|Dr. Priye S. Torulagha
|Saturday, December 20 ,
|The Niger Delta, Oil, and
Western Strategic Interests: The Need for an Understanding
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United
States and Britain, particularly, have been at the forefront of nation-states
vigorously campaigning for the institutionalization of democracy, freedom,
justice and human rights throughout the world.
President George Bush Jr.
and Prime Minister Tony Blair frequently mention democracy, freedom, justice,
and human rights in their speeches. For example, in a speech made by Mr. Blair
on September 28, 2003, to justify the action in Iraq, he said, "What we have
delivered in that country is freedom, and for all the difficulties, let's not
ignore that but actually be proud of what we have done." When President George
Bush Jr. visited London recently, he stated: "The United States and Great
Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple
pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom
brings. Together our nations are standing and sacrificing for this high goal in
a distant land at this very hour" (The Free Republic (2003, November
While the United Sates and Britain, and their Western allies: Italy,
Australia, Spain, Canada, Japan, etc. have shown much concern about the plight
of the Iraqis, they have tended to ignore the plight of the peoples of the Niger
Delta of Nigeria who have suffered greatly due to political deprivation,
economic exploitation, severe environmental degradation, and rampant human
rights abuses perpetrated by Nigeria's security forces and Western multinational
oil companies. The neglect or general lack of interest about events in the Niger
Delta by the West is of great concern.
Western political leaders rarely
say anything about the Niger Delta of Nigeria. One cannot recall with any
certainty an instance in which Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain or President
George Bush Jr. of the United States or President Jacques Chirac of France etc.
openly said anything of substance concerning the region. Likewise, Western
journalists, particularly from the broadcast media (CNN, Fox Network, ITV, CBC
etc), have paid only scant attention to the issues in the region. The only time
the Niger Delta seems to capture the attention of the Western media generally is
when Western oil workers are threatened or kidnapped by irate youths and when
interethnic fighting or fighting between ethnic fighters and Nigeria's security
forces threaten Western oil exploration in the region. Generally, such reports
are only reported in sound-bite fashion, lasting about one or two minutes.
Special Reports and News Features lasting for thirty or more minutes are rarely
done. Likewise, special interviews involving leaders of the region are rarely
conducted. It was really exciting to hear the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(CBC) through its International News, made a special presentation on the oil and
economic situation in Equatorial Guinea, lasting for about thirty minutes on
November 28 and 29, 2003.
Due to lack of serious attention being paid to
the Niger Delta, Western governments and citizens in the United States, Britain,
France, Italy, Canada, Australia, Norway, Belgium, Holland etc. are not
generally aware of the critical situation in the region, except political
activists working for non-governmental organizations. In addition, they seem not
to be aware of the fact that their interests are as much at stake in the region
as it might possibly be in the Middle East or Thailand or Venezuela or
elsewhere. Although of much similar oil interests, when Venezuela was embroiled
in a political turmoil, the crisis was reported all over the American, British,
Canadian etc. media. Yet, the Niger Delta does not seem to arouse the same
amount of interest. Why the blackout when the region contributes sizably to the
economies of many industrialized countries?
Five suppositions or
probable reasons could be advanced to explain why Western political leaders do
not seem to be willing to talk about the Niger Delta and why the Western
broadcast media seem to pay very little attention to the region. (1) Probably, they are not aware of the strategic
importance of the region to the economic stability of their countries. (2) May be they are being fed with false informationabout
what is actually happening in the region by their diplomats and intelligence
agents, (3) Perhaps, they are fully aware of the
situation but have decided that the people of the Niger Delta are politically
not worth the strategic investment since the financial benefits accruing from
oil exploration in the region far outweigh the need to change the dynamics.
(4) Perhaps, due to the fact that President Olusegun
Obasanjo, who is generally considered to be a friend of the West, is in power
and the Western leaders do not want to rock the boat by criticizing him
openly. (5) There is also the possibility that
Western oil companies operating in the Niger Delta are financially and
politically too powerful for the political leaders and citizens of Western
countries to do anything about the situation.
Regardless of the reasons
for inattention, however, recent diplomatic posturing, actions and inactions
taken by Western governments and multinational corporations doing business in
the region have aroused curiosity and sometimes anger among the indigenes of the
Niger Delta. For instance, the US announced and eventually supplied Nigeria with
naval ships in an effort to shore up security around oil facilities. In July,
2003, it was revealed by Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State of
Nigeria, during a forum on "Sea Piracy and Oil PipelineVandalization" that the
US has been putting pressure on the federal government of Nigeria to permit the
deployment of US Marines to secure American oil facilities and operations in the
Niger Delta (Vanguard, August 15, 2003). Nigerians, particularly from the
oil-producing region, were very apprehensive about US intentions. Some could not
understand why the US refused to send troops to Liberia when its presence was
needed in that country but seemed very interested in sending troops to the Niger
Delta. The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Navy, Dr.
Anthony Aziegbemi said that "it will be an insult on the Nigerian Navy for the
federal government to bring in American Marines to patrol the Niger Delta
coastal areas" (Aziken, August, 2003). The Nigerian Institute of Industry
Security (NIIS) protested the idea of the US stationing troops in the Niger
Delta by sending letters to President Olusegun Obasanjo and the leaders of the
House and Senate of the Nigerian House of Assembly. The NIIS stated, "insecurity
in the region has been advanced as the major motivating factor. It needs to be
mentioned here that the American government can not be responsible for the
day-to-day protection of oil installations in the Niger-Delta or elsewhere in
Nigeria."( Oghodaro, July 7, 2003).
The oil companies too have been
engaging in public relations campaign to inform the world about their commitment
to community development and the environment in the Niger Delta. For example,
Shell announced that it recorded a far fewer number of oil spillage in 2003 than
in previous years. This, according to the company, amounted to a 74% reduction
in the number of incidents and volume spilled compared to 2001. The report
further stated that "In 2002 spills as a result of equipment failure fell
drastically to 69 as against 87 in 2001 while corresponding volume reduced from
31,502 to 1,050 barrels"(AllAfrica.com, May 6, 2003). Then, like a thunder-bolt,
Chevron was awarded the US Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence
for helping to supposedly evacuate over 3000 people from troubled spots in the
Niger Delta during the Warri fighting (Ujah, October 21, 2003). In justifying
the award, the US Charge d'Affaires in Nigeria, Mr. Roger Meece stated that the
award was established to recognize "those exceptional US corporations abroad who
go beyond the standard business model and conduct their businesses through
exemplary practices in the spheres of employer-employee relations, safe and
healthy workplaces, environmental protection, community outreach, innovation and
transparency in business practices"(Ibid.).
Despite the award, the fact
remains that Chevron-Texaco, like the other major American, British, Dutch,
French, and Italian oil companies operating in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, have
never been good neighbors to the indigenes of the region since oil exploration
began in 1951. In many cases, they have actually helped to instigate interethnic
conflicts and worked with Nigeria's security forces to violently suppress
opposition to exploitative oil exploration in the region. Moreover, Chevron was
a major contributor to the Warri conflict by inciting and encouraging military
In any case, Western nations, particularly the United States,
Britain, France, Holland, and Italy which own major oil companies in Nigeria
need to pay attention to the political and economic situations in the region
because, whether they realize it or not, the Niger Delta is of strategic
importance to their economies.
The purpose of this article is five-fold. First, to
demonstrate that the Niger Delta is regarded by Nigeria and the oil companies as
a colony. Colonialism can be defined as the process of gaining control or
extending influence over another territory for economic advantage or reasons
(Abate, 1999;Amstutz, 1999). Second, to show through the actions of Nigeria, the
oil companies, and Western nations that Western principles of democracy,
freedom, justice, and human rights are flagrantly violated in the Niger Delta
since the oil companies prefer to do business in an environment characterized by
authoritarian and corrupt political leadership. Third, to demonstrate that the
Niger Delta is strategically significant to the political and economic
well-being of Nigeria, West Africa, the Western oil companies, and the
Western/Industrialized world. The stability of the Niger Delta is necessary to
stabilize oil supply as well as oil prices in the world. Fourth, based on the
three conditions above, to demonstrate that it is strategically and tactically
imperative for Western nations, particularly the United States and Britain, to
assist in changing the political and economic situations in the Niger Delta so
that mutually benefiting political and economic relationships can be established
across the board.
The following theoretical observations are made
(1) Due to the availability of oil and
gas and their importance to the economies of Nigeria, the oil companies, and
Western economies, the Niger Delta is treated as a colony. If oil and gas were
not available, no one would have cared about the Niger Delta. The colonizing
practices in the region follows a similar pattern in other mineral-producing
territories in the world, including Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome, Cabinda in
Angola, Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, Aceh Region in Indonesia, Ecuador,
Thailand, Myanma, theYine area in the Amazon etc.
2) In order to gain easy access to oil and gas, the
indigenes of the Niger Delta are intentionally suppressed, deprived, and
marginalized so as to reduce opposition to the exploitation of the petroleum
resources. Nigeria and the oil companies view the citizens of the region as an
unnecessary impediments and have conspired to suppress and exploit
(3) There is incongruity between the
frequently espoused Western values of democracy, freedom, justice, and human
rights and the economic practices of Western oil companies which tend to favor
the institutionalization of authoritarian, dictatorial, and corrupt regimes in
Nigeria and elsewhere.
(4) The exploitative
business practices of the multinational oil corporations will always engender
conflict, not only in the Niger Delta but throughout the regions in which oil
and other critical minerals are explored. A failure to reverse the exploitative
relationship could lead to perpetual conflict in the Niger Delta, thereby
threatening the oil market and polarizing the West African region.
