Journal of Rural Community Psychology               Volume E8   Number 2   Fall 2005

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING OF INHABITANTS AROUND

OIL AND GAS PROJECTS IN NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA

 

 

Benjamin Osayawe Ehigie, Ph.D,

Department of Psychology

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

 

Ideozu Christian Ideozu, Mr.,

Department of Psychology

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

 

Rebecca Ibhaguelo Ehigie

Department of Chemistry

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

The study deals with the psychological well-being of residents around oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. Aggression, anxiety, and depression were considered as measures of psychological well-being. 300 respondents, drawn from three communities that were in degraded, relocated, and non-degraded environment respectively, were selected for the study, with 100 respondents from each community. A standardized Environmental Adjustment Questionnaire that had scales on environmental attitude, environmental perception, aggression, anxiety, and depression were administered on the respondents. Results of one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and least significant difference multiple comparison test showed that residents of degraded environment were significantly more aggressive, anxious, and depressed than their cohort groups and were thus poorer on psychological well-being. They also perceived their environment as significantly more degraded than their counterparts in the other environments, and thus showed more unfavorable attitude to their environment. Implications of the findings were discussed in terms of engaging psychologists in the exploration team of the oil companies in Nigeria, who would interact with the inhabitants for better psychological well-being.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Man’s capacity to pollute and destroy the environment is fast increasing. The influence of environment on human behavior is essential as mankind is in the danger of loosing his or her environment and self too.  Ehigie & Ideozu, (2000) see environmental degradation as a problem affecting both rich and poor nations, developed and developing worlds alike. Environmental degradation is defined as the direct or indirect destruction of the physical, biological, thermal or radioactive properties of any part of the environment in such a way as to create hazard or threat to a potential health safety or welfare of any hiring species ((Ferrari, 1995). Thus, the human problems caused by environmental stress through degradation need not to be under-emphasized.

 

In Nigeria, oil and gas are of great importance to the nation, since it is the main stay of the nation’s economy. Oil and gas are present in the Niger Delta in large quantity, and has led to the rape of the Niger Delta by multinational oil companies, in collaboration with the government of Nigeria (Ideozu, 1999). According to Linddal (1995), Niger Delta is blessed with abundant physical and human resources, including majority of Nigeria’s oil and gas deposits, good agricultural land, extensive forest, excellent fisheries as well as a well-developed industrial base. However, it is impossible to quantify, in monetary terms, the losses suffered in form of biodiversity degradation, environmental pollution and incurable ailments that result from oil and gas activities in this area.

 

Some Niger Delta communities of Nigeria have had a share of environmental degradation problems due to the presence of majority of Nigeria’s crude oil and natural gas deposits around them. Others who originally were so located have been relocated to areas that do not have these projects. A third group are communities that, from onset, reside in non-oil and gas project areas. The Niger Delta environment is known to be one of the most bounteous regions on the earth. But it is also regarded as very fragile, in fact, more fragile than any other forest zone imagined. Oil and gas pollutions are just two of the many substances that pollute and degrade the Niger Delta environment, in terms of land and water, and these two pollutants appear to be more complicated in their pollution than most other pollutants.

 

The activities of oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta compete with man in environmental degradation (Ashton-Jones, 1998). Ehigie and Ideozu (1999) reports that some inhabitants of Niger Delta area in Nigeria suddenly find huge trucks and flat beds, giant cranes and rigs, or even controlled seismic explosives that are used for oil explorations in their neighborhood. Due to the gradual destruction of the tropical rainforest, the zone can no longer support agriculture and the thriving population. Fishing and farming, the main occupation of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta communities are now very tedious and yields do not justify the efforts that are being put in. This is as a result of the effects of oil pollutions and gas flaring experienced on the vicinity of habitation. In some instances there are oil spillages which leading to burning of farms, lives, and property. Ideozu (1999) comments that the exploration of oil and gas has pauperized and impoverished the inhabitants instead of improving the lot of their lives. With their source of livelihood gradually destroyed, they are left in helpless and hopeless situations.

 

The problems identified with the Niger Delta is that the citing of oil and gas projects have left the host communities in a more worse position of poverty, hunger, peasantry, lack of basic infrastructure, high unemployment, high illiteracy rate, lack of stakeholdership, lack of trust, apparent ineffective and insufficient government interest in the plight of the people, alienation and marginalization. The people are relegated to primitive homes of mosquitoes infested swamps where frequent oil spills and blowouts choke aquatic life and devastate the mangrove forest. Worst of all is the fact that projects are cited in close proximity to human habitation and through road building, cite preparation and laying of pipes, exploration has caused extensive deforestation, wildlife extinction, fisheries depletion, biodiversity loss, land subsidence, environmental shrinkage, etc. These problems have led to low yield in agricultural products and gradual destruction of their main source of livelihood. They are thus manifested as loss of existence values in terms of loss of cultural, traditional and spiritual values, distortion in life style, loss of identity, alienation and bleak future, aside from the socio-economic sustainability. With their main source of livelihood under threat of complete destruction, family sustainability becomes difficult, thus the people become maladjusted to the new way of life, which is alien to them. Threatened with these stressful situations, survival becomes paramount in their lives and the exhibition of deviant socio-path and sometimes, psychopathic behavior are explained in terms of violence, aggression, anxiety, frustration, depression, diminished status, etc. But of importance in the present study are aggression, depression, and anxiety, which Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, Bem, and Nolen-Hoeksema (2000) considered as psychological reactions to stress, as distinct from physiological reactions.

