jobs render them less likely to push for democracy' (2001:357).13 This comes terribly close to a sort of commodity determinism confirming perhaps Coronil's point that oil, more than any other commodity, 'illustrates both the importance and the mystification of natural resources in the modern world' [Coronil 1997: 49]. But if oil hinders democracy (as though copper might liberate parliamentary democracy?), one needs to appreciate the centralising effect of oil and the state in relation to the oil-based nation-building enterprises that are unleashed in the context of a politics that pre-dates oil. Much of the resource curse analysis runs the risk of imputing enormous powers to oil (without grasping its specificity), conflating petroleum's purported Olympian powers with preexisting political dynamics, and, as in the case of Collier, misidentifying a predation-proneness for what is in fact the dynamics of state and corporate enclave politics [Leonard and Strauss 2003]. What is striking in somuchof what passes as 'resource politics' is the total invisibility of both transnational oil companies (which typically work in joint ventures with the state) and the specific forms of rule associated with petro-capitalism. My analysis charts the relations between oil and violence, but does so through examining how forms of governable (or non-governable spaces) are created through the analytics of 'authoritarian governmentality' [Dean 1999] growing out of the soil of petro-capitalism. Rather than see oil-dependency as a source of predation or as a source of state military power, I explore how oil capitalism produces particular sorts of enclave economies and particular sorts of governable spaces characterised by violence and instability. To do so, the qualities of oil in relation to predation matter (oil and diamonds are after all very different sources of predation: see Le Billon 2001). But so do the powers of transnational oil companies, the character of what I call 'the oil complex', and the ways in which oil as a territorially-based and nationalised commodity can become the basis for making claims. Unlike the work of Collier and others, I seek to trace the varieties of violence engendered by oil, to elaborate the ways in which resources, territoriality and identity can constitute forms of rule (or unrule), and understand the genesis of economies of violence that emerge from differing sorts of governable (or ungovernable) spaces. Black Gold and Niger Delta The Niger delta is a vast sedimentary basin constructed through successive layers of sediments dating back 40-50 million years to the Eocene epoch. A classic arcuate delta covering almost 70,000 square kilometres, the Niger delta is also endowed with very substantial hydrocarbon deposits. Crude oil production currently runs at almost two million barrels per day, roughly 90 per cent by value of Nigerian export revenues. Nigeria is not only the largest producer of petroleum in Africa and is among the world's top 10 oil producers but, in the wake of September 11 and the current west Asia crisis, it is being pursued by the Bush administration as a major supplier for the US market. The contemporary geo-strategic significance of the Niger delta has emerged from an astonishing ethnic and linguistic complexity, and from a recent history of economic and political irrelevance. There are five major linguistic categories (Ijoid, Yoruboid, Edoid, Igboid and Delta Cross), but each embraces a profusion of ethno-linguistic heterogeneity. The establishment of the Nigerian colony and the imposition of indirect rule in the early 1900s marked an end to the brief period of commercial vitality associated with the commercialisation of palm oil across the region in the 19th century. For most of the first half of the 20th century, the delta was an economic and political backwater. In the gradual transition to independence in the 1950s, the so-called ethnic minorities voiced their concerns to the departing British administrators that their interests in a Nigerian federation dominated by three ethnic majorities (the Hausa, the Yoruba and the Ibo) were to all intents and purposes invisible. What was true at the moment of imperial departure only became more so as the post-colonial period got under way. The onset of commercial petroleum production in the heart of the delta in 1956 - discovered in Oloibiri in current Bayelsa state - seemed to hold out the promise of rapid development for the ethnic minorities. But instead, the presence of transnational oil companies in joint ventures with the Nigerian state (through the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC)) produced enormous environmental despoliation and a crisis in extant forms of livelihood. By the 1970s and 1980s, a number of ethnic communities had begun to mobilise against the so-called 'slick alliance' of oil companies and the Nigerian military. Most famously, the movement for the survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) led by Ken Saro-Wiwa challenged Shell for its environmental despoliation and human rights violations and the Nigerian state for its unjust control of 'their oil'. Saro-Wiwa and the MOSOP leadership were executed by the Nigerian military in 1995, but since that time the Niger delta has become a zone of intense conflict as more oil-producing minorities (for instance, the Adoni, the Itsekiri, the Ijaw) clamour for compensation and for the recognition of their claims for resource control. As I write, substantial coverage in the world press has been devoted to a group of delta women who have occupied Chevron oil refineries, demanding company investments and jobs for indigenes.14 I want to make three important points about oil in Nigeria. The first is that oil capitalism operates through what I call an 'oil complex' (comparable in, say, Venezuela or Gabon or Indonesia) involving a statutory monopoly over mineral exploitation (the 1969 Petroleum Law in Nigeria, reinforced by a number of key laws including the 1978 Land Use Decree), a nationalised oil company (NNPC) that operates through joint ventures with oil majors who are granted territorial concessions (blocs), the security apparatuses of the state (and the companies) to ensure that costly investments are secured, the oil producing communities, and apolitical mechanism (in Nigeria called the 'derivation principle') by which federal oil revenues are distributed to the states [Ibeanu 2003, Anugwom 2001]. This oil complex - rather than a laundry list of oil-attributes a la Ross, is key to understanding the relations between oil and violence. The second is that this oil complex matters profoundly to the character and dynamics of Nigerian development. Oil is, of course, a biophysical entity (a subterranean fluid capable of being pumped and transmitted); it is also a commodity that enters the market with its price tag, and as such is the bearer of particular relations of production. And, not least, oil harbours fetishistic qualities: it is the bearer of meanings, hopes, expectations of unimaginable powers. Not unexpectedly, oil is a constant in the popular Nigerian imagination [Watts 2000], resplendent with all manner of brilliant and unctuous qualities. The third point is that Nigerian petro-capitalism contained a sort of double-movement, a contradictory unity of capitalism and modernity