(5) To reduce frustration, anger, anti-western feelings and
militant opposition, Western multinational corporations must change their
business practices because there is a connection between their business
practices and militant opposition.
For a comprehensive understanding of
the situation and the strategic importance of the Niger Delta, this article is
broken into two parts. Part One focuses on the events, issues, and experiences
that have taken place in the region due to oil exploration, in the past decades.
These events, issues, and experiences are depicted to demonstrate that the
region is treated as a colony. It is also used to show that the citizens of the
region are exploited, deprived, and marginalized due to being viewed as colonial
subjects of Nigeria. Part Two attempts to demonstrate that the Niger Delta is
strategically significant to the economic and political interests of Nigeria,
the West and the world. This necessitates a need for Western nations to work
hard to change the political and economic dynamics so that congruency can exist
between Western political ideals and the economic practices of Western
multinational corporations. Part two also tries to show that a failure to
ameliorate the exploitative arrangement between the Federal Government of
Nigeria and the Western oil companies over the region could lead to economic and
political instability with great ramifications.
Part One: Human Rights, Economic and Environmental
In this part, oil spills, pipeline explosions, gas
flaring, human right violations, uncooperative behavior, lack of development and
unemployment, corruption and poverty are depicted to show that due to the
availability of oil, the Niger Delta is treated as a colony. It is also used to
explain why the citizens of the region have their political, economic,
environmental, and human rights flagrantly violated.
1. Oil Spillage
Oil spillage continues to be a major
problem in the region. Contrary to the rosy picture painted by the Anglo-Dutch
Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC), the indigenes and the environment
continue to suffer from oil spillage. The citizens continue to suffer from lack
of coordinated efforts by the oil companies and the federal government to clean
up as soon as oil spillage takes place. For instance, a spillage from a pipeline
owned by the SPDC in the Karama Community of Okordia/Zarama Local Government
Area of Bayelsa State in Nigeria in June 2003 caused enormous economic and
environmental damage and hardship to the area. The spillage was not properly
cleaned and the indigenes were not evacuated by the oil company. Community
leaders in the area alleged that SPDC awarded the contract for cleaning the
spillage to a company that did not do an effective job, thereby resulting in
fires and destruction of the ecosystem (Etim, August 27, 2003).
Although, under the Land Used Decrees, as enunciated in 1978 by Gen.
Olusegun Obasanjo, the current Nigerian president, who was a military ruler
then, Nigeria is supposed to be the caretaker of all Nigerian territorial lands.
However, it appears that the Land Use Decrees were intended only to deprive the
citizens of the Niger Delta the right of ownership of the oil revenue. The
reason being that the Land Use Decrees are not stringently enforced or applied
to other mineral resources in the country. In other words, Nigerians who own
lands in which gold, tin, copper, coal etc are found, can explore and own the
profits from the exploration of such minerals. Oil seems to be the only mineral
in which the government owns totally the proceeds from exploration. This means
that the indigenes of the Niger Delta cannot earn direct income from oil. They
have to wait for the federal government to give them what it thinks they
deserve. Mr. Charles Soeze, the Director of Information and Media Relations of
the Petroleum Training Institute in Effurun, Delta State of Nigeria, noted " New
laws were made which include the Petroleum Act of 1968 and the Land Use
Decrees/Act of 1978. The legislation regulated community access to communal or
open access land and they were primarily promulgated to restrict access to such
land, while at the same time making it possible for multinational investors to
have unrestricted access to explore for oil unchallenged even on sacred land"
(Vanguard, October 21, 2003).
As a result of the Land Use Decrees, the
oil companies do not even have to consult with the rightful owners of any land
before exploring the land. They simply negotiate directly with the Nigerian
authorities and then do as they wish in the Niger Delta, regardless of how the
land owners feel. It should be noted that Nigerian leaders generally do not come
from the oil-producing region. Consequently, they pay very little attention to
the concerns of the indigenes or the environment.
The Nigeria government
only seems to be devoutly concerned with collecting the oil revenue and not very
concerned about the resultant effects of exploratory activities on the people
and the environment. Hence, it has a very poor record for cleaning the
environment after oil spillage. Not until August 2003 did the government "agreed
to carry out Environmental Impact Assessment and pay in respect of oil spill in
some communities in Warri South and Udu Local Government Councils of Delta state
in the last few years" (Igbintate, August 28, 2003). It should be recalled that
when approached by the community to pay compensation, SPDC refused, despite
series of exploratory and seismic operations (UGNL/IDSL JV 165 3D) dating back
to 1997, thereby forcing the Udu Local Government area of Delta State to
petition "the Federal, British, US, and the Netherlands governments to persuade
SPDC to pay the sum of N32 million" (Ibid.).
To show that oil spillage
is a major problem, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States
estimated that "Between 1986 and 1996, 2.5 million barrels of oil were spilled
in the Niger Delta" (Comet, March 21, 2001). This amount of spill was estimated
to be about 10 Exxon Valdez disasters. In the Alaskan disaster, Exxon responded
unhesitatingly by spending billions of dollars to clean the spillage. In the
Niger Delta, the oil companies respond at their own pace when they choose to
respond at all. For example, " A major spill at Ebubu in 1970 was set alight ,
causing irreparable damage to the ground it spilled on. At Osaro Okochi, a
leaked pipeline took more than 6 weeks before it was fixed (The Ogoni Saga,
November 3, 2003). The federal government does not even have an enforceable law
to compel the oil companies to clean the environment after a spillage or a
The oil companies routinely dump poisonous chemical
wastes in various parts of the Niger Delta. For example, the same week that a
spokesperson for SPDC, Mr. Harriman Oyofo, made a statement in Warri, Delta
State, about Shell's commitment to the development of the communities in which
it does business, the company was caught for illegally dumping poisonous
substances in farmlands in Oyibo, Rivers State (Delta Today, April 9, 2001). The
Commissioner for Environment in the Rivers State, Hon. Paworiso Samuel Horsfall
arrived at the scene during the illegal dumping exercise by the company and was
furious, describing the company's conduct as " ridiculous and unacceptable,
environmentally, anywhere in the world" (ibid.). Between 1976 and 1991, about
3,000 oil spills were reported to have taken place in the Niger Delta. Each oil
spill was estimated to have averaged about 700 barrels of oil (The Ogoni Saga,
Posted on Ijawnation on 11/3/03).
2. Oil Pipeline
To a certain extent, there is a relationship between
pipeline explosions and oil spillage. In another sense, the two are not directly
related. A spillage can take place while drilling is in progress. On the other
hand, there is always spillage when there is an explosion. Quite often, pipeline
explosions take place due to the following reasons:
(1) during drilling activity at a new site,
(2) following an accidental bursting of a pipeline while work is taking
place around the pipeline, (3) an old pipeline that
has not been checked for maintenance, (4)
vandalization by angry youths and members of the host communities, (5) oil bunkerers who steal crude oil by intentionally
breaking the pipelines.
Regardless of the reason for any pipeline
explosion, the oil companies and the federal government supposed to be
responsible for ensuring that explosions are well-managed to reduce destruction
to lives, property and the environment. In the event that they do, the oil
companies and the Nigerian government are supposed to intervene quickly and stop
them from causing health problems and environmental damage. The reality is that
neither the oil companies nor the federal government of Nigeria really cares. As
a result, whenever there is an explosion, instead of responding quickly to avert
disaster, the two entities often pretend as if they are not aware of the
disaster and expect the victimized citizens to take care of themselves. In
Nigeria, both entities have become specialized in blaming the victimized host
communities for pipeline explosions. Even when the cause of an explosion is due
to an accidental bursting of the pipeline or aging pipelines, the companies and
the government always blame the host communities first.
Due to the
prevalence of the blame-the-victim-game, quite often, the Nigerian government
and the oil companies would send security forces to clamp down on the affected
community. For example, in Jesse, Delta State, a pipeline explosion in October
1998 resulted in the death of over 1000 people. Although, vandalism was
suspected, the government did not respond immediately to assist those who were
affected. Instead, the government threatened to arrest those suspected of having
caused the problem. In July 2000, 250 people died from a pipeline explosion near
Warri. In December of the same year, a pipeline explosion in Lagos killed 60
Nigerians (Nigeria: Country Analysis briefs, march 2003). When Shell's worn out
pipeline exploded, leading to an oil spill in Ogbodo community in Ikwerre Local
Government Area of Rivers State on June 26, 2001, instead of responding with a
cleaning team, the Nigerian government sent armed Mobile policemen to the
community. The armed security force moved from one part of the community to
another, intimidating and thwarting the efforts of the people to peacefully
express their frustrations over the spill. The force was sent at the request of
the company despite the fact that it had admitted that the spill occurred as a
result of the failure of its facilities. (Naagbanton, July 11, 2001. It should
be noted that before the spill, the community depended on the Miniamu River for
drinking water and other amenities. The spill polluted the river and made it
exceedingly difficult for the people to make use of the river. Shell responded
to the water needs of the Ogbodo community by supplying water that was not
drinkable. Eventually, it was the youths in the community who cleaned the mess
without any protective gear.
It should be noted that Shell came to
Ogbodo, in Isiokpo clan of Ikwerre land in 1963 when it laid an oil pipeline.
Oil was discovered in commercial quantity in 1972. Since then, the community has
experienced many oil spills emanating from the pipeline. For instance, in June
1995, there was a blowout at the Nkpogu/Rumuekpe facility owned by the company.
There was a major fire and large quantity of crude oil polluted the Miniamu
River. Even though the company admitted that the pipeline explosion was due to
the failure of its instruments, it paid very little for the massive destruction
of the ecosystem( Ibid.).
The most recent major oil pipeline explosions
took place in the village of Amiyi-Uhu in Abia State of Nigeria in which over
120 people lost their lives. The pipeline starting leaking oil two weeks before
the explosion. Local leaders warned the authorities about the leakage but the
government, especially, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) did
nothing until the explosion took place. A local leader, Mr. Bernard Orji,
stated: "It had been leaking for the past few weeks. Somebody should have shut
down the line, but nobody did. The police knew, the local authorities here knew.
It shows the disregard for human life and that they don't give a damn about it"
(Isaacs, 2003, June 25).
Evidently, Nigeria does not have any systematic
mechanism to come to the aid of its citizens when emergency assistance is
needed. Victims of other explosions in the country have experienced the same
lack of governmental attention. Nigeria's armed forces and the police generally
do not respond to disasters as the armed forces and the police in Western and
industrialized countries. The Nigerian security forces seem to be mainly used
for maintaining security. It is very rare to hear of the Nigerian Navy rescuing
victims of shipwreck along the coastal waterways.
Just as the Western oil corporations are inflicting untold
hardship on the citizens of the Niger Delta by engaging in oil exploratory
activities with total disregard for the political and economic sensibilities of
the people, they are also wrecking the fragile ecosystem of the region through
uncontrollable gas flaring. Gas flaring takes place twenty-four hours. Some have
been burning for over 30 years.
Gas flaring is a major problem. It is
estimated that Nigeria has "180 billion cubic feet of proven natural gas, making
it the ninth largest concentration in the world.A 1989 energy conference in
South Africa estimated that Nigeria has 78 percent of the gas reserves in Africa
and of the five gas producing OPEC countries, Nigeria flares 76 per cent of her
gross production" (Soeze, p.3). Soeze noted that about two billion standard
cubic feet of gas is being flared in Nigeria. Gas flaring activities take place
mostly in the Niger Delta. Gas flaring results in the release of hydrogen
sulphide (sour gas). The hydrogen sulphide produces sulphur oxides. When sulphur
oxides mix with oxygen and water in the atmosphere, they produce acid rain. Acid
rain causes innumerable negative effects on the world, particularly the people
and the environment. The CIA Report indicated that "everyday, eight million
cubic feet of national gas are burned off in flares that light the skies across
the Delta, not only driving off 5 cms, hunting the fishing and poisoning the
agriculture, but contributing to global warming" (Comet, March 21, 2001). Thus,
the oil companies are not only destroying the Niger Delta, they are also
contributing to global warming.
The Nigerian Minister of Environment,
Dr. Imeh Okopido, proposed the total elimination of gas flaring in the oil
sector by 2004. In announcing the new policy, Dr Okopido warned against any
opposition to the new deadline by saying " If a company defaults, its license is
taken away and we can call in some other companies all over the world that are
able to produce oil and gas without flaring", (Delta Today, July 26, 2001). As
soon as the oil companies objected, insisting that it would cost too much to
acquire the technology necessary to comply with the deadline, Nigeria
capitulated to the pressure and extended the deadline for total elimination of
gas flaring to 2008. As can be seen, the oil companies have tremendous clout and
have the ability to turn Nigerian domestic policies upside down.
4. Human Rights Violations
Chevron, like Shell, Agip
and the other Western oil companies, have been very unkind to the people of the
region. The human rights of the people are constantly violated by security
forces acting on behalf of these companies. Perhaps, a catalog of military and
security activities carried out in the past ten or more years might help to
convince the doubting Western audience that these companies have been very
unkind in their treatments of the indigenes of the Niger Delta. To do justice to
this section of the article, it might be necessary to revisit Felix Tuodolo's
article titled The Ijaws: Victims of Official Terrorism," The Ogoni Saga, the
Federated Niger Delta Ijaws Reports etc.
In an attempt to suppress the
Isaac Boro rebellion in !966, Nigerian troops terrorized entire communities,
including raping of innocent women. Isaac Boro was considered to be a threat to
the free exploitation of the petroleum resources in the Niger Delta.
1987, the Iko community in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria was extensively brutalized
by a team of Nigerian Mobile Police Force, at the request of Shell.
1992, at the insistent of Shell, some youths were killed in Bonny during a
peaceful demonstration against the activities of the oil company.
April 30, 1993, during a peaceful demonstration at Nonwa against a pipeline
construction by Will Bros, an American company, the demonstrators were shot at
by Nigerian troops, wounding ten people. In July of the same year, Nigerian
troops mounted roadblocks in Ogoniland and the Nigerian security apparatus
concocted a story that the Andonis and the Ogonis were at war and used that
opportunity to attack the Ogonis (The Ogoni Saga, November 3, 2003). Due to the
highly unfriendly and exploitative nature of Shell operations in Ogoniland, the
Ogonis declared the company "persona non grata, during Ogoni Celebration.
Following the declaration, Shell conspired with Nigerian security forces to kill
at least 2000 Ogoni people and destroyed about 27 of their towns and villages
(MA Infoshop News Kiosk, January 5. 1999).
In 1996. Ogbe-Ijaw land was
rampaged by Nigerian troops in an effort to protect the interest of the oil
companies operating the Warri area.
On April 20, 1998, Saipem Nigeria
Ltd., a contracting company for Elf called on the Nigerian Mobile Police Force
to shoot at demonstrating youths in Obite village of Egi in Ogba-Egbema-Ndoni
local Government Area of Rivers State. The protests followed a pipeline
explosion in February 1998 which destroyed farmlands, wetlands, and plantations
(Usher, 1000, January 24).
Between December 29 and 31, 1998, Nigerian
troops arrived in Yenagoa and surrounding communities, including Ovu, Yenegwe,
Amarat, Ekeki, Opolo, Agudama, Mbiama etc. in Bayelsa State to supposedly
protect the investment of the oil companies. During a peaceful demonstration,
the troops killed eleven peaceful demonstrators and wounded several hundreds in
the front of the Government House in Yenagoa. All told, about fifteen people
were killed. In addition, women and children were raped and
January 2, 1999, in reaction to the Kaiama Declaration made by
Ijaw youths, Nigerian soldiers were dispatched to Kaiama Town in Bayelsa State
in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. They ransacked, looted, and killed several
people, including Chief Sergeant Ofoniama, the Chief (Amananowei) of
January 3/4, 1999, Nigerian troops stationed at the Chevron's
Mandagho oil farm plant, near Warri, were transported by Chevron helicopters and
sea transport vehicles to attack and destroy Ikenyan and Opia Ijaw communities
in Delta State. The chief of Ikenya was also killed. It should be noted that
Chevron and Shell have tank farms around the vicinity of Ikenyan and Opia. For
instance, Chevron has a tank farm in Mandagho. Abouit 200 hundred Nigerian
troops are stationed in the Mandagho facility, supposedly to protect the farm.
There is also the Jones Creek flow station, as well as the Abiteye flow station,
owned by Chevron (Ijaw Council for Human Rights,March 24, 2003.).
January 3, 1999, in order to suppress opposition to further exploitation of the
Niger Delta and demands for the Nigerian government to respond to the Kaiama
Declaration, troops were dispatched to Odi, Sagbama, Patani, Aven, and Bomadi
junction. This forced the residents to ran away from their towns. Again,
molestation, detention, and unnecessary harassment were perpetrated. In
addition, women and children were raped, as is always the case when Nigerian
troops are sent to the Niger Delta.
On January 11, 1999, Ijaw women who
were engaged in a peaceful demonstration over the exploitation and
marginalization of their people in Port Harcourt were violently tear-gassed,
beaten, stripped, and detained by a combined teamed of policemen and
On January 30, 1999, about eight (8) Ijaw youths were killed at
Agip's Obama flow station over a peaceful demonstration. Six were killed
instantly while two died later.
Also, on the same day, at Ogulagha by
SPDC Forcados Terminal, youths who were demonstrating peacefully, following the
Kaiama Declaration, were shot at and nineteen (19) were killed.
February 14 and 16, 1999, Nigerian soldiers raided Okigbene and Ferebaghabene
communities and destroyed several houses.
On April 19, 1999, about twenty
people, including children were shot and wounded at Ogbogu Town in Egi, Rivers
State by a police unit often referred to as Operation Flush. The incident began
when angry youths seized a vehicle belonging to Sdem Erectors, a sub-contractor
to Ponticelli Nigeria Limited and Elf, following a pipeline explosion and
dismissal of some employees (Ibid).
On Febrauary 28, an Ijaw youth was
killed at the Nembe Waterside in Port Harcourt by men of the Operation
On March 14, 1999, a team of soldiers and MobilePolicemen went
into Odi and killed a youth and injured five others.
On April 19, 1999,
operating under the code named Hakuri, security forces invaded Ikebiri1 and 11
at the request of Agip Oil Company. Eight innocent demonstrators were killed and
several people wounded.
On April 28, 1999, two Ijaw youths were killed by
soldiers in Fish Town and many were hospitalized.
On May 17, 1999, two
Ijaw youths were killed by soldiers escorting a Shell barge at
On May 27, 1999, Sahara-Ama was burnt down by unknown
persons. This town is a host to Chevron's oil operational center. Likewise,
Tsekelewu and Opuama had their lands and forests destroyed by Chevron (Ijaw
Council for Human Rights, March 24, 2003).
On May 28, following a
protests in which about 120 Ilaje youths occupied Chevron's construction barge
at the Parabe's production platform and demanded "financial compensation for
environmental damage to freshwater supplies and fishing grounds, more employment
opportunities, more scholarships and provision of basic social amenities such as
drinking water," the company invited a Nigerian security force made up of
personnel from the Navy and the Mobile Police to take action. In the company of
Chevron's security chief, the security force, transported by the company's
helicopters, shot at the youths, killing two and wounding many.