 

Aggression is not only a source of scientific disagreement but a political controversy as well (Johnson, 1993; Toufexis, 1993).  Aggression is defined as any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone (Myers, 1999). Myers differentiated between hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. Hostile aggression springs from anger, its goal is to injure. Instrumental aggression aims to hurt only as a means to some other end. Social movements and civic groups in the Niger Delta, like MOSOP (Movement for the survival of Ogoni people) and the Kaiama Declaration of the Ijaw group in Ogoni land have, time without number, been engaged in series of hostile and instrumental aggressive actions in trying to bring home their struggle for resource control in the Niger Delta. These youths have engaged in the kidnapping of expatriates of oil companies in their region and destruction of cars, structures, and properties of these oil firms.

 

Naanen (2000) reports that the current youth military in the Niger Delta is an expression of the frustration engendered by the slowness of change in the region regarding state policy and actions, and the role of oil companies. He described the actions of the youth as freelance terrorism, banditry and plain criminality. The actions of these youths can be explained from value readjustment theory presented by Ugwuegbu (1995) that the dominant values of the society are brought under severe pressure for change. The social movement which organizes the activities of an aggrieved section of the population, having given up hope for benefiting from the going value system, sets up a new configuration of values (Ugwuegbu, 1995), like the idea of resource control being agitated by the Niger Delta people. Like individuals, different ethnic groups within a nation have identity and need for autonomy.

 

 Freud’s (1964) psychoanalytic theory of aggression speculated that human aggression springs from our redirecting toward others the energy of a primitive death urge. Kagan and Snidman (1991) presented that our temperament is partly something we bring with us into the world. Myers (1999) added that although the human propensity to aggress may not qualify as instinctive behavior, aggression is biologically influenced. If all these assertions are true, then it will be expected that aggression levels would not be significantly different between residents around oil and gas projects and those who have been relocated from such locations, or those that do not reside close to such region in the same Niger Delta area. Presenting a slightly different view, Lorenz (1976) holds that aggressive energy is instinctual, if not discharged it builds up until it explodes or until an appropriate stimulus releases it. Appropriate stimuli in this instance could be the presence of oil and gas projects and the denial of the residents of perceived benefits from such projects.

 

Buss and Shackelford (1997) reported that aggressive behavior was a strategy for gaining resources, defending against attack, intimidating or eliminating rivals. Residents around oil and gas projects see themselves as being denied and deprived of the natural resources they are naturally endowed with. Consequently, it is expected that they would be more aggressive than their counterparts who have been relocated or are not originally located in such area, as attempts at profiting from the oil wealth. It is proposed that they would embark aggressive behavior as a strategy for elimination or intimidating their rivals, who are the operators of the oil companies, and then gaining their resources.

 

Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, and Sears (1939) presented the first psychological theories of aggression; frustration-aggression hypothesis. The theory hypothesizes that frustration always leads to some form of aggression and all aggression is caused by frustration. Frustration is anything that blocks our attaining a goal. Dollard et al claimed that the motive to aggress is a psychological drive that resembles physiological drives like hunger. The classic frustration-aggression theory argues that frustration creates a motive to aggress. It is predicted therefore that residents around oil and gas projects would feel more frustrated as a result of the denial they experience, in not benefiting directly from the proceeds of the oil and gas projects in their abode. Such frustrations could make them more aggressive than their counterparts in the Niger Delta areas not faced with such denials, as a result of no oil and gas projects in their abode. Thus, the seemingly aggression exhibited by youths in such degraded environment can be attributed to the frustrations they face with oil and gas projects.

 

Fear of punishment or disapproval for aggressing against the source of frustration may cause the aggressive drive to be displaced against some other target or even redirected against oneself (Brehm & Kassin, (1996). This suggests why some Ogoni youths engaged in the killings of some of their traditional rulers, whom they believed were profiting directly from the oil companies at their own expense. This subsequently led to the execution of the renowned playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis by the then military government of Nigeria, because they were believed to have masterminded the killings of the rulers. All these are displays of displaced aggression, according to this theory.