captured in the fact that oil production in Nigeria has always been a joint venture, currently with 14 transnational companies, in which joint operating agreements determine the distribution of royalties and rents. On the one hand, oil has been a centralising force that has rendered the state more visible and globalised, underwriting a process of secular nationalism and state building. On the other, a corrupt and undisciplined oil-led development, driven by an unremitting political logic of ethnic claims-making, has fragmented and discredited the state and its forms of governance. It has produced a set of conditions that have compromised and undermined the very tenets of the modern nation state. Coronil (1997) refers to this conundrum as 'the Faustian trade of money for modernity', which in Venezuela brought 'the illusion of development'. In Nigeria, too, the double movement brought illusion and produced forms of governable spaces that questioned the very idea of Nigeria, spaces that generated forms of rule, conduct and imagining at cross purposes with one another, antithetical to the very idea of a coherent modern nation state that oil, in the mythos of the west, represented. Economies of Violence and Governable Spaces Government, for Michel Foucault (2000), referred famously to the 'conduct of conduct', a more or less calculated and rational set of ways of shaping conduct and securing rule through a multiplicity of authorities and agencies in and outside the state and at a variety of spatial levels. In contrast to forms of pastoral power in the middle ages from which a sense of sovereignty was derived, Foucault charted an important historical shift, beginning in the 16th century, toward government as a right manner of disposing things 'so as to not lead to the common good...but to an end that is convenient for each of the things governed' (2000: 211). The new practices of the state, as Mitchell Dean (1999:16) says, shape human conduct by 'working through our desire, aspirations, interests and beliefs for definite but shifting ends'. It was Foucault's task to reveal the genealogy of government, and the origins and modern power, the fabrication of a modern identity. The conduct of conduct - governmentality - could be expressed as pastoral, disciplinary or as biopower. Modern governmentality was rendered distinctive by the specific forms in which the population and the economy were administered, and specifically by a deepening of the 'governmentalisation of the state' (how sovereignty comes to be articulated through the populations and the processes that constitute them). What was key for Foucault was not the displacement of one form of power by another, nor the historical substitution of feudal by modern governmentality, but the complex triangulation involved in sustaining many forms of power put to the purpose of security and regulation [Foucault 2000: 219]. On this theoretical canvas, I seek to explore the relations between two interrelated aspects of governmentality.15 One is what Foucault explicitly refers to as relations between men and resources (in my case, people and oil in the Niger delta) as an expression of his complex notion of the governance of things. As he put it: On the contrary, in [the modern exercise of power], you will notice that the definition of government in no way refers to territory: one governs things. But what does this mean? I think this is not a matter of opposing things to men, but rather of showing that what government has to do with is not territory but, rather, a sort of complex composed on men and things. The things, in this sense, with which government is to be concerned are in fact men, but men in their relations, their links, their imbrication with those things that are wealth, resources, means of subsistence, the territory with its specific qualities, climate, irrigation, fertility, and so on; men in their relation to those other things that are customs, habits, ways of acting and thinking and so on; and finally men in relation to those still other things that might be accidents and misfortunes such as famines, epidemics, death and so on...What counts is essentially this complex of men and things; property and territory are merely one of its variables (2000: 208-209) The other aspect of governmentality that I use is taken from Rose's notion of 'governable spaces' as they emerge from the analytics of government detailed above. For Rose, governable spaces and the spatialisation of government, are 'modalities in which a real and material governable world is composed, terraformed, and populated' (1999: 32). The scales upon which government is 'territorialised' - territory is derived from terra, land, but also terrere, to frighten - are myriad: the factory, the neighbourhood, the commune, the region, the nation. Each of these governable spaces has its own topology and is modelled, as Rose puts it - through systems of cognition and remodelled through government practice - in a way that frames how such topoi have emerged: the social thought and practice that has territorialised itself upon the nation, the city, the village or the factory. The map has been central to this process as a mode of objectification, marking and inscribing but also as 'a little machine for producing conviction in others' (1999: 37). But in general it was geography that formed 'the art whose science was political economy'.16 Modern space and modern governable spaces were produced by the biological (the laws of population which determine the qualities of the inhabitants) and the economic (the systems of the production of wealth). Governable spaces necessitate the territorialising of governmental thought and practice but are simultaneously produced as differing scales by the cold laws of political economy. The Nigerian oil complex can be grasped in territorial terms, taking as my cue Nikolas Rose's point about enclosures: 'Governmental thought territorialises itself in different waysWe can analyse the ways in which the idea of a territorially bounded , politically governed nation state under sovereign authority took shapeOne can trace anomalous governmental histories of smaller-scale territoriesand one can also think of these [as] spaces of enclosure that governmental thought has imagined and penetratedhow [does it] happen that social thought territorialises itself on the problem of [for example] the slum in the 19th century?' [Rose 1999: 34-36]. I want to think about the genesis of differing sorts of governable spaces in Nigeria as part of a larger landscape of what Dean calls 'authoritarian governmentality', that is to say an articulation of generalised uses of the instruments of repression with bio-politics. As he says (1999: 209), 'it regards its subjects' capacity for action as subordinate to the expectation of obedience'. I want to root these spaces and forms of power in the logic of petro-capitalist development, that is to say a particular sort of extractive development which is generative of differing sorts of scale, or the 'politics of scale' as Neil Smith (1992) calls it. My analysis conversely charts the relations between oil and violence, but does so through examining how forms of governable (or un-governable) spaces are generated by the baneful twins of authoritarian government and petro-capitalism. To do so, I will turn briefly