The subject of resource control and management in Nigeria has been a subject of fiery debates and audacious confrontations since the early 60s. The subject started gaining prominence with the presentation of the Ogoni Bill of Rights and the Kaiama Declaration in 1990 and 1998 respectively. Frontline Ijaw activists, Ken Saro-Wiwa and Major Isaac Adaka Boro were staunch advocates of resource control.
The power of the people in a defined geographical locale to control, manage and utilise natural resources deposited on their land and territorial waters for the sustainable development of their region is what resource control is all about. This implies that the community will wield substantial influence in granting of licenses, preparation of memoranda of understanding (MoU), monitoring environmental degradation, keeping accurate record of the volume of resources tapped and supervising the affairs of regulatory bodies like NNPC and MCO (Mining Cadastre Office).
Primarily, the essence of resource control is to ensure that the people in whose area natural resources are exploited play an active role in the activities of exploration companies so that these communities are not left with devastated environments and broken lives when the extractive companies wrap up their activities and leave such communities.
More often than not, resource control and other adjoining issues have been one of the major causes of most festering violence between extracting companies, the Nigerian government and host communities. These incessant conflicts have affected Nigeria and her peoples, especially vulnerable women and children, adversely.
It is in a bid to place Nigeria on the high tide of sustainable development that the 7th Sustainability in the Extractive Industries (SITEI) Conference themed Managing Conflict and Security in the Extractive Industries will focus on how issues like resource control can be properly addressed to foster peace and engender development.