 

Berkowitz (1995) realized that the original theory overstated the frustration-aggression connection, so he revised it by theorizing that frustration produces anger, an emotional readiness to aggress. Anger consists of strong feelings of displeasure in response to a perceived injury (Russell & Fehr, 1994). Anger arises when someone who frustrates us could have chosen to act otherwise (Averill, 1983). However, Dill and Anderson (1995) presented a revised frustration-aggression theory that a justifiable frustration is still frustrating, but it triggers less aggression than a frustration we perceive as unjustified.

Gibbons (1993) opine that human warfare originated in attempts to obtain valuable resources. Lore and Schultz (1993) identifies social factors as the primary determinants of aggression. When people are provoked by attack or insult, they often retaliate (Dengerink, Schnedler, & Covey, 1978). Retaliation is prevalent in cultures that place a high premium on protecting one’s honor by responding aggressively to insults (Nisbett, 1993).

 

The adjustment problems faced by the Niger Delta people around oil and gas projects do not end with aggression, but feelings of depression and anxiety are likely to accompany their psychological being. Wickens and Meyer (1955) posit that a sequence of adjustment begins when a need is felt and ends when it is satisfied. The need felt by inhabitants around oil and gas projects center around resource control, hence Saro-Wiwa’s presentation in his “Genocide in Nigeria” is that the oil that became a source of fantastic wealth for a generation of power controlling elite and their clients from other parts of the country became a major source of misery in the Niger Delta (Ideozu, 1999). According to Wickens and Meyer (1955), when a need is felt, anxiety sets in which is an anticipation on the part of the individual of a potentially threatening situation. Anxiety is thus, unpleasant emotion characterized by such terms as worry, apprehension, tension, and fear which people who live through normal range of human suffering experience (Atkinson, et. al 2000).

 

When needs or motives are thwarted or prevented from being satisfied, due to conflict among environmental factors that block motive fulfillment or personal inadequacy, emotional feelings and behavior often result in anxiety, fear, depression, anger or guilt (Morgan, King, Weisz & Schopler, 1986). Decades of reckless oil exploration in the Niger Delta region produced environmental devastation that either precipitated or aggravated economic and social decline in the area (Ehigie & Ideozu, 2000).  Pyszczynski, Hamilton, Greenberg, and Becker (1991) found that many people feel depressed when experiencing severe stress, which comes from anything that disrupts their sense of who they are and why they are a worthy human being.

 

According to Brehm and Kassin (1996), depression is a psychological disorder characterized by negative moods such as feelings of sadness or apathy, low self-esteem, pessimism, lack of initiative, and slowed thought processes. The original learned helplessness model of depression by Seligman (1975) posits that experience with an uncontrollable event creates passive behavior toward a subsequent threat to well-being. The activities of the oil firms around oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta, supported by the Federal Government of Nigeria could be interpreted as uncontrollable events for the inhabitants, making them hopeless and helpless in the pursuit of their goals. This could make the inhabitants depressed and anxious. Seligman argued that depression could be considered a form of learned helplessness.

 

However, being dissatisfied with Seligman’s presentation Abramson, Seligman, and Teasdale (1978) developed the reformulated model of learned helplessness. This model holds that perceiving a lack of control in one situation is not sufficient to produce helpless feelings and behaviors in a different situation. Instead, the person’s attributions about what caused the initial lack of control must be considered. According to them, those who make stable and global attributions for an uncontrollable event are more likely to expect future events to be uncontrollable and this produces passive and helpless behavior in new situations. Those who make internal attributions develop low self-esteem. In over 100 studies involving 15, 000 subjects Sweeney, Anderson, and Bailey (1986) found that depressed people are more likely than nondepressed people to exhibit a negative explanatory style. They are more likely to attribute failure and setbacks to causes that are stable, global, and internal. However, considering the consistent agitations of the inhabitants around oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria, it might be difficult to see them as more depressed than their counterparts in controlled environment, although they might be more anxious.

 

Myers (1999) reported that depressed moods cause negative thinking. According to him, “when we feel happy, we think happy” (P. 571). He also argued that negative thinking causes depressed moods. Thus, depression is both a cause and a consequence of negative cognitions. Carver, Kus, and Scheier (1994) argued that a depressed mood affects behavior and depressed behavior can also trigger reciprocal depression in others.

Researchers have speculated that a relation may exist between anxiety and depression and hypothesized that anxiety precedes depression (del Barrio, Moreno & Lopez, 1997). Anxiety is believed to be between aggression and depression and depression is said to be aggression turned inward (Kashani, Vaidya, Saltys, Dandoy, Katz, & Reid, 1990). Lesse (1974) described anxiety as masked depression that is characterized by antisocial, aggressive and destructive behavior.