to governable spaces, and to three in particular that I shall refer to as the space of chieftainship, the space of indigeneity, and the space of the nation state. Space of Chieftainship Nembe community17 in Bayelsa state stands at the originary point of Nigerian oil production. In the 1950s, the Tennessee Oil Company (a US Company) began oil explorations there but oil was not found until much later when Shell D'Arcy unearthed the Oloibiri oil field in Ogbia. Subsequent explorations led to the opening of the large and rich Nembe oil fields near the coast in Okpoama and Twon-Brass axis. Currently, the four Nembe oil fields produce approximately 1,50,000 barrels of high quality petroleum through joint operating agreements between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), AGIP and Shell. If Nembe is the ground zero of oil production, it is also a theatre of extraordinary violence and intra-community conflict, the result of intense competition over political turf and the control of benefits from the oil industry. The violence can be traced back to the late 1980s when the Nembe Council of chiefs acquired power from then king, justice Alagoa Mingi IX, to negotiate royalties and other benefits with the oil companies. The combination of youth-driven violence and intense political competition has transformed Nembe's system of governance and set the stage for further challenges to the traditional authority of chieftainship [Kemedi 2000, HRW 2002].18 Oil became commercially viable in 1970s, but to grasp its transformative effects on Nembe politics and community - that is to its genesis as a distinctive governable space - requires an understanding of chieftainship in the delta. Indirect rule in the colonial period certainly left much of the Niger delta marginalised and isolated, but it also, in the name of tradition, built upon and frequently invented chiefly powers of local rule which in the Nembe case were grafted onto a deep and complex structure of kingship and gerontocratic rule. To understand the dynamics of Nembe as a governable space recall that land lay in hands of customary authorities (notwithstanding the fact that the 1969 petroleum law granted the state the power to nationalise all oil resources). Land rights and therefore claims on oil royalties were, from the outset, rooted in the amayanabo (king), and derivatively the subordinate powers, namely, the council of chiefs and the executive council. Historically, the Nembe community possessed a rigid political hierarchy consisting of the amayanabo presiding over, in descending order, the chiefs (or heads of the war canoe houses19 ) elected by the entire war canoe houses constituted by their prominent sons. Although the chiefs were subservient to the amayanabo, they acted as his closest advisers, supporting him in the event of military threat and, in turn, were responsible for electing the amayanabo from the Mingi group of Houses, or the royal line. The current Nembe council of chiefs is the assemblage of the recognised chiefs of Nembe 'chalked' by the king.20 Accordingly, in 1991, the Nembe monarch's ineffectiveness in dealing with the oil companies led to a radical decentralisation of his powers to the council of chiefs, headed by chief Egi Adukpo Ikata. Insofar as the council now dealt directly with Shell, and handled large quantities of money paid by the oil companies, competition for election to the council intensified as various political factions struggled for office. By 2000, the council had expanded from 26 to 90 persons. Coeval with the evisceration of kingly powers, the deepening of the council mandate, and the expansion of the council members, was a subtle process of 'youth mobilisation'. In an age-graded society like the Nembe Ijaw, youth refers to persons typically between their teens and early forties who, whatever achievements they may have obtained (university degrees, fatherhood and so on), remain subservient to their elders. Central to any understanding of the emergence of a militant youth in Nembe town was the catalytic role played by a former company engineer with Elf Oil company named Nimi B P Barigha-Amage. He deployed his knowledge of the oil industry to organise the youths of the Nembe community into a force capable of extracting concessions from the oil companies, in essence, by converting cultural organisation into protection services. Chief Ikata was quick to exploit the awareness and restiveness of the youths to pressure Shell into granting community entitlements. A pact between chief Ikata and the young engineer was in effect instituted; the engineer supplied the youths with information regarding community entitlements, and the chief deployed his knowledge of military logistics to organise the shutting down of flow stations, the seizure of equipment and sabotage [Alagoa 2001, HRW 2002]. Armed with insider knowledge of the companies and an understanding of a loosely defined set of rules regarding company compensation for infringements on community property, Barigha-Amage pushed for the creation of youth 'cultural groups' which gradually, with the support of some members of the council of chiefs, intermediated with oil companies and their liaison officers, and manipulated the system of compensation in the context of considerable juridical and legal ambiguity. Liaison officers, colluding with community representatives, invented ritual or cultural sites that had ostensibly been compromised or damaged by oil operations, for which monies exchanged hands. As the opportunities for appropriating company resources in the name of compensation became visible through the success of the cultural groups, other sections of the youth community began to organise in turn around clan and familial affiliations. In 1994, for example, a group called 'House of Lords' (Isongoforo) was created by a former university lecturer, Lionel Jonathan, and a year later in 1995, the wife of a well-placed military officer, Ituro Garuba established Agbara-foro. Inevitably, with much at stake financially, and control of the space between community and company in the balance, conflicts within and among youth groups proliferated and deepened. In turn, growing community militancy spilled over into often-violent altercations with the much-detested mobile police ('Mopos') and local government authorities. The regional state and governor attempted to intervene as conditions deteriorated but a government report, on which such action was predicated, was never released for political reasons. A subsequent banning of youth groups had, as a result, no practical effect [HRW 2002]. Slowly, the subversion of royal authority, the strategic alliances between youth and chiefs, and the growing (and armed) conflict between youth groups for access to Shell resulted in the ascendancy of a highly militant Isongoforo. In an environment of rampant insecurity and lawlessness, occupation and closure of flow stations, and tensions between the companies, the service companies and local security forces, Isongoforo was provided 'stand by' payments by the companies (that is to say, it was hired for protection purposes), even as it colluded with the community liaison officers to invent compensations cases. Isongoforo occupied the centre of a new governable space which it ruled through force rather than any sense of consent or