Throughout 2016, there was a marked rise in violence in the Niger Delta not seen since the end of the first phase of militancy in 2009. While there are historical echoes to be sure, there are also distinct differences in dynamics that must be recognized in order to respond in a way that is relevant to the current context and effective to defuse a very combustible situation. Similarities include symbols, grievances, demands, and tactics of militant groups, and the people that they claim to represent. But the sociopolitical environment is different, and in some ways more complex this time around, posing a challenge to those tasked with the responsibility to respond. As tempting as it may be for analysts and policy makers to apply the same lens to both time periods, actors must strive to formulate responses that are comprehensive and do not deescalate one conflict driver only to exacerbate another.
The following briefing will summarize the interrelated conflict drivers common to both time periods, as well as differences. It will also suggest some potential approaches that bear these complexities in mind.