 

Holmes and Rahe (1967) proposed that all change is stressful because it forces people to adapt to new, unfamiliar circumstances. This suggests that residents in Niger Delta area that were relocated from degraded environment to non-degraded improved environment could also experience some stressful states. But it is not certain whether this stressful state would have as much negative impact as that experienced by those in degraded environment. Brehm and Kassin (1996) posit that positive and negative life events have different implications for stress and coping. Sarason and Sarason (1984) opine that negative life events are often associated with physical illness and psychological distress. Nolen-Hoeksema, Seligman, and Girgus (1992) showed that attribution style appears only in people who have experienced negative life events and it precedes poor psychological well-being. Lewinsohm Steimmetz, Larson and Franklin, (1981) presented the “scar hypothesis” which explains that sometimes people maintain a negative attribution style when psychological well-being has been improved. They suggest that people who developed a pessimistic attribution style and maintain it once they have overcome depression are prone to new depression.

 

Ormel and Wohlfarth (1991) concur that stressful life events are associated with increased psychological distress. Just as the inhabitants around oil and gas projects could be classified as experiencing negative life events, those who have been relocated could be classified as experiencing positive life events. Thus, inhabitants around these respective areas would be expected to experience stress differently and therefore be different in coping; all these have implications for their psychological well-being. Kohn, Lafreniere, and Gurevich (1991) observed that struggling to make ends meet can contribute to distress and illness. Bolger, DeLongis, Kessler, and Schilling (1989) rated interpersonal conflicts as the most upsetting of daily stressors, having a more longer-lasting impact than most others. It is invariably inferred that the inhabitants around oil and gas projects would experience poor psychological well-being than those in controlled environment. However, the extent to which this might be correct would be a function of their perception of their environment as degraded and their attitude towards degradation.

Viljeon (1981) posits that man’s perception of his environment forms his cognition of that environment, and is a determining factor in his or her attitude and behavior in that physical environment. Ittleson, Proshanky, Rivlin and Winkel (1974) added that man perceives his environment as discrete and the total constellation of these stimuli will determine his reaction and behavior. The objective environment, according to Ittleson et al , must be distinguished from the perceived psychological environment as experienced by the individual. It is this perceived environment, which eventually determines the person’s behavioral response.

 

Ugwuegbu (1999) recognizes that the basis of conflict in any society lies in perceived and actual relative inequity. Ittleson et. al. (1974) argued that values attached to the environment could be perceived as threatened since the inhabitants depend totally on their environment for survival. Tensions are increased, hopes and aspirations are perceived as getting dim with massive degradation and depletion of resources of the natural environment as their continued survival and future is threatened.

The sequential theory of environmental behavior relationships explains that man’s perceptual reaction towards objective environmental conditions such as pollution, over activity in an environment, or environmental degradation could lead to psychological states like arousal, stress, information overload or reactance (Bell, Fisher, & Looms, 1978). From studies on perception, Erickson (1951) found that perception and anxiety are interrelated in that perception of a situation as threatening increases anxiety level towards that situation. Adler (1930) sees anxiety as a cue to retreat to previous states of security and thus serves as a weapon of aggression, a means for dominating others. Thus, anxiety may arise from the thwarting or threatening of the fulfillment of a felt need.

 

Based on the foregoing, it is hypothesized that:

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly experience poorer psychological well-being than those in relocated or non-degraded environment.

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly be more aggressive than those in relocated or non-degraded environment.

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly be more anxious than those in relocated or non-degraded environment.

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly be more depressed than those in relocated or non-degraded environment.

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly perceive their environment as more degraded than those in relocated or non-degraded

            environment.

 

            Residents in degraded environment would significantly have more unfavorable attitude to their environment than those in relocated or non-degraded          

            environment.

 

RESEARCH METHOD

 

Design

 

The research design for the study is ex-post facto experimental design. It is ex-post facto because the consequences of degradation had already occurred and was not deliberately manipulated for the purpose of the research. The independent variable is type of environment, which is considered as degraded, relocated and non-degraded. Because of the type of variations in the independent variables, and consequence likely effects, experimental design was also built in the study. The dependent variable is aggression, depression, and anxiety which make-up psychological well-being. Others are perception of environmental degradation and attitude to degradation.

 

Participants

 

A total of 300 subjects, comprising of 210 males and 90 females, drawn from three different communities in Rivers State participated in the study. The subjects were categorized into three different study groups of 100 subjects per study group, and each study group represented a community from a particular environment. There was a community in a degraded environment and not relocation, another was in a degraded environment but now relocated, and a third group had not been in a degraded environment nor was relocation. Thus, the Ogoni, New Finima, and Opobo communities were respectively selected, randomly, to represent these variations in the independent variable. The Ogoni community was selected as the experimental group while New Finima and Opobo were the cohort groups.

