Race, Ethnicity and Politics

The Politics of Eco-violence: Why Is Conflict Escalating in Nigeria’s Middle Belt?



Competition for natural resources has intensified in recent years between nomadic Fulani herders and sedentary farmers in Nigeria's Middle Belt. What were initially sporadic conflicts over cropland and water resources have transformed into daily occurrences of mass violence. While extant research centres on the root causes of such conflicts, the reasons for their escalation remain insufficiently understood. This article examines how political developments have contributed to the escalation of conflicts in the region. Using Homer-Dixon's model, the findings show that changes in Nigeria's 'political opportunity structure' since 2014 were catalysts for escalating the conflicts. The consequences were the unvarnished adoption of nepotistic domestic policies and alliances between elites and militia members, which escalated the violent conflicts. It advocates the devolution of natural resource and security governance to prevent leaders from leveraging shifts in political opportunity structures to favour a specific demographic group.

Version notes

The methodology part has been omitted from the paper, as have all fieldwork materials. The POS idea was expanded upon by conducting brief evaluations of the several opportunity structures within a political system and how the Nigerian environment fits into the typification. The concluding section has been rewritten to include more brief and achievable recommendations for transitioning Nigeria from a closed to an open opportunity system. The connectedness of eco-violence to other conflicts was addressed too. The phrase "eco-violence" has been widened to include aggressiveness toward humans, the environment, and the entire ecosystem. Additionally, several sections have been organised.


Thumbnail image of Why the escalations.mine-converted.pdf


Log in or register with APSA to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting and Discussion Policy [opens in a new tab] – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .