The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) is a new threat to Nigeria. MEND use 4th generation warfare tactics to disrupt Nigerian oil supplies and government services. So far, they have reduced Nigeria’s oil revenues by over 25%.

The Niger River Delta is where Nigeria’s oil is. It is dominated by the Ijaw tribe.

Nigeria consists of over 250 different tribes with only a few dominating the rest. There are also sectarian divisions between Muslims of the North and Christians along the coast. The worst problem is corruption. Property is held informally, crime is widespread, and government officials steal everything.

Foreign oil companies operate in the Niger Delta but the Nigerian government takes the money. About 70% of the oil revenue is stolen or wasted in the blackhole of Nigerian corruption. The Ijaw tribesmen live in relative poverty and do not get their share of the revenue. The tribe revolts on occassion by disrupting oil shipments to increase their bargaining power in negotiations with the government.

In 2006, MEND forms and begins its insurgency.

Here’s CFR’s brief and MIPT’s brief on MEND.

MEND structure
MEND agents and officials hide their identities. The only known contact is their public relations frontman, Jomo Gbomo, who speaks with the press about the organization’s objectives and demands. The leadership is well educated and applies good ideas from other insurgencies.

MEND does not have a real political platform. They make vague demands for more oil revenue, less corruption, and the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the Delta. Their specific aims and long-term plans are unknown.

MEND is a decentralized confederacy consisting of MEND and its confederate allies, the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), the Coalition for Militant Action in the Niger Delta (COMA), and the Martyr’s Brigade. Some members switch between organizations and alternatively call themselves MEND or NDPVF.

They have sufficient financial resources to buy basic handheld weapons and some heavier weapons like shoulder fired SAMs and RPGs.

It contracts services. MEND leadership hires a criminal gang or a militant ally to attack an oil target. In this way, they coordinate This is more or less a mercenary structure.

There is task specialization. Some MEND groups engage in smuggling, some in kidnapping and ransoming, others in terror and insurgent attacks

It is very difficult to ‘attack’ MEND. It is really a confederacy of smaller groups directed by a hidden leadership. The Nigerians cannot find MEND’s center of gravity.

MEND Tactics

MEND’s primary target are foreign oil industries and the secondary target is the Nigerian government. Their tactics disrupt the oil industry.

They attack and destroy oil pipelines. They kidnap and ransom off foreign oil workers. They capture oil industry sites and loot the equipment to shut down production. They also steal oil and sell it on the black market.

MEND has an unknown relation with criminal elements. It creates a security vacuum that allows criminals to operate and attack many of the same oil targets. MEND may also hire and recruit from criminal gangs.

These attacks disrupted oil production in the Delta and reduced output by eight hundred thousand barrels per day, about 25% of total production. Oil is Nigeria’s primary source of revenue, so this is harming the entire state.

MEND lacks a coherent political motive, so their crime and smuggling activities are becoming more important. MEND groups are not longer temporarily disrupting oil production to negotiate with Nigeria. Instead it is permanently shutting down industries and stealing oil. Profit motivations may be driving individual MEND cells. They reduce the oil supply, which raises prices, then MEND sells its stolen oil.

The lack of coherent leadership limits the organization’s potential. Yes, it is harder to destroy, but MEND leaders cannot direct the confederation to specific political ends. Individual groups and organizations are more likely to break away from MEND out of self-interest. There are already disputes between MEND groups over smuggling and ransom revenue. MEND is taken the appearance of a criminal insurgency with a political bent.

No matter what, MEND raised gas prices in the United States.