27, 1999, Ten Ijaw persons were arrested along the Benin River by soldiers on
patrol. The whereabouts of those ten are still unknown. It is certain that the
soldiers had killed them. These men were returning home from a meeting with the
SPDC following an oil spill in Egbema.
On August 14, 1999, an Ijaw youth
was killed by soldiers at the Ogbe-Ijaw waterfront.
Between September 9
and 13, 1999, a combined team of soldiers and Mobile Policemen killed about 50
Ijaw people, including men and women at Yenagoa.
On September 20, 1999, a
team of Nigerian Mobile Policemen and an expatriate staff of Shell, working for
the Nigerian Liquedified Natural Gas, shot protesting Ijaws in Bonny. Several
people were wounded.
On October 1999, an Ijaw fisherman, Atonye Minabo,
was killed by Nigerian soldiers at the Soku Gas Plant in Oluashiri/Soku in Degam
Local Government Area of Rivers State.
On October 12, 1999, one Fefegha
was killed by Nigerian soldiers in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
On November 6,
1999, Sunday Konyeta, a councilor, was killed by Nigerian soldiers at NPA in
Warri, Delta State.
On November 13, 1999, three Ijaws were killed at
Obama and Akamabou by Nigerian soldiers.
On November 19, 1999, nine Ijaws
were killed at the NPA wharf in Port Harcourt.
On November 20, 1999,
Nigerian soldiers, under code name "Hakuri 11", mounted an attack against Odi
Town, supposedly to arrest some miscreants. The entire town was burnt down and
over 300 people were killed. The Odi invasion, is perhaps, the most widely
reported of the atrocities committed against the Ijaws in the Niger Delta to
make sure that the indigenes do not oppose oil exploration.
Oyibo of Okerenkoko was killed in a SPDC surveillance activity carried out by
SPDC hired hands. The hired hands generally patrol the Jones Creek Flow
On May 2000, three Ijaw youths were killed by soldiers guiding
Agip oil facilities in Brass.
During the same month, seventeen (17)
others were killed in Etiama.
On September 2000, eight (8) Ijaws were
killed in Olugbobiri.
On December 11, 2002, Mr. Lofe Umagba was killed
by Nigerian soldiers at the Upoko/Opumani oil field.
On January 23, 2002,
Nigerian troops invaded Liama and Egweama following the seizure of some oil
company boats by youths from the area. News reports indicated that the troops
burnt houses and killed some people in the area. Thousands of citizens in the
area fled to escape the rampaging troops (News Report Journal, January 24,
On November 1, 2002, Okerenkoko Town was torched by the Nigerian
Navy. The Chairman of Okerenkoko community, Mr. Otuaro Kinglsy estimated that 11
houses were burnt down, nine houses were destroyed and millions of naira worth
of property were destroyed. (Okafor, 2002, November 13). The community decided
to sue the Navy.
On March 13, 2003, the Nigerian Navy blockaded the Warri
waterways. In the process, they beat, molested,and shot at people
indiscriminately and commandeered civilian boats. Thereafter, a combined team of
the Navy and the Army, at Gbaramatu Kingodom of Ijawland, attacked fishermen and
five of those people have never been found again.
The Warri wars of 2003
was partly instigated by the activities of Chevron, Shell, some Nigerian naval
officers, and greedy oil bunkerers (oil thieves).. For instance, the military
engagement between Ijaw youths and the security forces (Navy, Army, and the
Police) in March 2003 began when Ijaw youths intercepted a barge used for oil
bunkering on the Escravos River . The Ijaws alleged that the barge was connected
to the Nigerian Navy and the SPDC. In other words, they alleged that some
officers of the Navy were involved with oil bunkering and their effort to stop
it angered the Navy. The FNDIC stated "The Navy is particularly vindictive of a
court case brought by the Ijaw against them.for an extra judicial naval invasion
of Okerenkoko community 1st November 2002, and an illegal bunkering by some
naval Men on 12th March, 2003 allegedly disrupted by some Ijaw at Jones creek"
(Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, 2003, March 19).
5. Uncooperative Behavior Resulting in Legal
Despite the fact that the federal Government of Nigeria
and the oil companies have earned billions of dollars from oil exploration in
the Niger Delta, the region is considered to be one of the most underdeveloped
in Africa. Just as the Nigerian government is uncooperative and exploitative
toward the region, the oil companies too behave similarly. Despite the great
sacrifices that the indigenes have made in order to accommodate the oil
companies and the Nigerian government, they have been paid in kind by brutal
security measures. For example, when the Ogoni people demanded an equitable
compensation for the oil exploration and the destruction of their territory,
Nigeria and Shell joined forces to brutalize and terrorize them. The Ijaws,
Ikwerres, Igbos, Edos, Itsekiris, Urhobos, Ibibios, Ilajes, The Yorubas of Ondo
Isokos, etc. in the oil-producing areas have equally been brutalized. Due to
lack of cooperation and an unwillingness to pay just compensation, the Ijaws had
to go to court to force the oil companies to compensate them. For example, the
Ijaws had to file a $500 billion lawsuit against President Olusegun Obasanjo,
the National Assembly, the attorney generals of the 36 states, the Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell Petroleum development Company
(SPDC), Nigerian Agip Oil Company, (NAOC), Elf Totalfina Petroleum Company,
Texaco, Overseas Petroleum Company of Nigeria (TOPCON), Mobil Producing Nigeria
Unlimited, and Chevron Nigeria Limited. The suit was filed sometime in July of
2001 for "injustice occasioned by oil production in Ijaw land" (Delta Today,
July 30, 2001).
As part of the effort to seek compensation for all the
years of oil exploration and exploitation, the Ijaws were able to persuade the
Nigerian House of Representatives to order Shell Petroleum Development Company
(SPDC), Nigeria Limited to "pay the sum of US$1.5 billion to Ijaw Aborigines of
Bayelsa State as compensation for the untold hardship and environmental
devastation it has brought the Ijaws since 1956" (Ughegbe, March 12, 2003). As
of this writing, SPDC has not responded financially to the terms stipulated by
the Nigerian National Assembly. The Ijaws are still waiting, hoping that Shell
will act in good faith.
The Ogonis had earlier taken action to force
compensation. However, due to lack of faith in the Nigerian judicial system, the
Ogoni people, led by the family of the late Saro Wiwa had to sue the Anglo-Shell
(SPDC) in the United States federal court. The Ogonis sued the company over the
allegation that "Shell cooperated with the military government in the
persecution and eventual execution of the Ogoni activists ( Lobe, March 6,
2002). The suit further alleged that "Shell provided material and other support
to the military in what environmental groups like the Sierra Club have
characterized as a scorched earth campaign against Ogoni communities which
opposed local oil operations" (Ibid.)The Ogoni case against Shell is one of
series of efforts by minority groups "in oil-producing countries to sue oil
companies active in their region for human rights abuses under the Alien Tort
Claims Act, an anti-piracy statute.(Ibid.).
Lack of Development and Unemployment
The Niger Delta is highly
underdeveloped, despite the fact that it is the breadbasket of Nigeria. James
Whittington of the BBC (2001, December 28) aptly described the economic dilemma
of the region when he stated: "The oil region in Nigeria seems to be stuck in a
time warp, with little real change since oil was discovered 45 years ago. Away
from the main towns there is no real development, no roads, no electricity, no
running water and no telephone."
The underdevelopment is so severe that
the only road linking the Niger Delta states, the East-West Road, is in total
disrepair. While hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent to construct,
reconstruct, dualize and modernize major roads in other parts of the country,
the East-West road is abandoned to its fate because it is in the Niger Delta.
The road is extremely dangerous. The youths of the region are the hardest hit by
the lack of development. This is why many of them have resorted to militancy in
an effort to focus national and international attention to their
Thus, contrary to the rosy picture painted by Shell over its
contributions to the host communities in which it does business, the truth is
that Shell and other oil companies have never positively contributed to the
development of the region. It should be noted that the oil companies generally
do not hire its employees from the oil-producing region of Nigeria. Most
Nigerian employees of the oil companies are from the non-oil producing regions.
This pattern of employment cuts across both management and lower level jobs. A
leader of a protesting women's group stated:
children and our husbands have never been employed by the company (Shell). We
want to know why they should continue to operating here" (The San
Francisco Bay, 2003, September 17).
The lack of employment and
development led members of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly to launch a protest
against Mobil Producing Company of Nigeria around May 18, 2001. Mobil is the
largest oil company in this part of the Niger Delta with a major facility at
Eket. The company produces about 640,00 barrels of oil per day in the area,
thereby, making it the second largest producer of crude oil in Nigeria (Yahoo
mail, May 20, 2001). Following the protest by the state's political leaders, the
youths mounted two weeks of intermittent blockades against the company. The
protest and the blockades were in response to Mobil's very poor record in the
employment of state indigenes. The protesters wanted the company to hire state
residents or leave their territory.
Unemployment and underdevelopment
have increasingly forced women in the region to become politically active in
protesting against oil company activities in their communities. Foe example, the
women of Ugborodo in Delta State, mounted an 11-day protest against
Chevron-Texaco at its Escravos Oil terminal around July 2002 over erosion and
oil pollution caused by the operations of the company. The protest was called
off after the company promised to invest in the local area. The women later
carried out another protest over the failure of the company to live up to its
promises. A 60 -year-old Dumi Afini noted,
"There is virtually nothing on
the ground to show there has been an agreement. It was mere paperwork to douse
the tension. Nothing has been implemented When they promise jobs, you will not
be told what kind of job you will do. We have to sit down again with Chevron and
this time with intellectuals who will adequately represent the people and their
interests" (Vanguard, November 27, 2002).