 

From each community, 70 males and 30 females were selected. The participants were of ages between 15 and 60 years, with a mean age of 35 and standard deviation of 8.15. A total of 133 were singles, 130 were married and 37 were divorced. On educational qualification, 83 had elementary education, 141 had secondary education, and 76 had post secondary education. 61 of the participants were unemployed, 87 were self-employed, 78 were government employees, and 74 were in private employment.

 

Instrument

 

A questionnaire, labeled as Environmental Adjustment Questionnaire was used in data collection. The questionnaire had six sections, with section one designed to collect information on demographic information. The other sections had scales on environmental attitude, environmental perception, aggression, anxiety, and Beck’s depression inventory. All the scales were structured in the 5-point Likert format ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

         

The environmental attitude scale is made up of 9 items that describe people’s attitude towards the issue of environmental degradation. Items on this scale ask the people questions about their attitude towards environmental degradation and pollution. The items were subjected to face and content validity and the criterion for selection of items was an average of 80% acceptability for each item. The corrected item-total correlations of the items range between 0.40 and 0.86. The scale has a coefficient alpha of r = 0.83; df = 67; p < .01, and a Spearman Brown coefficient for the entire scale as 0.92. High scores on this scale show unfavorable attitude while low scores indicate favorable attitude.

         

The environmental perception scale is made up of 11 items that actually seek to find out the extent to which people residing in a particular environment perceive it as being degraded. Items were also subjected to face and content validity and the criterion for item selection was based on 80% acceptability for each item. The items had item-total correlation ranging between 0.42 and 0.88. The alpha coefficient was 0.95, with Spearman Brown coefficient as 0.98. High score indicate high perception of degradation as a result of the citing of oil and gas projects in the environment, while low score show low perception of degradation in the environment.

         

The Zaks and Walter (1959) aggression scale was adapted to measure aggression. It is a 12-item forced choice scale with response categories of zero (disagree) and one (agree). It was however converted to a 5-point Likert scoring format for the purpose of the present study, with response choice ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. A convergent validity of 0.92 was obtained when the new version of the scale was correlated with the original scale. The scale was revalidated by Efoghe (1990), with a split half reliability of r = 0.80; p < .01; n = 62 and a concurrent validity of r = 0.64; p < .01; n = 50 with Edward’s (1953) aggression scale. For the purpose of the present study, 11 items were retained out of the original 12 items. The selected items has item-total correlation ranging between 0.40 and 0.90, with alpha coefficient as r = 0.81 and Spearman Brown coefficient as 0.89. High scores depicted high level of aggression in this scale while low score depicted low aggressiveness.

          

Speilberger’s (1972) state anxiety scale was used to measure anxiety levels of the participants, with 23 original items. These items were subjected to item-total correlation in a pilot study which led to the acceptance of only 11 items with item-total correlation ranging between 0.62 and 0.90. This new version had a coefficient of 0.63 with the original scales. The items had alpha coefficient of r = 0.89; p < .01; n = 69, and Spearman Brown coefficient of 0.94 for the entire scale. The items were reduced to such a manageable size on order to avoid boredom to respondents. High scorers show high level of anxiety while low scorers show low anxiety.

         

The Beck’s depression inventory designed by Beck, Ward, Mendelson, Mock and Erbaugh (1961) was employed to measure depression. Although the scale was originally designed for clinical depressed patients, but Oliver, Croghan and Kartz (1976) used it among freshmen and sophomore at four universities to determine the prevalence of depression. They reported an inter-rater reliability of r = 0.62; p < .01; n = 56 and the correlation with psychiatric rating was r = 0.77. For the present study, the original 20 items was revalidated leading to the acceptance of 10 items with corrected item-total correlation of between 0.51 and 0.84. The alpha coefficient for the selected items was r = 0.82; p < .01; n = 69, and Spearman Brown coefficient of 0.94.  High score indicate subjects with high level of depression while low score show low level of depression.

 

Psychological well-being was taken as total score on the aggression, anxiety, and depression scales. Thus, the higher the total score the poorer is the psychological well-being of a respondent. A preliminary analysis of the three scales in the pilot study, showed that they were significantly inter-correlated and the total on each scale correlated significantly with the grand total on the three scales. Thus, the three measures were accepted as measuring a common construct; psychological well-being.

 

Procedure

 

The study was conducted in two phases; one was the pilot phase and the other the main study. For the pilot study, 10 community leaders and activists were contacted through the community head of Ogoni land (the degraded environment). They were requested to write a one-page description of their environment, in terms of environmental degradation and pollution. Five environmental experts from the State Office of FEPA (Federal Environmental Pollution Agency) in Rivers State were also requested to make a one-page write-up of a degraded environment. These were critically examined and relevant concepts were extracted to construct the environmental perception scale and the attitude to environment scale. Initially, 20 items were generated for each of these scales.

