Whether Shell wants to hear this or not, the spate of friction between oil companies and their host communities in the Niger Delta region was created, or rather instituted, by Shell’s dishonest and opaque dealings with the governments and people of the Niger Delta operational areas.
It is disheartening that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, seemed not to have learnt a single lessons in its self-inflicted misfortunes in the oil-rich Niger Delta area. How come that not nearly enough is being done by Shell to polish or rather mend its tattered perception by the people of the Delta? Does anybody need to tell Shell that its grandstanding and self-glorification to a people and a region it has so battered could be provocative and may further worsen its woes in the area?
Whether Shell wants to hear this or not, the spate of friction between oil companies and their host communities in the Niger Delta region was created, or rather instituted, by Shell’s dishonest and opaque dealings with the governments and people of the Niger Delta operational areas. Go and check this out! And it is curious that Shell is yet to come to the reality that its brand is widely perceived as toxic by most if not all indigenes of the area.
What is the essence of the ongoing covert campaign of dangling mind-blowing fictitious figures as its contributions to the federal government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)? How come Shell now organizes crocodile-smiling stakeholders’ meeting all over the place to throw around figures of the billions of dollars it paid to both the federal government and NDDC? Is it actually to inform the people of the Niger Delta or incite them again against the federal government and NDDC?
First it was the 2017 Swamp West Hub Integrated Stakeholders Engagement Forum for Tarakiri/Egbema/Oporoma Community Leadership in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. This was followed by another forum titled ‘EA Hub Integrated Stakeholders Engagement Forum for Iduwini/Mien/Kou/Bassan-West Cluster Community.’
Earlier in Port Harcourt, Igo Weli, Shell’s General Manager, External Relations, while reacting to the recent shut-down of SPDC flow station and gas plant by angry youths of Belema community in Rivers State, did not spare any discretion in reeling out outlandish statistics solely contrived to blackmail the federal government and the NDDC and incite the angry youths against the government and the Niger Delta development interventionist agency.
At the peak of the Belema community crisis, Shell was quick to disclose that it paid $31 billion to the Nigerian government as its contributions between 2002 and 2016.
Recently at the 2017 Swamp West Hub Integrated Stakeholders Engagement Forum for Tarakiri/Egbema/Oporoma Community Leadership in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Weli, represented by the Assets Manager, Swamp West Hub, Mesh Maichibi, told the local people that Shell and its Joint Venture (JV) partners contributed $29 billion to the Nigerian government between 2012 and 2016 in addition to another $1.8 billion paid into the coffers of the Niger Delta Development Company (NDDC) funds within the same period for the development of the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta region.
Mischievously, the company was quick to remind Nigerians that, “We also know that we have NDDC and the NDDC was set up to develop basically the Niger Delta and the Federal Government has come up with a law where all the oil companies must pay certain amount to the NDDC for them to use in development. As a company, as a joint venture partner, we have contributed $1.8bn into NDDC’s fund within the period. And the expectation is that this fund will be used for the development of our communities’ socio-development, roads, bridges and all of that. That is part of the joint venture development that we have. Despite these huge contributions both to the development of our host region and the national economy, we have had situations where our facilities were shut down.”
Is that what the angry youths in Belema or Bayelsa want to hear from Shell? If you paid $29 billion to the federal government and $1.8 billion to the NDDC, how does that concern Belema community that has continued to live in abject poverty, neglect and environmental devastation for decades since Shell started oil exploration and exploitation in the area? Has it bothered Shell that the only spots you can see fickles of civilization (electricity, clean water, good sanitary systems, etc.) are around the company’s facilities in the same Belema community? Can Shell point to any tangible and functional Community Social Responsibilities Services/projects in the entire Belema up to Kula area?
Is the man in Tarakiri, Egbema, and Oporoma communities in Bayelsa interested in how much Shell paid to government/NDDC or in the company doing even the little basic things to improve the quality of life in those communities that host its operations?
Do we need anybody to tell us that not only does the Shell’s statistics appear bizarre but may have been contrived to hoodwink Nigerians particularly the people of the oil host communities. Even a novice can decipher outright inconsistencies and half truths if not blatant lies which make these claims by Shell’s Igo Weli contentious, absurd, and misleading. Weli should go and cross-check what the former Managing Director of Shell, Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, said in December 2010 and see if what he is now saying jives with what was said earlier.
It is vexing for Shell to correlate its contributions to the development of the Niger Delta vis-a-vis the NDDC not minding that the Anglo-Dutch oil giant is a major culprit in the unsustainable and wicked exploitation of the oil and gas resources of the Niger Delta with its attendant devastation of the means of livelihoods of the people of the region.
Agreed that the Federal Government through its NDDC has mismanaged, even out rightly embezzled funds earmarked for the development of the region, is it in Shell’s position to incite the people against their government? Has Shell done any better with the implementation of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the same Niger Delta?
Shell should know that we know that these figures they are dangling are peanuts compared to the huge profits the company declares annually from short-changing our people and destroying our environment.
As Shell has resolved to dangle figures of what it paid to the federal government and the NDDC, we want also to know how much the company fleeced from the region within the same period under review. How much did Shell make from its operations in the Niger Delta including near and deep offshore? If we know, then we can work out what percentage of their entire earnings is $29 billion in four years.
Shell being smart by half dangled $29 billion and $1.8 billion as monies paid in the last four years to the federal government and NDDC respectively. We will want to know if the amount to the NDDC was exactly all that Shell was obligated to pay to the escrow account between 2012 and 2016 or if it’s a fraction of it. Since the NDDC came into existence and oil producing companies were obligated by the Act establishing the agency to pay certain percentage of their annual budget into the escrow for the development of the region, has Shell been paying up as at when due or there are still backlogs of unpaid arrears by the company? We need all these facts to help us ascertain whether Shell has done what Napoleon could not do by paying $1.8 billion to the NDDC in four years.
Also, Shell did not tell us whether the $29 billion it claimed to have paid to the federal government was for taxes, royalties, rents or government’s share of the return on investments by the joint venture.
If Shell’s top management is not complicit in this grand scam to delude (un)suspecting stakeholders, then it follows that they are complacent and/or incompetent as it appears they are being led by their noses by unscrupulous subordinates.
Is Weli and those that sent him on this mission of mischief not aware that the company’s entire operational areas are littered with outrightly unsustainable and poorly implemented community projects that could not be rationalized when juxtaposed against the project cost, location, impact, objectives etc?
The earlier SPDC recognizes and realizes that they can no longer hoodwink anybody in their operational areas by obfuscating issues and come clean in their dealings with all stakeholders the better it will be for them and their future in the Niger Delta. Running to offshore arena would not save them from paying the wages of their sins against the people. God bless the Niger Delta!sah