The Ugborodo protest was
followed by a joint interethnic group of women protesters from the Ijaw, Ilaje,
and Itsekiri ethnic groups. They stormed Chevron facilities, demanding
employment for their people. The company, in alliance with Nigeria's security
forces, forcifully ejected the women from the company's facility, thereby
resulting in the death of one of the protesters.
Undaunted, about 300
women from Amukpe town in Delta State mounted a protest by occupying a Shell
facility in their neighborhood in August 2003. The women were protesting against
the fencing of a gas flaring facility which they frequently use. They argued
that "since the company makes millions of dollars from oil taken from their
land, it has a moral responsibility to improve their living standards" (BBC
NewsAfrica, August 18, 2003).
Recently, about 2000 women from Ikebiri 1,
Ikebiri 11, and Opuadino in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State
took over an Agip Bintang Kalamantang oil rig in October 2003. The mostly
pregnant, aged, and nursing women and their children were protesting against
injustice that has been perpetrated by Agip on their communities since it began
operations there in 1969. The women also protested following the failure of Agip
to carry out promises made earlier. According to a leader of the women's group,
Mrs. Suoyo Mathew, the "present protest is remotely a reflection of the peoples
bottled anger due to Agip's refusal to compensate the three communities over an
oil spillage in 1992 from Agip;s 10-0D oil pipeline in Ikebiri" (Posted on
Ijawnation, October 2003).
The oil companies have no regard for the
indigenes of the Niger Delta. This is understandable, since they obtain their
right to drill for oil from Nigeria's corrupt leaders who seem to care more
about filling their pockets than serving the Nigerian nation. James Whittington
of the BBC (2001, December 28) noted "The government and oil companies have
profited by hundreds of billions of dollars since oil was first discovered. Yet
most Nigerians living in the oil producing regions are living in dire poverty."
Since the oil companies deal directly with the national leaders, they have no
use for those who actually own the lands. As a result, they can afford to make
promises with the indigenes and broke them whenever they choose to do so. They
know that if the indigenes threaten their interests, Nigerian leaders would send
the security forces to teach them a lesson. The coded "Hakuri 11" is a military
strategy intended to suppress opposition to oil exploration in the Niger Delta.
7. Corruption and
Corruption is rampant in Nigeria. Part of the reason
involves the manner in which the multinational oil companies do business. They
prefer to do business in Nigeria through the backdoor. In short, multinational
oil companies are partially, if not greatly responsible for the massive
corruption in the country. This view can be supported by the fact that before
oil became a major source of revenue, Nigeria's political leaders in the First
Republic (1960-1966) were able to manage the economy with the little financial
resources at their disposal to such a degree that Nigerians lived fairly well.
Xavier Sala-I-Martin and Arvind Subramanian (2003, August 18) noted in their
"In PPP terms, Nigeria's per capita GDP was US$1.113 in 1970 and
is estimated to have been only US$1, 0884 in 2000. Between 1970 and 2000, the
poverty rate, measured as the share of the population subsisting on less than $1
per day, increased from close to 36 percent to just under 70 percent. This
translates into an increase in the number of poor from about 19 million in 1970
to a staggering 90 million in 2000."
This does not mean that leaders in
the First Republic were not corrupt. Even the corrupt ones made constructive
efforts to institute developments in their areas of authority.
became a major source of revenue, Nigerians thought that their standard of
living would improve remarkably. Some thought that Nigeria would develop to a
level comparable to Taiwan, South Korea, and, Singapore. Instead, a vast
majority of Nigerians are getting poorer. The Charity Christian Aid noted "In
the 40 years since exploitation started, the number of Nigerians on less than
US$1 a day has grown from 27% of the population to 66%, the World Bank says"
(BBC News, May 12, 2003). For the Niger Delta, which is the main base of oil
production, the people actually experienced more poverty and deprivation. The
non-governmental organization further stated that "Successive military leaders
have diverted billions of oil money into bank accounts around the
world.meanwhile, the Niger Delta, where much of the oil production takes place,
is widely polluted, and its people put down by a military widely believed to
have sometimes acted at the behest of the oil companies" (BBC News, May 12,
Evidence of massive corruption was vividly demonstrated when the
late Gen. Sani Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1995 to 1998, was found to have
looted over $4 billion dollars. Trevor Johnson (2000, November 10) commented:
"The recent investigations by the Nigerian government into the laundering of
over $4 billion by the former military regime of General Abacha - using banks in
the UK, Switzerland, the US, Germany, Luzembourg and elsewhere-makes clear the
vested interests that stood behind the dictatorship."
The departure of
the military from the political scene in Nigeria has not stopped massive
embezzlement of public funds. Some Nigerians are even speculating that the
current civilian regime of President Obasanjo would surpass the other regimes in
the scale of embezzlement. Thus, there is no relief in sight for
The coalition formed by the oil companies and Nigeria's
political, military, and business leaders to exploit the Niger Delta continues
undisturbed. Bronwen Manby, the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Watch noted,
"The Nigerian government still seems to support oil production at any cost, and
the oil companies too often go along with whatever the government does - or even
make things worse" (Lobe, 2002, October 24). The leaders provide security
through the Nigerian armed forces and police and the oil companies pay kickbacks
amounting to millions of dollars to the leaders and high government officials.
For example, it was revealed that Halliburton, a Texas based energy company
doing business in the Niger Delta, paid "a $2.4 million to a Nigerian government
official in return for tax breaks related to operations in the West African
country" (Cason, May 9, 2003). This revelation is only a tip of the iceberg of
the corrupt relationship between oil companies and leaders of the country. The
managing Director of the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC) was
alleged to have been involved in a shaky oil deal involving Gambia and Nigeria.
The Financial and Economic Crimes Commission (FECC) has been investigating the
allegations (Ujah, 2003, June 6).
Generally, the terms of contracts
between the oil companies and the Nigerian government are never revealed to the
public. Nigerian leaders and the oil companies are really not interested in
publicizing figures. The Africa Center for Geo-classical Economics, a
non-governmental organization, called on the Nigerian government and the oil
companies to reveal the terms of oil deals being made between the two entities.
Mr. Gordon Abiama believed that the secret deals contribute to corruption in the
oil sector and recommended that " stock exchange worldwide should compel listed
oil and gas companies to publish an annual figure in non-technical terms of the
total net payments they make to the countries where they operate" (Oyadongha,
August 12, 2003). Secret oil deals in Nigeria are very similar to the secret oil
deals being made between Equatorial Guinea and the multinational oil
It is not an overstatement to imply that multinational oil
companies are major instruments of corruption. For instance, a legal trial in
France revealed that Elf-Aquitaine, the French oil giant, had embarked on
bribery schemes in oil producing countries. According to the reports, the chief
executive, Loik Le Floch-Prigent, general affairs manager, Alfred Sirven, and
the company's African representative, Andre Tarallo, were allegedly involved in
maintaining secret accounts, bribery schemes, personal favors, and political
influence-buying that was officially sanctioned by successive French
governments. The schemes involved billions of illicit money. The Mobil Oil
Corporation, which is now part of Exxon-Mobil is alleged to have been involved
in a corruption scheme in which about $500 million was paid "into the private US
bank account, said to be solely controlled by the President of Equatorial
Guinea" (Lashmar, (May 11, 2003). The money was alleged to have been deposited
in the Dupont Circle branch of Riggs Bank in Washington, DC. Global Witness, an
anticorruption interest group, wants the US Secretary of Justice to investigate
and possibly prosecute the culprits. . It is further reported that the same
company is being investigated by the US Justice Department for alleged "plan to
route $78 million to the Swiss bank account of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan
The Niger Delta, as indicated above, has been
subjected to series of heart-wrenching policies, actions, and experiences by
Nigeria's leaders and multinational oil companies. The oil is more valued than
the people who inhabit the region. For instance, after Nigerian troops destroyed
Odi Town in November 1999, the Defense Minister, Ret. Lt. Gen. Theophilus
Danjuma justified the action in a ministerial conference on November 25, 1999,
by saying that the Odi operation was initiated with the mandate of protecting
lives and property "particularly oil platforms, flow stations, operating rig
terminals and pipelines, refineries and power installation in the Niger Delta"
(IRIN Report, 1999, December 30). Soon after the Odi operation, Lt. Col
Agbabiaka, the commander of the forces which ransacked the town, was promoted,
despite the severity of the human rights violations. The military action and the
promotion of the officer were carried out by a supposedly democratic government
of Nigeria. It should be recalled that after the Ogonis were subjected to
military brutalization, during the military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha, the
officer in charge of the Anti-Ogoni operation, Major Paul Okuntimo was promoted
to the rank of a colonel. On the other hand, when a US military officer, merely
threatened an Iraqi civilian, he was forced to retire from the military. In
Nigeria, there is no punishment for military and police officers who violate the
rights of innocent civilians.
Part II: The
Strategic Importance of the Niger Delta
between Western oil companies and the indigenes of the Niger Delta, as shown
above, seems to be very unhealthy. Western multinational companies doing
business in the Niger Delta have singularly pursued a very narrowly focused
economic agenda, based on maximizing the exploitation of the bounties of the
region without giving anything in return, in terms of infrastructural
development, affordable housing, education and training for the youths, medical
facilities, economic development, pipe-borne water, rural electrification,
sustainable environmental management, and an equitable compensation for the
exploration and the use of the land. In short, the indigenes of the Niger Delta
do not get anything for the use and destruction of their lands and the
A cynic might say that it is not the responsibility of
private companies to develop communities in which they do business. The person
might further add that it is the responsibility of the government to do so.
Therefore, the cynic could argue that it is solely the duty of the Federal
Government of Nigeria to develop the Niger Delta and not the oil companies.