customary authority. This quasi-mafia was funded by the large quantities of monies that it commanded from the companies, and by the arms which it controlled. This volatile state of affairs collapsed dramatically as local resentments and struggles proliferated. In February 2000, a 'people's revolution' overthrew Isongoforo, ostensibly precipitated by the humiliation of the council of chiefs at the hands of Shell (backed by the intimidating Isongoforo forces). The chiefs now orchestrated the occupation of flow stations and undermined the powers of Isongoforo by recruiting and supporting other youth groups. By May 2000 Isongoforo had been sent into exile but it was promptly replaced in the wake of Barigha-Amage's return as high chief of Nembe, by his own 'cultural group' Isenasawo/Teme. Teme instituted a rule of terror and chaos far worse than its predecessors. It too proved unstable in the context of excessive youth mobilisation and split into two factions which subsequently produced two 'counter coups' and much bloodshed. A government peace commission was established in January 2001 in a desperate effort to bring peace to one of the jewels in the oil-producing crown [Alagoa 2001, NDWC 2000]. Much of this later violence (after 1996) could not be regulated by the state authorities because of its concurrence with the 1999 elections in which some of the key youth leaders were expected to deliver votes for the incumbent gubernatorial race. In the creation of what, in effect, was a sort of vigilante rule, there were complex complicities between chiefs, youth groups, local security forces, and the companies. Plans to occupy oil flow stations (for purposes of extortion) were often known in advance and involved collaboration with local company engineers; youths were de facto company employees providing protection services, and local compensation and community officers of Shell and AGIP produced fraudulent compensation cases and entitlements. Nembe, a town with its own long and illustrious history and politics, had become a sort of company town in which authority had shifted from the king to warring factions of youth who were in varying ways in the pay of, and working in conjunction with, the companies. The council of chiefs stood in a contradictory position, seeking to maintain control over revenues from the companies and yet intimidated and undermined by the militant youth groups on whom it depended. In the context of a weak and corrupt state, the genesis of this power nexus bears striking resemblances to the genesis of the Mafia in 19th century Sicily [Blok 1974]. What I have described is the displacement of a specific form of power (chieftainship) by a governable space of civic vigilantism, a thickening of civil society that does not necessarily imply the basis of the kind of governance put forth by Granovetter, Putnam and others [Putnam 2000] - that is, the self-organising networks that arise out of the interactions between a variety of organisations and agencies. Civic powers have expanded by overthrowing a territorial system and a gerontocratic royal order. Youth mobilisation - whose political affiliations and ambitions in any case were complex because they reflected an unstable amalgam of clan, family and local electoral loyalties - had thrown up an identity and subject that was indisputably revolutionary, representing an unholy alliance between civic organisations (presenting themselves as cultural organisations) and private companies. Rule in Nembe is a realm of privatised violence, a form of consent by a form of force. Government here turns on what Foucault (2000: 208-09) calls 'men in their imbrication with wealth and resources' - the government of men and things, as opposed to territory. It is institutionalised through forms of calculability, techne, and visibility that emerge from the legal and company dispositions to regulate local populations backed by the forces of repression. The governable subject is de facto a sort of employee, and rule is a Gramscian 'war of position'. Culture serves as the form by which company rule is experienced - violent youth groups - but in a way that renders the space increasing ungovernable. Space of Indigeneity The Niger delta is a region of considerable, even bewildering, ethno-linguistic complexity. The eastern region of which the delta is part is dominated statistically by the Ibo majority, but there is a long history of excluded ethnic minorities in the delta dating back at least to the 1950s when the Willinck Commission took note of the inter-ethnic complexity of the region. Throughout the colonial period prior to arrival of commercial oil production, there had been efforts by various minorities, who saw themselves as dominated by the Ibo, to established native authorities of their own. In the 1960s prior to the outbreak of civil war, two charismatic local figures, both Ijaw - Nottingham Dick and Isaac Boro - declared a delta republic, a desperate cry for some sort of political inclusion that lasted a mere 12 days. The ill-fated Delta People's Republic of 1966 was the forerunner of what is now a prairie fire of ethnic mobilisation by the historically excluded minorities - now tagged as 'indigenous' in order to capture the political and legal legitimacy conferred by the International Labour Organisation of the United Nations (ILO169) [Brysk 2000, Nelson 1999]. The paradigmatic case in the delta is the struggle by Ken Saro-Wiwa and the movement for the survival of the Ogoni people (MOSOP). Their case reveals a rather different sort of governable space, one marked by ethnic subjects and indigenous territory. The Ogoni are typically seen as a distinct ethnic group, consisting of three subgroups and six clans dotted over 404 sq miles of creeks, waterways and tropical forest in the north-east fringes of the Niger delta. Located administratively in Rivers State, a Louisiana-like territory of some 50,000 sq km, Ogoniland is one of the most heavily populated zones in all of Africa. The most densely settled areas of Ogoniland - over 1,500 persons per sq. km - are also the sites of the largest oil wells. Ogoniland's customary productive base was provided by fishing and agricultural pursuits until the discovery of petroleum, including the huge Bomu field, immediately prior to independence. Part of an enormously complex regional ethnic mosaic, the Ogoni were drawn into internecine conflicts within the delta region, largely as a consequence of the slave trade and its aftermath, in the period prior to arrival of colonial forces at Kono in 1901. The Ogoni resisted the British until 1908 [Naanen 1995] but thereafter were left to stagnate as part of the Opopo division within Calabar province. As Ogoniland was gradually incorporated during the 1930s, the clamour for a separate political division grew at the hands of the first pan-Ogoni organisation, the Ogoni Central Union, which bore fruit with the establishment of the Ogoni native authority in 1947. In 1951, however, the authority was forcibly integrated into the eastern region. Experiencing tremendous neglect and discrimination, integration raised longstanding fears among the Ogoni of Ibo domination.21 Politically marginalised and economically neglected, the delta minorities feared the growing secessionist rhetoric of the Ibo and consequently led an ill-fated secession of