Iwebunor Okwechime is a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he teaches courses on global environmental politics, international economic relations and the politics of energy resources. He studied at the University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University, where he received his PhD. He is currently a Catalyst Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University Edinburgh, United Kingdom. He was Leventis African Visiting Scholar at SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom in 2015, American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) African Humanities Programme (AHP) Visiting Scholar at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2016; and the University of Edinburgh Catalyst Fellow in 2019. His articles have been published in various journals focusing on international relations, oil and environmental politics in Nigeria, and the press and democratic struggles in Nigeria. His recent publications include “In Search of “Greener Pitches”: African Footballers and Labour Market Migration in European Football” (2019), “Africa and the Global Economic and Financial Crisis” (2016), and “Oil and Human Security Challenges in Nigeria"(2016). He has recently co-edited State, Governance and Security in Africa (2016). His current research interests include spiritualty and resistance in Nigeria’s oil-bearing region; African labour market migration in European football and Chinese leagues.
Technology has impacted (and still impacting) resistance in the Niger Delta in innumerable ways. Polluted creeks and farmlands provide youth with important sites in which to engage not only in transformative activism but also in search for meaning, belonging or identity. In the Niger Delta’s turbulent history spirituality and resistance have played a critical role in social and political change. During the 19th century, organized resistance associated with spiritual traditions, contributed significantly to turning the historical tide against the Royal Niger Company and its oppressive rule in that region (Asiegbu, 1984; Alagoa, 2001; 2004; Ikime, 2008; Tamuno, 2011). However, since the advent of petroleum in the late 1950s, conditions surrounding and within the Niger Delta environment have altered significantly. With this, the role and contribution of spirituality in resistance have also changed. This study seeks to explore the ways in which environmental pollution and degradation in the context of market forces have impacted on resistance struggles in the Niger Delta, with particular reference to the Ijaw people in this part of the region. In doing so, it focuses on the exploitation of oil and gas and their impact on the economy, the environment and the people. The study addresses the following research questions: In what way(s) does environmental destruction alter the experience of resistance or create entirely new experiences? What does spirituality offer that is not found in the routines of modern resistance? To what extent does spirituality confer meaning, sense of belonging and identity to dispossessed youth engaged in resistance struggle? What are the similarities and differences between sacred and secular resistances? And how do the contradictions these generate impact the resistance?