Nonetheless, it can be inferred that the relationship between the
citizens of the Niger Delta and the multinational oil companies, during the
twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, has not changed remarkably from the
relationship between them and the Royal Niger Company in the nineteenth century.
The attitude toward the indigenes and the economic objectives of the Royal Niger
Company, the modern Anglo-Dutch Shell (SPDC), Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, Agip,
Ellf-Acquitaine etc.are incredulously similar if not the same. The Royal Niger
Company used force to compel the indigenes to forego their economic rights. The
modern oil giants are doing exactly the same, using security forces, and
conspiring with corrupt Nigerian leaders to stifle the rights of the people
while exploiting the resources beneath their territories.
relationship with the citizens of the Niger Delta need not be based on mutual
antagonism engendered by perceptions of exploitation and marginalization. In
fact, it can be emphasized that there is a strong need for a paradigm change in
the relationship between the two. The need for change is accentuated by the fact
that the Niger Delta and the West can build a very positive political and
economic relationship that can last for a very long time. The need for change is
also necessitated by the fact that the West and the industrialized world needs
extensive petroleum resources to drive their engines of economic development and
the indigenes of the Niger Delta need the financial resources to develop their
lands, enhance their economic growth, and sustain the environment.
However, for a mutually benefiting relationship to take place, Western
nations ( the United States, Britain, Holland, France, Italy etc.) need to be
politically more involved in persuading their oil companies: SPDC,
Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, Agip, Elf-Aquitaine etc. to adopt a more humanistic
approach in their business practices and become proactive in assisting the
positive development of the region. It also requires them to recognize that the
Niger Delta is strategically very important to their political and economic
well-being as well as the stabilization of the international oil market.
Perhaps, it might be more educative and persuasive if the reasons why the Niger
Delta is strategically very significant to the West/industrialized world are
spelt out in economic and political terms.
Economic Considerations: The strategic significance of the Niger
Delta to Nigeria and the West cannot be underestimated. It is indeed a region
with enormous economic benefit to all the stakeholders. Since Anglo-Dutch Shell,
otherwise known in Nigeria as the SPDC arrived in Nigeria in 1927, it has reaped
enormous benefits for itself, Nigeria, Britain, and Holland. Since that epochal
arrival, other Western oil companies have followed suit. Other giant
multinational oil companies doing business in the Niger Delta include BP
(Britain), Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, Halliburton, William Brothers, Litwin
etc. (USA), Agip (Italy), Total Fina (Italy), Elf-Aquitaine (France), Ramboil
(Canada), Statoil (Norway), Dietsman Comerint (Netherland), SASOL (South Africa)
a. Oil Revenue: Although, it is much
difficult to concisely estimate the total revenue that these giant oil companies
have generated for themselves and their home countries in the West, it is
possible to infer that since Nigeria is estimated to have earned more than $350
billion, after payments to the oil companies, in the last thirty five years
(using 1995 oil prices) of oil exploration in the Niger Delta, these companies
too have inferably earned sizable incomes from doing business in the region. It
should also be noted that Nigeria was estimated to earn about $12 billion
annually from oil activities in 1999(Charette, 1999, February). The CIA (2001,
March 21) noted that oil extraction has "generated immense profit." This is not
doubtable, following the increasing desire of the oil companies to invest
billions of dollars on both onshore and offshore oil and gas explorations as
more discoveries are made.
b. Proven Oil Reserves:
Nigeria is estimated to have 24 to 31.5 billion barrels of proven oil
reserves (Nigeria:Contry Analysis, March 2003). Nigeria produces between 2
million and 2.118 million barrels of oil per day, depending on an approved OPEC
quota and oil price fluctuations. Anglo-Dutch Shell (SPDC) produces 50% of
Nigeria's crude oil, ENI/Agip
The Anglo-Dutch Shell planned to invest
$8.5 billion in a five year period. Elf is intended to invest $1 billion on its
Amenam field. Chevron planned to build a Liquefied Natural Gas plant in
Escravos, teaming up with South Africa's SASOL company (The Washington Times,
As Nigeria tries to increase its oil production capacity, there
is an increasing search for more oil offshore. The search has yielded a number
of discoveries. For instance, SPDC announced that its Bonga discovery would
yield about 600 million to 1 billion barrels of oil reserve per day. The Bonga
reserve alone would increase Shell's production capacity to about 350,000
billion barrels of oil per day. In 1997, Shell made the Ngolo reserve discovery.
The Ngolo was estimated to yield about 100 million barrels of reserves.
(Washington Times.). Other oil companies immediately joined Shell to share the
potential reserves. Exxon got 20%, ENI/Agip got 12.5% and Elf Aquitaine got the
Agip struck the Abo reserves which was estimated to
have 4,800 billion barrels of oil reserve per day in 1996. It had promised to
start production in 2001. The BP/Amoco signed a joint venture with a 35% share
while Exxon signed for a 25% share of the find (Ibid.). A Nigerian local oil
firm, Famfa Oil and Texaco discovered the Agabami reserves in January 1999. This
find was estimated to have several million recoverable oil reserves. Norway's
Statoil company discovered the Nnowa reserves which was also estimated to
contain several million barrels of oil reserves.
Gas Reserves: Since Nigeria has abundant gas deposits on both onshore and
offshore, the effort to tap into the vast gas fields have led the oil companies
to scramble for a piece of the action. Nigeria is estimated to have 157 trillion
cubic feet (tcf) of gas reserves. The gas reserve potential is estimated at 300
trillion cubic feet. This makes Nigeria the tenth largest proven natural gas
reserve in the world (Ibid). Out of this massive reserve, Nigeria currently use
only about 12% of the gas to enhance oil recovery while flaring away about
The Liquefied Natural Gas Project in Bonny, Rivers State, was
estimated at $3.7 to $3.8 billion. The Nigerian National Petroleum Company
(NNPC) has 49 percent share in the project.while Shell has 26.6%, Elf has 15%,
Agip has 10.4% share (Washington Times).
To extend the gas market to
other West African countries, a gas pipeline is intended to connect Nigeria to
Benin, Togo, and Ghana was planned for three years ago. Chevron, Shell, NNPC,
Ghanaian National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Societe Beninoise de Gaz of
Benin and Societe Togolaise de Gaz are jointly involved in this project
Western energy companies which have signed deals with Nigeria's
NNPC to purchase natural gas supplies include Italy's ENEL electric company
(49%), Spain's Enagas at 22%, Turkey's Botas at 17%, France's Gaz de France at
7%, and Portugal's Trangas at 5%. Another gas project which was scheduled to
start in the late 2002 had Spain's Enagas agreeing to buy 70% of the gas for 21
years and Transgas of Portugal agreeing to a 1 billion cubic feet of gas deal
While it is particularly difficult to pinpoint how much each
Western oil company has made financially through investment in Nigeria's oil
industry, it can be said that they are not doing bad at all. If they were not
earning considerable profits, they would have left Nigeria by now. After all,
Shell has been in operation since 1927. Agip came to Nigeria in 1961 and
continues to operate successfully. If the Niger Delta were not yielding much
profit, the western oil companies would not have been so eager to invest
billions of dollars in the increasing deep sea oil and gas explorations around
the Nigerian coast.
The economic stakes are enormous, as far as the Niger
Delta is concerned. Western nations need to seriously pay attention to the
region since their economies partially depend on the successful operations of
their oil companies in Nigeria. For example, when the liquefied natural gas
reserves fields have been fully explored, operationalized, and piped for
commercial usage, many western nations, including Portugal, Spain, Turkey,
Britain, the US, etc will depend, to a great, on a steady supply of gas from the
Niger Delta region of Nigeria to heat their homes and facilitate their
If the Niger Delta were to become very unstable,
the financial and economic interests of Anglo-Dutch, which is the largest oil
company in Nigeria, Chevron-Texaco, Exxon-Mobil, Agip, Total-Fina, Statoil,
SASOL, etc. would be severely threatened. Such a development would lead to the
devaluation of their stocks in Britain, the US, Holland, France, Italy, Japan,
Canada, Norway etc. If their stocks were devalued, stockholders in various
countries would experience financial setbacks. If the stock owners were to
experience such setbacks, the economies of Britain, the US, Holland, France,
Italy, Norway etc. would also experience some kind of economic recession or
Such a development would probably lead to an increase in oil
prices, thereby compounding the financial problems of the aforementioned
countries and citizens. The inflation arising from oil price increases would
most probably compel political leaders in Britain, the US, Holland, France,
Italy, Japan, etc. to scramble for a solution in order to stabilize the Niger
Delta since the Middle East is already volatile. Of course, instability in the
Niger Delta would not create the kind of impact that the 1973 Middle East oil
embargo had on the economies of the industrialized countries, it could,
nevertheless, make matters very complicated in the oil market.
d. Avoiding Short-term Economic Objectives: The Niger Delta
also provides an opportunity for Western nations, citizens and their
multinational companies to demonstrate to the world that they have changed their
attitudes regarding the achievement of short-term economic objectives. In the
past, especially during the Cold War, Western nations contributed immensely in
installing and propping up dictatorial and authoritarian regimes in regions of
the world where Western economic interests were at stake. This was done for
short-term economic and political gains with the resultant effects being very
costly to the long-term strategic interests of the West. For example, Prime
Minister Patrice Lumumba was overthrown in the early 1960s because he had
planned to nationalize businesses that were involved in mineral resources
extraction in the country. Since his ouster and violent death, the Republic of
the Congo has never been the same again. More than four million Congolese have
died, yet, there is no hope of peace in the immediate future.