their own in February 1966. Ogoni antipathy to what they saw as a sort of internal colonialism at the hands of the Ibo led to their support of the federal forces during the civil war. While a Rivers State was established in 1967 - which compensated in some measure for enormous Ogoni losses during the war - the new state recapitulated in microcosm the larger 'national question'. The new Rivers State was multi-ethnic but presided over by the locally dominant IJaw, for whom the minorities felt little but contempt.22 During the first oil boom of the 1970s, Ogoniland's 56 wells accounted for almost 15 per cent of Nigerian oil production23 and in the past three decades an estimated $ 30 billion in petroleum revenues have flowed from this Lilliputian territory. It was, as local opinion had it, 'Nigeria's Kuwait'. Yet according to a government commission, Oloibiri, where the first oil was pumped in 1958, has no single kilometre of all-season road and remains 'one of the most backward areas in the country' (cited in Furro 1992: 282, see also Okonta and Douglas 2001). Rivers State saw its federal allocation fall dramatically in absolute and relative terms. At the height of the oil boom, 60 per cent of oil production came from Rivers State but it received only 5 per cent of the statutory allocation (roughly half of that received by Kano, north-eastern states and the Ibo heartland, east-central state). Between 1970 and 1980 it received in revenues one 158th of the value of the oil it produced. Few Ogoni households have electricity, there is one doctor per 1,00,000 people, child mortality rates are the highest in the nation, unemployment is 85 per cent, 80 per cent of the population is illiterate and close to half of Ogoni youth have left the region in search of work. Life expectancy is barely 50 years, substantially below the national average. If Ogoniland failed to see the material benefits from oil, what it did experience was an ecological disaster - what the European parliament has called 'an environmental nightmare'. The heart of the ecological harms stems from oil spills - either from the pipelines which criss-cross Ogoniland (often passing directly through villages) or from blow-outs at the wellheads - and gas flaring. As regards the latter, a staggering 76 per cent of natural gas in the oil producing areas is flared (compared to 0.6 per cent in the US). As a visiting environmentalist noted in 1993 in the delta, 'some children have never known a dark night even though they have no electricity'.24 Burning 24 hours per day at temperatures of 13-14,000 degrees Celsius, Nigerian natural gas produces 35 million tonnes of CO2 and 12 million tonnes of methane, more than the rest of the world (making Nigeria probably the biggest single cause of global warming). The oil spillage record is even worse. There are roughly 300 spills per year in the delta and in the 1970s alone the spillage was four times than the much publicised Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. In one year alone, almost 7,00,000 barrels were soiled according to a government commission. Ogoniland itself suffered 111 spills between 1985 and 1994.25 Figures provided by the NNPC document 2,676 spills between 1976 and 1990, 59 per cent of which occurred in Rivers State [Ikein 1990: 171], 38 per cent of which were due to equipment malfunction.26 Between 1982 and 1992 Shell alone accounted for 1.6 million gallons of spilled oil, 37 per cent of the company's spills worldwide. The consequences of flaring, spillage and waste for Ogoni fisheries and farming have been devastating. Two independent studies completed in 1997 reveal total petroleum hydrocarbons in Ogoni streams at 360 and 680 times the European Community permissible levels [Rainforest Action Network 1997, HRW 1999]. The hanging of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the 'Ogoni Nine' in November 1995 - accused of murdering four prominent Ogoni leaders - and the subsequent arrest of 19 others on treason charges, represented the summit of a process of mass mobilisation and radical militancy which had commenced in 1989. MOSOP necessarily built upon previous cultural and political organisations like the Ogoni Klub and Kagote (both elite organisations) and most especially the Ogoni politician Naaku Paul Birabi who established in 1950 the Ogoni state representatives association to promote Ogoni interests in the new eastern region government. The civil war hardened the sense of external dominance among Ogonis. A 'supreme cultural organisation' called Kagote which consisted largely of traditional rulers and high-ranking functionaries, was established at the war's end and in turn gave birth in 1990 to MOSOP. A new strategic phase began in 1989 with a programme of mass action and passive resistance on the one hand and a renewed effort to focus on the environmental consequences of oil (and Shell's role in particular) and on group rights within the federal structure. Animating the entire struggle was, in Leton's words, the 'genocide being committed in the dying years of the 20th century by multinational companies under the supervision of the government' (cited in Naanen 1995: 66). A watershed moment in MOSOP's history was the drafting in 1990 of an Ogoni Bill of Rights [Saro-Wiwa 1992]. Documenting a history of neglect and local misery, the Ogoni Bill took head on the question of Nigeria federalism and minority rights. Calling for participation in the affairs of the republic as 'a distinct and separate entity', the Bill outlined a plan for autonomy and self- determination in which there would be guaranteed 'political control of Ogoni affairs by Ogoni people...the right to control and use a fair proportion of Ogoni economic resources...(and) adequate representation as of right in all Nigerian national institutions' [Saro-Wiwa 1990: 11]. In short, the Bill of Rights addressed the question of the unit to which revenues should be allocated - and derivatively the rights of minorities [HRW 1999, Okonta 2002]. At the heart of Saro-Wiwa's vision was an Ogoni state. In spite of the remarkable history of MOSOP between 1990 and 1996, its ability to represent itself as a unified pan-Ogoni organisation remained an open question. There is no pan-Ogoni myth of origin (characteristic of some delta minorities), and a number of the Ogoni subgroups (clans) engender stronger local loyalties than any affiliation to Ogoni 'nationalism'. Gokana clan for example was the most populous and well-educated and its elites wielded disproportionate influence in Ogoni. Conversely, the Eleme clan-head did not even sign the Ogoni Bill of Rights and Eleme's leading historian has argued that they are not in fact Ogoni [Ngofa 1988]. In 1994, Eleme leaders proposed the creation of Nchia state which comprised non-Ogonis from Bonny, Andoni, Opobo and Etche, thereby turning their backs on Saro-Wiwa's goal [Okonta 2003]. Furthermore, the MOSOP leaders were actively opposed by elements of the traditional clan leadership, by prominent leaders and civil servants in state government, and by some critics who felt Saro-Wiwa was out to gain 'cheap popularity' [Osgahae 1995: 334]. Some Ogoni notables (Edward Kobani, Leton) aspired to participate in conventional politics by running for the two major parties rather than assisting in the birth of a nation. MOSOP, moreover, was