 

The emergent scales were administered on three analytical chemists in the Department of Chemistry, University of Ibadan, who were expected to indicate if each item actually measured issues related to environmental pollution; they indicate Yes or No.  The exercise led to the rejection of some items that had less than 80% acceptance of the expert’s ratings. This led to the acceptance of 13 and 15 items for the attitude and perception scale respectively. The items on the two scales were finally given to two psychologists at the University of Ibadan, for adequacy scrutiny in the structuring of the items. These two scales and the other scales for the study were administered on 69 respondents selected from another degraded community not selected for the main study, for validity and reliability estimation. Their responses were used to analyze the item-total and reliability coefficients.

 

For the main study, the FEPA office in the State was visited to obtain the groupings of communities in terms of degradation, relocation, and non-degradation. Through balloting, the three communities used for the study were selected. The Heads of the respective communities were approached, who assisted in the distribution of the questionnaires to the respondents through the leaders of various associations in the community. One hundred and ten questionnaires were distributed in each community and four associations were randomly selected for the exercise. These associations covered male and female youth associations, and male and female adult associations. Those who were administered the questionnaires were purposively selected, as those who could read and write and active members of the association; the leader of each association determined this. The questionnaires were finally pruned down to 100 for each community, for statistical analysis, as some were either not returned or were not well filled.

 

RESULTS

 

The hypothesis which stated that individuals residing in degraded environment would experience significant poorer psychological well-being than those residing in relocated or non-degraded environment was tested with a one way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results are presented in Table 1.

 

Table 1: One Way ANOVA Showing The Effect Of Type Of Environment On

Dependent

Variable

 

 

Source

Sum of Squares

  

  Df

Mean

Square

 

 

 F

    

  P

 

Well-being

Between

 

Within

 

Total

21216.17

36318.75

57534.92

         2

     297

     299

10608.08

    122.29

 

 

 86.75

 

 

< .001

 

Aggression

Between

 

Within

 

Total

3041.78

8110.55

11152.33

           2

       297

       299

1520.89

    27.31

 

  55.69

 

< .001

 

Anxiety

Between

 

Within

 

Total

1797.09

12889.26

14686.35

           2

       297

       299

  898.54

     43.40

 

  20.71

 

< .001

 

Depression

Between

 

Within

 

Total

2336.66

5209.34

7546.00

            2

         297

        299

  1168.33

      17.54

 

  66.61

 

<. 001

 

Environmental

Perception

Between

 

Within

 

Total

432.89

2408.95

2832.84

            2

        297

        299

3390.26

26.51

 

127.89

 

<. 001

 

Attitude to Environment

Between

 

Within

 

Total

6780.51

7874.68

14655.19

           2

       297

       299

211.94

     8.11

 

26.13

 

 

<. 001

 

 

Table 1 shows that type of environment significantly affected the general psychological well-being of residents in the Niger Delta [F (2,297) = 86.75; p < .001]. More specifically, the results of the Least Significant Difference (LSD) multiple comparison tests in Table 2 show that residents in degraded environment significantly had poorer psychological well-being (X = 87.20) than those in relocated environment (X = 67.75) and non-degraded environment (X = 71.60) at p < .001 respectively. Those in relocated environment significantly enjoyed better psychological well-being than those in non-degraded environment (p < .05).

 

Table 2: LSD Multiple Comparison Showing Mean Difference Of Type Of Environment On Psychological Well-Being

Dependent

Variable

Type of Environment

  Mean

  2

    3

 

Well-being

Degraded

Relocated

Non-degraded

87.20

67.75

71.60

19.45***

15.60***

3.85*

 

Aggression

Degraded

Relocated

 3. Non-degraded

36.57

29.14

30.80

7.43***

5.77***

1.66*

 

 

Anxiety

    1. Degraded

        2. Relocated

3. Non-degraded

25.99

20.52

21.13

5.47***

4.86***

0.61

 

Depression

        1. Degraded

2. Relocated

3. Non-degraded

24.64

18.09

19.67

6.55***

4.97***

1.58**

Environmental                 

Perception          

        1. Degraded

2. Relocated

3. Non-degraded

47.66

18.20

18.76

29.46***

28.90***

0.56

 

Attitude to                        Environment

        1. Degraded

2. Relocated

3. Non-degraded

26.93

29.84

28.30

2.91***

1.37***

1.54***

* p <.05              ** p < .01                *** p < .001

 

 

Table 1 further shows that type of environment significantly affected the level of aggression of residents in the Niger Delta [F (2,297) = 55.69; p < .001]. Table 2 shows, as hypothesized, that residents in degraded environment significantly showed higher level of aggression (X = 36.57) than those in relocated (X = 29.14) and non-degraded environment (X = 30.80). Those in non-degraded environment were also significantly higher in aggression level than those in relocated environment (p < .05).