Mosedegh, the political leader of Iran was overthrown and replaced by the Shah
of Iran to make it easier for Western oil companies to explore for oil in the
country. Dr Mosedegh had threatened to nationalize the oil industry and the
multinational companies did not like that. The Shah was put in power and propped
up supposedly to stabilize the country for the oil business and the security of
the Persian Gulf Region. The Iranians got tired of the Shah's authoritarian ways
and drove him out of power in 1979. The revolution was led by Ayatollah
Khomeini. The Iranian Revolution spurred the emergence of a militant or
fundamentalist international Islamic movement. The US and other western
countries are now spending billions in an attempt to contain Islamic militancy
in many parts of the world.
Short-term objectives persuaded Western
countries and the Soviet Union to support and propped up Saddam Hussein. During
the 1980s, he was given all sorts of assistance, including conventional arms,
biochemical agents, agricultural loans etc. The West remained quiet and
supportive while he attacked Iran, used biochemical weapons against the Kurds
and the Iranians and killed thousands of Iraqis. Well, the West will probably
now spend more than $100 billion to stabilize Iraq after driving Saddam from
It is hoped that the West will not make the same mistake by
remaining quiet while the indigenes of the Niger Delta are suppressed and
exploited by Nigerian leaders and the oil companies. So far, it appears that the
Western nations have not learnt from the past mistakes and have been very quiet
over the Nigerian situation. The same could be said of Equatorial Guinea where
the leader is being propped up, regardless of his authoritarian style of
leadership. It is a common African saying that prevention is better than cure.
This means that the West should try to ameliorate the Niger delta situation now,
instead of remaining quiet before the situation gets out of control. The DRC,
Iran, and Iraq are excellent cases to encourage the west from allowing their
multinational companies to engage in exploitative economic arrangements that
could lead to conflict.
2. The Political
a. Political Marriage:
The romance between the Niger Delta and the West began when the Portuguese first
arrived at the Niger Delta coast of West Africa in the fifteenth century. Trade
between the Europeans and the Africans began immediately. This was followed by
British political colonization of the Nigerian region. Thus, Britain created
Nigeria and the Niger Delta is part of Nigeria. Since the creation of Nigeria,
whether for better or worse, Nigerians and the West have forged political,
cultural, economic, historical, and psychological relationships and
interpersonal linkages that continue to remain so, despite occasional friction.
Nigeria, through its actions, has consistently demonstrated its relationship
with the West. At its independence in October 1st, 1960, Nigeria adopted the
Parliamentary system of government. The parliamentary system is most associated
with Britain. When the system did not serve the country well, Nigeria began to
experiment with the Presidential system in the 1980s. The presidential system is
particularly associated with the United States. The current political
dispensation is basically presidential. During the Cold War, Nigeria steadfastly
remained in the pro-Western camp and never threatened to become a communist
country. Political discussions about reforming the Nigerian economic system have
centered on adopting strategies and tactics that are not fundamentally opposed
to Western models of economic development, including a need to reduce the size
of the public sector and increasing the role of the private sector in
spearheading economic growth. The indigenes of the Niger Delta also identify
with these economic options and want an even greater decentralization of the
economy so that states, local governments, and citizens can become active
participants in making economic decisions that affects their lives. This is the
impetus for their call for resources control. They believe that oil revenue will
be better managed if the oil producing states assume direct control of the
management of the petroleum sector since they have a greater stake in the
b. United Nigeria: Although,
bedeviled by perennial misrule, utter economic mismanagement, and corruption,
due to lack of dedicated leadership, Nigeria continues to be technically the
jewel in the crown of British geopolitical influence, the bridge to Sub-Saharan
Africa, and the hope of African development, modernization, and security. As a
result, it is strategically significant for Nigeria to remain as one nation so
that various aspirations can be achieved.
However, the hope of Nigerians,
Africans in general, and the West could be shattered or dashed if the Niger
Delta situation vis-ŕ-vis revenue allocation and development are not resolved in
a manner that is beneficial to all stake holders. The Western nations,
particularly Britain, and the United States, have a moral responsibility to
persuade Nigerian power-wielders to amicably resolve the Niger Delta issues so
that the country does not fall apart or become an economic basket case due to
continuing mismanagement, excessive corruption, and the unjustifiable
distribution of the oil revenue. The region presently holds the economic key to
the survival of Nigeria as a viable state. Oil, which is mostly found in the
Niger Delta, accounts for "50 percent of Nigeria's gross domestic product (GDP)
and 95 percent of the country's foreign exchange earnings"(Washington Times
September 30, 1999).
c. Regional Security: It
is not a secret that the security and political stability of the West African
region partially depends on the viability of Nigeria. In other words, the United
Nations, the West, and the African people expect Nigeria to play a greater role
in the stabilization of the continent, especially, West Africa, in times of
crisis. Nigeria assisted immeasurably in stabilizing Sierra Leone and Liberia
during the civil wars. In the process, Nigeria lost over 2000 soldiers and spent
about $12 billion. Nigeria would not have been able to play this role if not for
the massive infusion of oil revenue from the Niger Delta into its defense
budget. For Nigeria to continue to play active role in regional and world
affairs, the Niger Delta must be stabilized through serious political
negotiations of the substantive issues. It will be impossible for Nigeria to try
to maintain security outside while its own house is burning
d. War Against terrorism: The
West, particularly the United States, is engaged in a War Against Terrorism,
after September 11, 2001, in which almost 3,000 people lost their lives to
devastating terrorist attacks, with hijacked commercial planes. For the US and
its Western allies to win the war, it needs a multilateral effort cutting across
continents, regions, cultures, religions, and societies. Likewise, the war must
be fought with strict adherence to human rights, political freedoms, and respect
for all, regardless of their size, political and economic importance or
location. On the other hand, if the war is fought with rampant abuses of the
rights of minorities, the frivolous application of authoritarian and dictatorial
security practices, the unnecessary and excessive use of military forces, and
unsubstantiated summary arrests, detentions, and executions of suspects, the war
would hardly be won since such tactics would only encourage more terrorist
actions against their "perceived oppressors."
exploitation, deprivation, and marginalization through political oppression,
especially, against communities in which multinational companies do business
would most likely add to the catalog of dissatisfied groups in the world who
would want to fight for their political and economic liberation. As can be seen,
Nigeria and the oil companies are using such tactics to clamp down on the
demands for an equitable distribution of the oil revenue, for cleaning the
environment, for reducing oil spillage, and for stopping gas flaring.
The use of strong-arm tactics to intimidate and suppress the aspirations
of the peoples of the area only seems to help in fueling strong antagonism
against the federal Government of Nigeria and the oil companies. There is no
need for the West and their oil companies to turn the indigenes of the Niger
Delta against them by adopting short-sighted policies, practices, and actions
that are inimical to mutual coexistence. It could be said that anti-western
feelings and terrorism are, to a large extent, by products of bitter experiences
encountered by various groups in the world, following exploitative business
practices of Western multinational corporations and states. The West does not
need another dissatisfied region of the world while it is engaged in the
antiterrorist war elsewhere.
It is not a coincident that anti-western
feelings and terrorism seem to thrive most in regions of the world where people
feel exploited, suppressed, marginalized, deprived, and cheated. The Middle
East, Africa, some parts of South-East Asia and Latin America, in particular,
are rife with conflicts due to the feeling of exploitation, suppression,
marginalization, deprivation, and excessive corruption. The West already has its
hands filled with turmoil in the Middle East (Israeli/Palestinian and Iraq).
Indonesia is engaged in a civil war in the Aceh region where some separatists
have been fighting the government for over 20 years due to oil related issues.
The Philippines is always in the news as some Islamic elements feel oppressed by
the existing political arrangement. Columbia has been in a state of war for more
than forty years. The country has three well-established armies vying for power.
Peru's war against the Shining Path is characterized by high tide and low tide
It makes a strategic sense not to extend the frontiers of the
terrorist war by allowing exploitative business practices to continue in the
West African region. Already, the citizens of Equatorial Guinea are already as
frustrated and displeased as the indigenes of the Niger Delta, over the
arrangement between Western oil companies and the one-man dictatorship that
exists in the country. The Equatorial Guineans have not benefited from the oil
that flows from their territory while the leader and his family have become very
Thus, the antiterrorism war cannot be won if exploitation,
suppression, marginalization, deprivation, and corruption are allowed to run
wild in countries in which Western multinational corporations do
Despite being exploited, suppressed, marginalized, deprived,
and cheated for years, the ethnic groups in the region are peace-loving people
and want to do business in an environment that is mutually beneficial to all
stakeholders. This is not an overstatement, even though lately, the news from
the region has been characterized by violence emanating from militant opposition
to further oil exploration and interethnic fights. This was not the case for
almost forty years. It should be recalled that an effort to explore for oil in
the Niger Delta began in 1951 when the Anglo-Dutch Shell began drilling at
Ihuofer Exploration. A successful oil discovery in Oloibiri, in Ogbialand, in
the present day Bayelsa State of Nigeria in 1956 changed the political and
economic dynamics of the Niger Delta, Nigeria, the oil companies, and their home
countries (Daily Times of Nigeria. November 3, 2003). This shows that the ethnic
groups in the region were very tolerant of Nigeria and the oil companies doing
business in their backyards for more than thirty years without any major
incident. The United States, Britain, Italy, France, Holland etc. must persuade
their friend, President Olusegun Obasanjo, through serious diplomatic efforts,
to change the way business is done in the region.