a political movement of the elite led by the elite; it was not a mass movement and youth and women were not represented on its first steering committee. Gradually the youth wing of MOSOP, which Saro-Wiwa had used, emerged as militants but the leadership was often incapable of controlling it. MOSOP, in short, was wracked by tensions. There were as Okonta says 'cracks in the pot' (2003: 12). Saro-Wiwa built upon over 50 years of Ogoni organising and upon three decades of resentment against the oil companies, to provide a mass base and a youth-driven radicalism - and an international visibility - capable of challenging state power. Yet at its core the indigenous subject - and the indigenous space - was contentious and problematic. Ike Okonta (2002) has brilliantly shown, how in the Ogoni case, indigeneity unravelled into fragments of class, clan, generation and gender. These tensions came to the fore after Saro-Wiwa's death and MOSOP declined as rapidly as it had ascended. What sort of articulation of indigenous identity and political subjectivity did Saro-Wiwa pose? What sort of governable space did Ogoniland represent? It was clearly one in which territory and oil were the building blocks upon which ethnic difference and indigenous rights were constructed. And yet it was an unstable and contradictory sort of articulation. First, there was no simple sense of 'Ogoniness', no unproblematic unity, and no singular form of political subject (despite Saro-Wiwa's claim that 98 per cent of Ogonis supported him). MOSOP itself had at least five somewhat independent internal strands embracing youth, women, traditional rulers, teachers and churches. It represented a fractious and increasing divided 'we', as the splits and conflicts between Saro-Wiwa and other elite Ogoni confirms (Ogoni Crisis 1996).27 Second, Saro-Wiwa constantly invoked Ogoni culture and tradition yet he also argued that war and internecine conflict had virtually destroyed the fabric of Ogoni society by 1900 (1992: 14). His own utopia then rested on the recreation of Ogoni culture and suffered like all ur-histories from a quasi-mythic invocation of the past. Third, ethnicity was the central problem of post-colonial Nigeria - the corruption of ethnic majorities - and for Saro-Wiwa its panacea (the multiplication of ethnic minority power). To invoke the history of exclusion and the need for ethnic minority inclusion as the basis for federalism, led Saro-Wiwa to ignore the histories and geographies of conflict and struggle among and between ethnic minorities. Saro-Wiwa's brilliance, then, was to make MOSOP a green, indigenous movement (with international backing and visibility) and to take the movement to the poor and the young to secure a powerful identity, in the face of elite opposition (and his own marginal position in the 1980s). Saro-Wiwa's crowning glory was Ogoni national day on January 4, 1993 when he presided over the birth of the Ogoni flag, the Ogoni anthem and the National Youth Council of the Ogoni People. Paradoxically MOSOP surfaced as a foundational indigenous movement even though Ogoni's significance as an oil-producing region was diminishing. By the late 1990s moreover as a movement it had fallen apart and inter-group struggles deprived it of much of its previous momentum and visibility. But it gave birth to what one might call indigenous movements among oil producing communities. The same forces have spawned a raft of self-determination indigenous movements among Ijaw (INC, IYV), Isoko (IDU), Urhobo (UPU), Itsekiri (INP), Ogbia (MORETO) among others [Obi 2001]. MOSOP itself fell apart precisely as these other movements gained power. Since the return to civilian rule in 1999, there has been a rash of such minority movements across the delta calling for 'resource control', autonomy and a national sovereign conference to rewrite the Nigerian constitution. At the same time the delta has become ever more engulfed in civil strife: militant occupations of oil flow stations, pipeline sabotage, intra-urban ethnic violence, and the near-anarchy of state security operating in tandem with company security forces. The shock troops of many of these indigenous movements are youth and women, and the multiplication of ethnic youth movements is one of the most important political developments in contemporary Nigeria. And it is here that the politics of oil-producing communities meet up with the politics of oil-producing indigenous groups. What does the Ogoni case reveal, then, as a governable space? Particular 'populations' have been constructed as indigenous. As I explain below, this construction emerged from the nationalist struggle as customary rights were added to a discourse of citizenship. But the process received enormous energy as indigeneity as a political category garnered international support in the last part of the 20th century, a resource that Saro-Wiwa deployed brilliantly [Bob 2002]. The emergence of a national debate in Nigeria over resource control in the late 1990s is precisely a product of indigenous claims-making on the state, a process by which ethnic identifications must be discursively and politically produced. The Ogoni case shows that there is no pre-given ethnic identity, but complex and unstable genealogies of identification that have emerged in the last century [Li 1996]. The indigene has to be made - interpolated - around a strong sense of territory and tradition but in the context of cultural, economic and political heterogeneity. This was achieved through an imbrication of things and people - oil and ethnicity - and it has been generative of a profusion of indigenous movements. Indigeneity has in this sense unleashed the huge political energies of ethnic minorities who recapitulate in some respects the post-colonial history of spoils politics in Nigeria. The effect of this multi-ethnic mobilisation was the production of political and civic organisations and new forms of governable space, a veritable jigsaw of militant particularisms. The Kaiama Declaration in 1999 indicates that there is a pan-ethnic solidarity movement in the works, but its contours are at present limited [Douglas and Okonta 2001, ERA 1999]. As the Ogoni case shows, much of this visibility and identification turned on the invention and reinvention of tradition and local knowledge, with an eye to the Nigerian constitution and international politics [Nelson 1999]. This is a case of the multiplication of governable spaces which stand in some tension or even contradiction with each other - they account for the explosion of inter-ethnic tensions in the delta - and within the national space of Nigeria, to which I now turn. Space of Nationalism One of the striking aspects of the governable spaces of indigeneity as they emerge in the delta is that they become vehicles for political claims, typically articulated as the need for a local government or in some cases a state. Indigeneity necessarily raises the question of a third governable space, that of the nation state, an entity that pre-existed oil and came to fruition in 1960 at independence. Oil in this sense became part of the nation-building process - the creation of an 'oil nation'. Nature and nationalism become inextricably linked. But how did petro-capitalism - understood as a state-led, and thoroughly globalised, development strategy - stand