Vision – To become a first-rate Institute of its kind, pursuing excellence and applying critical skills, knowledge and alternative methods in resolving local and global deltaic challenges in Nigeria, Africa and the world.
Mission – To be a leading Institute accumulating and disseminating comprehensive scientific and scholarly data base on deltaic and wetland studies in the Niger Delta in comparison with other deltaic communities in Africa and the world.
The worsening trend of the negative impact of the activities of the Nigerian state and the oil companies on the economy and environment of the Niger Delta region will continue to deepen for many years to come as long as the state places higher premium on the extraction of natural resource and its accruals than on reversing the dire consequences on the people, their well-being and environment. The biological diversity of the River Niger delta is at the brink of extinction. Worse still, the legal, policy, programme and the institutional framework adopted for managing (instead of governing) oil and gas among other deltaic resources largely accounts for the protracted violent resource rights struggles with the attendant insecurity, oil theft, ram-shackled refineries, constant flaming and ‘shelling’ of the environment.
Expectedly, the Western Delta University [WDU] seeks to interrogate the consequences of oil production on the University’s immediate host communities in particular and the Delta region generally, paying attention to the sustainability of other natural resources, the people, their economy, socio-cultural lives, politics, human security and the underdevelopment of the region. It is in an attempt to redress the development crisis of the region that, the University’s Governing Council, at its meeting of September 26, 2013, formally approved the commencement of the Institute of Delta Studies (IDS).
The research policy of the IDS ensures, (i) Research projects and their findings proffer alternative and actionable strategies, programmes and projects aimed at redressing the social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges and human insecurity that the Delta region in Nigeria is faced with; (ii) Democratization of the governance of deltaic resources in the hope of promoting transparency, accountability and enabling the people, communities, sub-national and national governments to actualize their resources rights; (iii) Enthronement of ground-up and people-centered resource governance programmes and projects; (iv) Creation of relevant resource institutes and as well, to strengthen them where they already exist at the community, sub-national, national and international levels; (iv) Training target groups, youths, women, investors, the military and related agencies on the legal regimes of the water ways, security of forest resources, oil and gas and wetlands among others in order to mitigate unhealthy agitations, kidnapping, vandalism of the flow lines and promote peace, security in the Delta region and; (v) Promotion of comparative analyses of the experiences of other countries in the governance of deltaic resources and draw policy lessons.
The Institute’s objectives are:
- To produce, accumulate and disseminate comprehensive scientific and scholarly database on the Niger Delta in comparison with other deltaic resources and communities in Africa and the world;
- To conduct research on systematic documentation, inventory and taxonomy and use of wetlands, their geographical features, environment and the human ecologies and cultures that sustain them;
- To investigate on a continuing basis, short-term and long-term political, social, cultural and health problems that face the deltaic communities and their people; (iv) To function as the core research and dissemination centre through which the WDU will express its vision and mission;
- To conduct and sponsor ethnographic studies of the cultures, languages, folk, environmental knowledge, art and as well, cope with the mechanisms of communities in the complex milieu of the Delta region;
- To establish field research units in designated area within the immediate vicinity for pilot studies;
- To design academic support base for interns, visiting scholars, doctoral, post-doctoral and other courses (certificate and diploma) who have research project on the Delta region and resource governance;
- To collect, exhibit and study natural artifacts including fossils, flora and fauna, soil types, rocks of scientific value and archeological finds that can aid research into the natural endowments of the Niger Delta;
- To build strong, open and accountable state institutions involved in natural resource governance; to promote and strengthen citizens’ engagement including women and youth in the development of the deltaic resources and; to help to enthrone the rule of law, justice and equity in governance of the delta resources at local, national, regional and global levels and;
- To organize workshops and training programmes on safety, human and environmental security and the legal regimes governing the waterways for the military, paramilitary agencies, investors in oil and gas (local and foreign) among others.
Having contextualized the Niger Delta as an exploitable natural resource and defined the framework for governing its resources, the Institute’s programmes are major development issues derived from the contradictions engendered by the policy and politics that inform the management of deltaic resources and their communities by the Nigerian state, domestic and foreign capital, community-based organizations, families and individuals. In particular, issues such as the politics of natural resource struggles, environmental sustainability, human insecurity and underdevelopment of the Niger Delta are very crucial. The programmes problematize the governance of deltaic resources and the communities in the Delta region and other deltas. They are compared with the experiences of other African deltaic countries and the world in the hope of drawing up policy issues, programmes and projects.
The Institute’s programmes shall be implemented through basic and applied researches, special public lectures, commissioned guest lecturers, fellowships, special-target workshops, seminars and conferences, using network of scholars whose expertise covers the mitigation of the challenges facing deltaic communities. On account of the nature of the governance of deltaic resources across regions globally, the Institute defines its own independent approach, while it collaborates and strengthens existing resource governance institutions. Its research methodology is comparative, multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial with high premium placed on field-based evidences. At its first phase, the programmes of the Institute shall span the period, 2014-2020, which will be reviewed periodically.