Strategic Significance: The Niger Delta is strategically important to the
United States, Britain, France, Holland, Italy and other industrialized
countries since it can serve as an alternative source of petroleum in the event
of a major military conflict in the Middle East and terrorism. In short, the
Niger Delta is an excellent area to engage in oil business activity due to a
number of factors. The indigenes are very tolerant, as far as they are treated
fairly. They share some aspects of Western political and cultural ideals due to
British colonization. The traditional religious system is not ideologically
opposed to Christianity or other religions for that matter. A sizable number of
the population of the region has converted to Christianity. They believe in
using negotiations to resolve conflict. They are growth oriented and are willing
to adopt workable political and economic formulas to advance the development of
the region and Nigeria. These aspirations are not contradictory to Western
political, cultural and business interests. Consequently, Western nations that
have oil companies doing business in the Niger Delta need to recognize these
great strengths and work to strengthen ties by persuading their companies and
Nigeria to pay a closer attention to the concerns of the residents of the
f. Security Considerations. It is
very essential that the Niger Delta remains stable for oil and gas production
since the Middle East is tumultuous. Western nations, led by the United States,
has been making efforts to establish alternative source of petroleum. Part of
the plan involves developing the African, particularly West African oil reserves
so that if the Middle East were to become too difficult to do business, a
reliable oil source can be found in Africa. It is inferable that strategic
considerations led the US to provide naval boats to Nigeria in an effort to
update the country's naval capability in patrolling the coastal waters. It can
also be said that the same reason probably led the US to diplomatically propose
the stationing of US troops in the Niger Delta, in an effort to stabilize the
region for major oil exploration.
While the fall back plan is highly
welcomed, the effort to stabilize the West African region, particularly the
Niger Delta of Nigeria, should not be focused entirely on the security aspects
of the situation. A holistic approach is needed to eradicate the endemic
political and economic problems that have bedecked the region. Military security
without an accompanying political and economic reforms in the relationship
between the indigenes of the region, Nigeria and the oil companies would not
result in any form of security for the oil companies. The reason being that the
region has been neglected and deprived for too long and the people are very
angry at their exploitation and marginalization by both Nigeria and the oil
The assertion that military security alone will not guarantee
security for the oil companies to do business is not an exaggeration. The
fighting between the Ijaws, the Itsekiris, and Nigerian security forces during
March and April 2003 clearly showed that when the ethnic groups in the region
are pushed to fight, they could disrupt oil and gas operations considerably.
During the Warri wars, as the fighting has subsequently been characterized, oil
operations were reduced about 40% around the Western Niger Delta. Chevron and
Shell and other companies had to evacuate while the fighting raged on. The
efforts by the Nigerian Navy and the Army to stop the fighting did not succeed,
hence, the oil companies had to wait until various groups negotiated the
cessation of hostilities in a political manner. If the Niger Delta were to
seriously deteriorate, resulting in armed conflict, no amount of military
security would guarantee a safe business environment for any oil company in the
Moreover, if the Niger Delta were engaged in a protracted
hostility, involving ethnic fighters and the Nigerian armed forces, the impact
would affect all the oil producing regions of West Africa. The reason being that
the conditions that apply to the Niger Delta also apply to other countries,
including Sao Tome, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Angola etc. Basically,
throughout the aforementioned countries, the indigenes of the regions in which
oil is found are the most deprived and marginalized. For example, Paul Lashmar
(2003, May 1) reported "Equatorial Guinea has become a major gas producer in the
past 10 years, yet the 500,000-strong population remains in poverty." A BBC
reporter, Justin Pearce (2002, October 27). Noted "The oil wealth that comes out
of Cabinda represents more than 100.000 dollars each year for each resident of
the province. A psychological hunger is when your house has a view of an oil
rig, and you still battle to feed your family each day." Some months ago, there
was a military coup in Sao Tome due to dissatisfaction by some military
officers. The coup plotters gave up after Nigeria intervened to persuade them to
hand over power back to an elected government. In the Republic of the Cameroon,
the degree of political and economic dissatisfaction is very high. The Southern
ethnic groups, particularly the Anglophones, are tired of being marginalized by
the French-speaking political power-wielders.
The possibility is not far
fetched, after all. In other mineral-producing regions of Africa and elsewhere,
civil wars have been raging for years over the issue of revenue allocation
concerning natural resources. The people of Southern Sudan have been fighting
against political and economic marginalization by the Sudanese government for
over twenty years. The Democratic Republic of the Congo degenerated beyond
control about three years ago as various ethnic groups scrambled to get a piece
of the pie, politically and economically. Over three million people have died in
the DRC. The West cannot afford to allow the Niger Delta to degenerate. To do so
would defeat the Western effort to build an alternative source of oil and gas.
f. Environmental Concerns: Gas flaring results in global warming.
Global warming affects all regions of the world, not only the Niger Delta. It is
amazing that before any company engages in any business activity, particularly,
the laying of a pipeline that is likely to alter the environment in the United
Kingdom, about "17 different environmental surveys are required to be done
before construction is allowed (The Ogoni Saga). In the Niger Delta of Nigeria,
the oil companies barely conduct any environmental assessment before engaging in
any exploratory activity. The poisoning and the degradation of the environment
add fuel to the anger of the people.
First, the above discussion clearly
show that the Niger Delta is treated as an economic colony. Secondly, it shows
that there is no regard for the political, economic, and environmental rights of
the citizens of the Niger Delta. Thirdly, it shows that Western multinational
companies have no regard for democracy, freedom, justice, and human rights. They
prefer to do business with corrupt and authoritarian leaders. Fourthly, as far
as the relationship between the indigenes of the region and the oil companies
are perceived to be exploitative, there will always be conflict involving the
people, Nigeria and the oil companies. Fifth, the present situation can be
easily altered by a change of policy and attitude on the part of Nigerian
leaders, western oil companies, and western nations.
Thus, despite the
current exploitative relationships and bitter experiences, it is not too late to
reverse cause and initiate a positive relationships between the various
stakeholders. The reason being that the Niger Delta is strategically important
to the political and economic spheres of Nigeria, the West, and the world in
general. It is necessary to stabilize the region through an agreeable formula
acceptable to the people of the region. This is critical if Nigeria is to play
its role in the stabilization of West Africa. Moreover, the region also provides
a safer alternative to the Middle East and has extensive oil and gas reserves
for the markets in the West and Japan. The Western nations must recognize the
strategic importance of stabilizing the region by encouraging Western oil
companies and Nigerian power-wielders to change their colonizing and
This being the case, it is imperative that Western nations pursue
the following goals, options, actions:
(1) Pay more attention to the
issues affecting the Niger Delta. It is no longer sufficient for them to deal
with the region solely through the Nigerian government. The federal government
has failed repeatedly to live up to its responsibilities.
the fact that the multinational companies are sources of conflict and the
Western governments have a moral responsibility to supervise their conduct, even
though they are private businesses.
(3) Become proactively engaged in
compelling the multinational oil companies to change their corruptible,
exploitative, destabilizing, intimidating, brutalizing, and destructive business
(4) Use their diplomatic and economic leverage to persuade
Nigerian power-wielders to become politically engaged without using military
means to solve problems in the Niger Delta.
(5) Persuade President
Obasanjo to treat the indigenes of the Niger Delta justly by instituting a just
and acceptable financial and developmental compensation.
the oil companies to institute an affirmative action plan. The plan should
include the following requirements: (a) that a certain percentage of their
workforce come directly from the region, (b) that a certain percentage of their
incomes must be reinvested in the region through infrastructural and
institutional development, (c) the provision of skill-building educational and
training programs, medical facilities, and community development, (d) payment of
a certain percentage of land rights directly to the communities in which they
explore for oil and gas and (e) a proactive community relations
(7) The US, Britain, Holland, France, Italy etc. should treat
the Niger Delta as a Special Development Region and thereby institute
development assistance programs. In other words, agencies like the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID) should institute International
Development Partnership (IDP) programs to facilitate development of the region.
The USAID can work with the American oil companies, and non-governmental bodies
in Nigeria to devise developmental strategies for the region. Britain, France,
Holland etc. should also create their own assistance programs. This is intended
to stabilize the region so that mutually rewarding relationships can be
established between the people and the oil companies, as well as between the
people and the Western nations.
(8) The US should encourage the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish cooperative partnerships with
Nigeria, the Niger Delta States, higher educational institutions in the US and
Nigeria, and non-governmental agencies in the region to institute an effective
environmental policy, research studies, and cleaning mechanisms.
Western governments should endeavor to make their foreign policy goals more
compatible with their often-stated ideals of democracy, freedom, justice, and
human rights. If the United States, and Britain, for example, are strongly
committed to the democratization of the world and would take the practical means
to do so, as in Iraq, then they cannot ignore the Niger Delta, Equatorial
Guinea, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Southern Sudan, the Aceh
region of Indonesia. This is necessary to establish stability not only in the
Niger Delta but also throughout the world.
10. Western nations should
join forces with the United Nations to draft an international law which makes
the illegal transfers of embezzled money by political leaders and high
government officials illegal. It should be noted that embezzlement is a major
source of poverty in the world. Poverty increases the need for people to act
militantly against their perceived oppressors. Generally, not only in Nigeria
but elsewhere, money from natural resources are looted by political and military
11.Western nations should join forces with non-governmental
organizations, the indigenous peoples of the world and the United Nations to
draft and pass an international law which obligates that multinational companies
pay equitably, based on negotiations, for their business activities in
indigenous territories, be it in the Niger Delta or in Aceh or in Yine
territory. The law should make it possible to charge, arrest, and try any chief
executive officer (CEO) for violation of the law.
These actions are
necessary if peace and stability are to be established in the Niger Delta.
Prevention is better than cure. As a result, it is time for Western nations that
have oil companies in Nigeria to understand the situation and assist in
resolving the problems, instead of remaining quiet. If Western leaders and
citizens are truly committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom, justice, and
human rights, then let these ideals be materialized in the Niger Delta. The
indigenes of the Niger Delta are tired of their colonial status and want the
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