 

There was significant effect of type of environment on anxiety [F (2,297) = 20.71; p < .001], with those in degraded environment being more anxious (X = 25.99) than those in relocated (X = 20.52) and non-degraded environment (X = 21.13); thus, the third hypothesis is confirmed. But there was no significant difference between residents in relocated environment and those in non-degraded environment on anxiety levels.

 The depression levels of the residents in Niger Delta region was also significantly affected by the type of environment they resided [F (2,297) = 66.61; p <. 001]. Residents in degraded environment were significantly more depressed (X = 24.64) than those in relocated (X = 18.09) and non-degraded environment (X = 19.67), as hypothesized. The residents in relocated environment were also significantly more depressed than those in non-degraded environment (p < .01).

 

Table 1 further shows that the residents in the Niger Delta region perceived their environment differently on degradation [F (2, 297) = 127.89; p < .001]. Table 2 shows that perception of degraded environment was significantly higher among residents in degraded environment (X =47.66) than those in relocated (X = 18.20) and non-degraded environment (X = 18.76). But there was no significant difference in perception of environmental degradation between residents in relocated and those in non-degraded environment. Type of environment significantly affected attitude to environmental degradation [F (2.297) = 26.13; p < .001], with residents in degraded environment having poorer attitude towards their environment (X = 26.93) than those in relocated (X = 29.84) and those in non-degraded environment (X = 28.30). Those in relocated environment were, however, better disposed to their environment than those in non-degraded environment.

 

However, to determine the inter-relationships among the dependent variables of the study, a zero-order correlation analysis was made using the Pearson product correlation; the results are presented in Table 3.

 

Table 3: Zero-Order Correlation Showing Relationships Among Aggression, Anxiety, Depression, Environmental Perception, And Attitude To Environment

Variables

         N

Mean

2

3

4

5

6

Well-being

Aggression

Anxiety

Depression

Environmental perception

 

Attitude to Environment

 

 

     300

75.52

32.17

22.55

20.80

28.21

 

28.36

0.52***

0.57***

0.33***

0.47***

0.40***

0.40***

0.44***

0.59***

0.44***

0.41***

 

-.42***

-.32***

-.30***

-.44***

-.52***

 

The results show that each of the facets of psychological well-being: aggression (r = 0.52; p < .001), anxiety (r = 0.57; p < .001), and depression (r = 0.47; p < .001) significantly correlated with well-being positively. The variables also positively correlated significantly among themselves. Thus, aggression correlated significantly with anxiety (r = 0.33; p < .001) and depression (r = 0.40; p < .001, while anxiety also correlated significantly with depression (r = 0.40; p < .001). These results show that the three variables; aggression, anxiety, and depression combine significantly to measure a common factor variable (psychological well-being).

 

Furthermore, Table 3 shows that perception of environment as degraded were positively and significantly correlated with aggression (r = 0.59), anxiety (r = 0.44), depression (r = 0.41), and general psychological well-being (r = 0.44). This shows that the more degraded a person perceives the environment the more aggression, anxiety, depression, and poorer well-being is experienced. Attitude to environmental degradation was, however, negatively correlated with each of the other variables; aggression (r = -.32), anxiety (r = -.30), depression (r = -.44), well-being (r = -.42) and perception of environmental degradation (r = -.52). This suggests that the more favorable an individual’s attitude is to the environment the less aggression, anxiety, depression, and better psychological well-being is experienced. Also, the more degraded a person perceives his or her environment the less favorable attitude is shown to the environment.

 

 

DISCUSSION

 

The results from the present study show that differences exist among residents of the Niger Delta on psychological well-being. It was found that residents around oil and gas explorations have poorer well-being than those relocated or those in non-degraded environment. This supports Ashton-Jones (1998) assertion that activities of oil and gas in the Niger Delta compete with man in environmental degradation. The poor psychological well-being experienced by the residents in degraded environment might not be unconnected with the health and welfare hazard they are exposed to due to the direct or indirect destruction of their environment (Ferrari, 1995).

 

The importance of good environment in psychological well-being was demonstrated by the better state of well-being experienced by residents of the same Niger Delta, but residing in an improved relocated environment, as opposed to those in degraded or non-degraded environment. This is because the relocated environment has been deliberately structured to enhance human living, as the residents were removed from a degraded location, unlike the non-degraded environment that looks more natural in terms of fewer amenities, except for the absence of oil and gas projects.

