Title: Biofuel Production, Land grabbing and the Political economy of Climate Change in Central Nigeria: Local Struggles and Responses
Abstract: Since the dawn of the new millennium, there have been the global rushes for arable land in many African countries by transnational agri-business giants mainly from the developed countries like the United States of America, China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Japan and others. This practice involves the acquisition of vast tracts of cultivable African land by foreign governments and investors on the false pretense to modernize agriculture and boast food security, clean energy and generate employment. Land grabbing in Africa is induced by three forces which are undermining the means of livelihood of many rural economies. These include biofuel production aimed at reducing greenhouse emission which is a harbinger of global warming, food security and finance (global capitalism). Why are many hungry African countries signing away people’s ancestral land in the bid to pursue biofuels production intended to meet the energy needs of advanced economies even when they have not judiciously utilized the revenues from abundant fossil fuels (crude oil) sales? This paper makes three key arguments: 1) biofuel development have been driven by motives that do not favour or factor in the needs of rural African societies instead countries that foresee reduced domestic availability of suitable land for food production due to climate change and rapid population growth try to avoid future food shortage and high prices by producing food overseas (China being an example here), 2) as most developed countries set targets in their energy policies in attempts to cap greenhouse emission, they are searching outside their own jurisdiction for suitable and affordable land to grow crops for biofuels and forestation 3)there is, however, another link between land grabbing and climate change: intensified land use for the African host countries not only impairs immediate food and water availability at the local level, but also reduces local Communities’ resilience to engage with future climate change (hence, reducing their adaptive capacities). This, in turn, leads to serious and often irreversible socio-economic impact, such as the displacement of local communities. The paper further argues that the drivers of land grabbing in North Central Nigeria are multinational organizations from the Global North, developed countries, Nigerian ruling elite and state agencies and also argues that climate change innervates land grabbing which in turn intensifies rural economic poverty, powerlessness and injustice in different communities in this region. I further examine the patterns of local struggles against biofuel driven land grabbing by both organized grassroot civil society and community members such as protests, courts, letters, petitions and how the state and its international collaborators have responded. The paper concludes by recommending increased role of Civil Society Organization (CSOs), improved risk sharing, creation of legislative and institutional frameworks to curtail the massive sale of community lands by Nigerian state to foreign MNC. Political economy approach is adopted while primary and secondary sources of data are utilized. Primary data include oral interviews with men and women displaced as a result of land grabbing and government officials. Secondary literature like books, newspapers and magazines reports are used. Data were collected from ten communities across seven states within central Nigeria and were qualitatively analysed.
Bio: Dr. Danladi Abah is lecturer in the Department of History and International Studies, Kogi State University Anyigba, Nigeria. Danladi holds a B.A (Hons) History & International Studies from Kogi State University Anyigba and M.A and PhD degrees in History from Benue State University, Makurdi. A multiple award-winning researcher, Dr Danladi has over forty publications including three co-edited books. Danladi is twice Laureate of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a 2017 Ford and Rockdale Foundations sponsored Research Fellow at the West Africa Civil Society Institute and a 2022 Guest Research Fellow at the Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Germany. Dr Danladi has delivered public lectures within and outside Nigeria. Danladi is currently a fellow of the British Library, London, (EAP 2022-2023). A multidisciplinary scholar, Dr Danladi’s research interests straddle Philanthropy, Civil Society, Conflict, Shi’ism and African History. He is a member of the African Studies Association (ASA: USA), International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), Lagos Studies Association (LSA), Society for Peace Studies and Practice (SPSP) and Historical Society of Nigeria (HSN).
Danladi Abah, PhD
Department of History and International Studies,
Kogi State University, Anyigba, Nigeria