Between Nonviolence and Violence: A Comparative Analysis on the Dynamics of Choice in the Ogoni and Ijaw Movements in the Niger Delta

  • Zainab Mai-Bornu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Conflicts in the Niger Delta have reached a political brink that has attracted significant concerns and responsiveness at both local and international levels. Several theses have been centred around the recurring issues in the region, pointing to the argumentation of resource governance, marginalization, and neglect. While all these structural factors are valid and serve as the basis for understanding the grievances, a unique question still remains unanswered: why have the Ogoni and the Ijaw, which have in the region shared common, lived experiences, reacted differently to these problems? As this gap in the literature suggests, scholarship on the Niger Delta has tended to conflate these two distinct conflicts into one single movement of opposition and resistance. The current thesis argues that in order to better understand the undercurrents of the Niger Delta conflict, it is imperative to analyse the dynamics of choice in terms of the distinct courses of action taken by the two groups. Given the similar structural constraints, it is essential to consider why the Ogoni adopted nonviolent resistance, and the Ijaw violent resistance. This question builds on a rich scholarly literature, which situates the causal factors of the conflict within three broadly contextual, structural, explanations: the political, socio-economic and environmental ones. However, these common structural factors cannot explain the divergent political strategies the Ogoni and the Ijaw have adopted to respond to the crisis. The dissertation argues for the inclusion of other key factors, namely narratives, leadership and organisation. These three factors are important for explaining the ‘how’ and ‘why’ within the political trajectories of the Ogoni and Ijaw in terms of nonviolence and violence. This more nuanced perspective provides a new context to the knowledge that each group employs distinct strategies in constructing its conflict, hence, each group works towards some context specificity of their communities.
Date of Award23 Nov 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorScott Thomas (Supervisor) & Anna Bull (Supervisor)


  • Nigeria
  • Niger Delta
  • Conflict
  • Ogoni
  • Ijaw
  • Violence
  • Nonviolence

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