 

The residents around oil and gas projects must have been raped of their farmlands, forests, fisheries, and other industrial products (Linddal, 1995), due to the activities of the multinational oil companies in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria (Ideozu, 1999). These must have terribly affected their psychological well-being. Apart from their normal pattern of living being badly affected, their sources of revenue must have also been negatively affected. Kohn et. al (1991) observed that struggling to make ends meet can lead to distress and illness, of which psychological well-being could be inclusive. This is unlike the case with the residents in non-degraded environment, which though the environment might not be as psychologically attractive as the relocated environment but they are still firmly in touch with their natural environment and vocation. Brehm and Kassin (1996) posit that positive and negative life events have different implications for stress and coping. But Sarason and Sarason (1984) asserted that negative life events are often associated with physical illness and psychological distress. Also, Ormel and Wohlfarth (1991) are of the opinion that stressful life events are associated with increased psychological distress. All these go to explain why residents in degraded environment suffered psychological well-being than others in relocated or non-degraded environment.

 

The feeling that the oil which became a source of fantastic wealth for a generation of power controlling elite and their clients from other parts of the country became a major source of misery to them  (Ehigie & Ideozu, 1999), might have become a source of stress to them in the oil and gas project zone. According to Atkinson et. al. (2000), exposure to stress can lead to aggression, anxiety, and depression. Pyszczynski et. al. (1999) have argued that people feel depressed when they experience stress. Bolger et. al. (1989) see inter-personal conflict as a major cause of stress, and the residents of degraded environment are known for their constant conflict with staffers, especially expatriates, of the multinational oil companies in Nigeria. This has been enhanced with the formation of military youths in the area.

 

The feeling by the inhabitants around oil and gas projects that these natural resources that bring much revenue to Nigeria is within their abode, is sufficient to create some needs to profit from these resources. Such need, according to Wickens and Meyer (1955), is sufficient to create anxiety among the dwellers; hence they were significantly higher in anxiety level than those in relocated and non-degraded environment, whereas there was no significant difference in anxiety levels between residents in relocated and non-degraded environment. Moreover, the Federal Government whose law forbids the residents from directly exploring the oil or profiting directly from the proceeds of the oil explorations blocks these needs. Thus, inequity is perceived by them (Ugwuegbu, 1999). This, according to Morgan et. al. (1986) predisposes the residents around oil and gas projects to experiencing higher levels of aggression, anxiety, and depression than their counterparts in relocated or non-degraded environment who do not experience such need deprivation state.

 

The poor state of psychological well-being experienced by the residents around oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta is not unconnected with the fact that they actually perceived their environment as more degraded than their counterparts in relocated or non-degraded environments, and this further negatively affected their attitude towards their environment. This is in conformity with Viljeon’s (1981) view that a person’s perception of his or her environment determines attitude and behavior in that environment In essence, they showed more negative attitude towards environmental degradation than those in relocated or non-degraded environment. This shows that they attach much importance to their environment, and the value they attached to their environment had been threatened by the degradation (Ittleson et. al , 1974), leading to poor psychological well-being. It further confirms Bell et. al.’s (1978) sequential environmental theory that man’s perception of his or her environmental state could lead to psychological reactions like aggression, anxiety, and depression. Erickson’s (1951) prediction that perception and anxiety are related was confirmed in the present study, as there was significant positive correlation between environmental perception and anxiety. The assertion by Ittleson et. al (1974) that perception of environmental stimuli can affect human behavior was also supported by the present finding.

 

The significant inter-correlations among aggression, anxiety and depression supports Lesse’s (1974) view that anxiety is masked depression, characterized by aggression. It also supports Kashani et. al.’s (1990) opinion that depression is aggression turned inward, and anxiety is between aggression and depression. All these suggests that the three variables actually measure a common psychological construct which was labeled as psychological well-being in the present study. Atkinson, et. al. (2000) also see the three variables as components of stress outcome.

 

Depressed states can cause negative thinking (Myers, 1999). This perhaps explains the reason for the frequent fighting in the Niger Delta, especially where there are oil and gas projects. Their depressed states also likely make them to give negative explanations and interpretations (Sweeney et. al., 1986) to several government policies on the Niger Delta.

From the findings in the present study, the residents around oil and gas projects in the Niger Delta of Nigeria pose serious threat to their psychological health and to the society, especially in the aspects of violent clashes, vandalizing and destruction of viable projects and installations. If these are not checkmated quickly they will result in worse situations for themselves and the society in general. Program on poverty alleviation, environmentally based sustainable development, adequate compensations, greater employment opportunities, and provisions of durable social infrastructures are recommended.  Also, grass root enlightenment campaigns as well as the development of environmental communication strategies and stakeholdership would help to properly socialize them and make them have trust for the society.

 

To this end, psychologists should be included as field workers with the oil firms, attach to the host communities to constantly identify the psychological and social problems and needs of the inhabitants, since they are able to understand the human psyche, they will in no small measure help in proffering lasting solutions that will avoid situations causing jeopardy and impasse to the operations of oil and gas explorations, in addition to the rendering of psychotherapy to the inhabitants and the oil workers as the need would arise to minimized their feelings of aggression, anxiety, and depression.

 

 

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