in relation to the creation of the governable space called modern Nigeria? As Mamood Mamdani (1996, 2001) has observed, colonial rule and decentralised despotism were synonymous. The native authorities consolidated local class power in the name of tradition (ethnicity) and sustained a racialised view of civic rights. The nationalist movement had two wings, a radical and a mainstream. Both wished to deracialise civic rights but the latter won out and reproduced the dual legacy of colonialism. They provided civic rights for all Nigerians, but a bonus 'customary rights' for indigenous people. The country had to decide which ethnic groups were indigenous and which were not a basis for political representation, a process that became constitutionally mandated in Nigeria. Federal institutions are quota-driven for each state but only those indigenous to the state may apply for a quota. As Mamdani (1998: 7) puts it: The effective elements of the federation are neither territorial units called states nor ethnic groups but ethnic groups with their own statesGiven this federal character every ethnic group compelled to seek its own home its NA, its own state. With each new political entity the non-indigenes continues to grow. Once law enshrines cultural identity as the basis for political identity, it necessarily converts ethnicity into a political force. As a consequence, in Nigeria, clashes in the postcolonial period were ethnic, and such ethnic clashes, which dominated the political landscape in the last three decades, are always at root about customary rights to land and, derivatively, to a local government or to a state that can empower those on the ground as ethnically indigenous. Into this mix enters oil, that is to say a valuable, centralised (state-owned) resource. It is a national resource on which citizenship claims can be constructed. As much as the state uses oil to build a nation and to develop, so communities use oil wealth to activate community claims on what is seen popularly as unimaginable wealth - black gold. The governable space of Nigeria is as a consequence re-territorialised through ethnic claims-making [Suberu 2001, Adebayo 1993]. The result is that access to oil revenues amplifies what I call sub-national political institution-making; politics becomes then a massive state-making machine. This partly explains how, between 1966 and the present, the number of local governments has grown from 50 to almost 1000, and the number of states from 3 to 36! Nigeria as a modern nation state has become a machine for the production of ever more local political institutions. The logic is ineluctable and terrifying. What sort of national governable space emerges from such multiplication in which, incidentally, the political entities called states or local government areas (LGAs) become vehicles for massive corruption and fraud - or the disposal of oil revenues? The answer is that it works against precisely the creation of an imagined community of the sort that Benedict Anderson (1998) saw as synonymous with nationalism. Nation-building, whatever its style of imaging, rests in its modern form on a sort of calculation, integration, and state and bureaucratic rationality which the logic of rent-seeking, petro-corruption, ethnic spoils politics, and state multiplication works to systematically undermine. Lauren Berlant has said that every nation - and hence every governable national space - requires a 'national symbolic'; a national fantasy which 'designates how national culture becomes local through images, narratives and movements which circulate in the personal and collective unconsciousness' (1991: 61). My point is that the Nigerian national symbolic grew weaker and more attenuated as a result of the political economy of oil. There was no sense of the national fantasy at the local level; it was simply a big pocket of oil monies to be raided in the name of indigeneity. At independence, Obafemi Awolowo, the great western Nigerian politician, said that Nigeria was not a nation but a 'mere geographical expression'. Forty years later this is still true. What we have in other words is not nation-building - understood in the sense of a governable space - but perhaps its reverse: the 'unimagining' or deconstruction of a particular sense of national community. Nicos Poulantzas (1978) said that national or modern unity requires a historicity of a territory and a territorialisation of a history. Oil capitalism (and its attendant governmentality) in Nigeria has achieved neither of these requirements. The 'fictional' governable space called Nigeria was always something of a public secret. Forty years of post-colonial rule has made this secret both more public as ethnic segregation has continued unabated and undermined the very idea of the production of governable subjects. The double-movement of petro-capitalism within the frame of a modern nation state has eviscerated the governable space of the nation; it has compromised it and worked against a sense of governable subject. The same, incidentally, might be said of the impact of oil on the Muslim communities of Nigeria [Watts 1998: 2000]. Oil and identity - people and things - have produced an unimagined community on which the question of Nigeria's future hangs. Blood and Oil The entire history of petroleum is, as Daniel Yergin (1991) details in his encyclopaedic Whig account of the industry The Prize, replete with criminality, violence and the worst of frontier capitalism. Graft, autocratic thuggery, and the most grotesque exercise of imperial power are its hallmarks. As the US armoured divisions roll up the Iraqi oil corridor around Basra, this point hardly needs further empirical confirmation. And it is to be expected in an age of unprecedented denationalisation and market liberalisation - to say nothing of the horrific rise of the gas-guzzling sports utility vehicle in the US - the mad scramble to locate the next petrolic El Dorado continues unabated. Eastern Russia looks ever more like a slice of Mafiosi sovereignty. Petro-violence is rarely off the front pages of the press. The Caspian basin reaching from the borders of Afghanistan to the Russian Caucasus is a repository of enormous petro-wealth; Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and the southern Russian provinces (Ossetia, Dagestan, Chechnya) have however become, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a 'zone of civil conflict and war'.28 The oil companies jockey for position in an atmosphere of frontier vigilantism and what the Azerbaijani president calls 'armed conflict, aggressive separatism and nationalism'. Based on the Nigerian case, I have suggested that petro-capitalism operates through a particular sort of oil complex (a configuration of firm, state and community). The complex is strongly territorial, operating through local oil concessions. The presence and activities of the oil companies as part of the oil complex constitute a challenge to forms of community authority, inter-ethnic relations, and local state institutions principally through the property and land disputes that are engendered, and via forms of popular mobilisation and agitation to gain access to (i) company rents and compensation revenues, and (ii) the petro-revenues of the Nigerian state largely through the creation of regional and/or local state