The International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Council for Africa invite you to a seminar on rising militancy in the Niger Delta. The main speaker at the seminar will be Cyril Obi of the Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Comments by Scott Gates, Centre for the Study of Civil War, PRIO. The seminar will be chaired by Åshild Kolås, PRIO. The latest wave of attacks on oil installations and kidnapping of foreign oil workers presents a new challenge to the tensions in Nigeria's paradoxically oil-rich, but impoverished Niger Delta region. Oil pollution, poverty, perceived discriminatory employment practices in the oil industry and socio-political grievances are coming to a head as Nigeria approaches another General Election in 2007. The combustible mix of festering grievances: marginalization, neglect, exploitation and repression, and a governance crisis have fed into escalating violence, increasingly represented by youth militancy and increased militarization of the oil rich region. In the ensuing melee, the state, oil companies and oil communities have become both actors, targets, perpetrators and victims, with far reaching consequences at the local, regional and international levels. What does this escalation of violence and youth militancy imply for Nigeria -- Africa's largest oil exporter and the security of multi-billion dollar oil and gas investments? What are the problems and prospects for justice, human development and sustainable peace in this troubled region?

For more information, please contact Camilla Houeland or Sigurd Jorde ** * About the participants:Cyril I. Obi is a researcher at Nordic Africa Institute (NAI). Obi holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Lagos. He was a Post-Doc Visiting Fellow at St Antony’s College Oxford. Prior to joining NAI in 2005, he became Associate Research Professor at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and was the 2004 Claude Ake Visiting Professor at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University. His subject areas are West Africa, Nigeria, conflict and peace, environmental politics and security, African politics and development.

Scott Gates is a Research Professor and Director of the Centre for the Study of Civil War (CSCW) at PRIO and Professor of Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He received is MA and PhD degrees in Political Science from University of Michigan and an MS degree in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota. From 1989-2003, Gates was at the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Gates current research interests include: civil war, applied game theoretic analysis, international relations theory, international political economy, formal models of bureaucracy, organization theory and econometric modeling. Recently he has been focusing on the issues of child soldiers recruitment.

Åshild Kolås is a researcher and programme leader of Conflict Resolution and Peace Building at PRIO. She has recently been working on a study on energy security and a study on China’s role in African oil industry.