institutions. The complex generates differing sorts of governable spaces in which contrasting identities and forms of rule come into play; in some cases youth and generational forces are key, in some cases gender, in others the clan or the kingdom or the ethnic minority (or indigenous peoples), in some cases local chiefly or governmental authorities, and in others the forces of the local state. A striking aspect of contemporary development in Nigeria is the simultaneous production of differing forms of rule and governable space - different politics of scale [Smith 1992] - all products of similar forces and yet which work against, and often stand in direct contradiction to one another. I have focused on youth, the indigene or ethnic minority, and the nation. These idioms are inseparable from oil, but their forms of identification and the robustness of their spaces are often incompatible. Standing at the centre of each governable space is a contradiction: at the oil community, the overthrowing of gerontocratic authority but its substitution by a sort of violent Mafia youthful rule. At the level of the ethnic community is the tension between civic nationalism and a sort of exclusivist militant particularism. And at the level of the nation, one sees the contradiction between oil-based state centralisation and state fragmentation, or multiplication, as oil becomes a sort of generalised equivalent put to the service of massive corruption. I have tried to root these contradictions in the double-movement of petro-capitalism which is generative of an authoritarian governmentality constituted by the three forms of governable space that I have described. Such is the heart of the so-called crisis of the post-colonial state in Africa. It is in this sense that I invoke the idea of 'economies of violence' to characterise governmentality in contemporary Nigeria. Adress for correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org Notes [I am grateful to Oronto Douglas, Ike Okonta, Von Kemedi, Amita Baviskar, and Donald Moore for their suggestions and assistance.] 1 George Wright,'Wolfowitz: Iraq War was About Oil', Manchester Guardian, June 4, 2003. 2 Ike Okonta, 'Nigeria and the World', This Day, June 22, 2003, Sunday editorial. 3 Gal Luft, 'Africa Drowns in a Pool of Oil', Los Angeles Times,July 1, 2003. 4 See Catholic Relief Services, Bottom of the Barrel, 2003; Global Witness, Resources Conflict and Corruption, 2002; Fuelling Poverty, Christian Aid 2002; Mark Renner, The Anatomy of Resource Wars, Worldwatch Institute, Washington DC 2002; OXFAM, The Extractive Sector and the Poor, 2001. 5 See http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2000. 6 See http://www.eia.gov/emeu/cabs/nigeria.html. 7 Servant, Le Monde Diplomatique, January 13, 2003. 8 See http://www.iasps.org. 9 Anderson, J, 'Blood and Oil', The New Yorker, August 14, 2000, pp 46-59. 10 New York Times, October 14, 2001, III, 1. 11 Economists typically distinguish direct (so-called Dutch Disease) effects in which resource booms lead to recession, and indirect effects through rent seeking and institution-building. 12 For an elaborate critique of this position, see Peluso and Watts (2001). 13 Ross provides a shopping list of the consequences of oil: limited backward linkages, inelastic demand, labour extensive, subject to boom and bust cycles, subject to rent-seeking and so on. At the very least one needs to be clear how oil differs from other commodities (in order to be able to distinguish what is peculiar to oil as opposed to extraction in general), and to be able to distinguish what is it about the resource (and not the political context into which it is inserted) that can explain the so-called 'paradox of plenty' (see Catholic Relief Services (2003) as a case in point). 14 New York Times, August 13, 2002. 15 Some of these Foucauldian ideas have already been productively deployed in the understanding of nature and resource management - what one might call 'green governmentality' - and the relations between nature and nationalism. See Braun (2000). 16 Rhein quoted in Rabinow (1989: 142). 17 Nembe in its macro-usage refers to six towns (Bassimbiri, Ogbolomabiri, Okpoama, Odioma and Akassa ) that are among the 16 towns that comprise Nembe Kingdom. For the purposes of this paper, however, Nembe town refers to Ogbolomabiri only. 18 The data for the case study was collected during a visit to the Niger delta in January and February 2001. I also rely on the assistance on Von Kemedi and his work [Kemedi 2002] and the Nembe Peace Commission [Alagoa 2001]. 19 The war canoe houses were the units of the kingdom's defence forces. A war canoe house consisted of the head of the house and a formidable number of able-bodied men who were responsible for defending the house and the king. 20 There is a long running dispute over kingly authority that has spilled over into the establishment of local government areas (LGAs). In this paper I do not address the conflicts between Bassambiri and Ogbolamabiri (two contiguous towns) over the authority of their respective paramount chiefs, and disputes over LGA territory (and hence access to oil rents). 21 As constitutional preparations were made for the transition to home rule, non-Igbo minorities throughout the eastern region appealed to the colonial government for a separate Rivers State. Ogoni representatives lobbied the Willink Commission in 1958 to avert the threat of exclusion within an Ibo-dominated regional government which had assumed self-governing status in 1957 but minority claims were ignored [Okpu 1977, Okilo 1980]. 22 The Ogoni and other minorities petitioned in 1974 for the creation of a new Port Harcourt State within the Rivers State boundary [Naanen 1995: 63]. 23 According to the Nigerian government estimates, Ogoniland currently (1995) produces about 2 per cent of Nigerian oil output and is the fifth largest oil-producing community in Rivers State. Shell maintains that total Ogoni oil output is valued at $5.2 billion before costs. 24 Village Voice, November 21, 1995, pp 21. 25 Hammer, J, 'Nigerian Crude', Harper's Magazine, June 1996, pp 58-68. 26 The oil companies claim that sabotage accounts for a large proportion (60 per cent) of the spills, since communities gain from corporate compensation. Shell claims that 77 of 111 spills in Ogoniland between 1985 and 1994 were due to sabotage (Hammer 1996). According to the government commission, however, sabotage accounts for 30 per cent of the incidents but only 3 per cent of the quantity spilled. Furthermore, all oil producing communities claim that compensation from the companies for spills has been almost non-existent. 27 Saro-Wiwa was often chastised by Gokana (he himself was Bane) since most of the Ogoni oil was in fact located below Gokana soil. In other words, on occasion, the key territorial unit became the clan or clan territory rather than a sense of pan-Ogoni territory. 28 San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 1998, A8. References Adebayo, A (1993): Embattled Federalism, Peter Lang, New York. Alagoa, M (2001): The Report of the Nembe Peace and Reconciliation Committee, Port Harcourt. Anderson, B (1998): Imagined Communities, Verso, New York. Anderson, P (2001) 'Scurrying Towards Bethlehem', New Left Review, 10: 5-30. 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