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OIL EXPLOITATION AND CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA
Oil exploration activities commenced in the Deltaic region of Nigeria in the early 1900s by a Germany entity referred to as the “Nigeria Bitumen Corporation” which started her exploratory activities in the Araromi area of the then Western Nigeria but their activities were truncated by the out break of the World War I in 1914 (NNPC: 2005; 1-2). Oil exploration activities thereafter started with the Shell D’Arcy (the forerunner of Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC of Nigeria) in 1937 when Shell was awarded the sole concessionary rights covering the whole territory of Nigeria. Their activities were also interrupted by the World War II but they resumed in 1947 and with concerted efforts, after several years and investment of over N30 million, the first commercial oil well was discovered in 1956 at Oloibiri in present Ogbia Local Government of Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region. This discovery opened up the oil industry in 1961 in Nigeria, bringing more oil firms like the Agip, Mobil, Safrap (now Elf), Texaco and Cheveron to petroleum prospecting both in on shore/offshore areas of Nigeria (Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC; 2005:1-2).
From then, “oil production rose from initial figures of 5,100 barrels per day (bpd) from the first well in Oloibiri to today’s production of over 25 million bpd, even though our OPEC quota specification is based on 2.15 million bpd” (Okaba, 2008:8). Between 1956 and 1958, more oil fields were discovered at Afam, Bonu, Ebubu and Later Ugheli and Kokori and the production capacity steadily rised. By this period, oil has become so prominent that the search for more of it had intensified in various communities in the region.
Ironically, this was the genesis of the series of problems which have bedeviled the region in recent times. According to Premo (2005:16):
World attention shifted to the Niger Delta as oil rigs, wells and exploration activities eroded the territory, the initial excitement that greeted the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in the modest community of Oloibiri, soon died down. Exploration came with exploitation and like early colonialists into Africa; the western oil companies noticed the euphoria of the rural populace. For a little carrot of a ferry terminal or jetty, millions of dollars worth of oil was taken from their land. And then one day, the people woke-up to the reality that rather than peace and joy, the black gold had brought sorrows and tears to their land……….. Their dreams died in their strides. There could be more poor people in the region than there are in the remotest part of Koma, a primitive society in Adamawa State.
The emergence of oil industry did not only undermine the Agricultural sector which was the mainstay of the local economy and create serious environmental hazards for the people through exploration, exploitation and transportation of oil and gas; it equally created serious value problem as the hitherto cherished traditional value – system were weakened by the emergence of the petro-dollar related behaviour.
The Niger Delta region of Nigeria richly endowed with both renewable and non-renewable natural resources. It contains 20 billion of Africa’s proven 66 billion barrels of oil reserves and more than 3 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves. Oil and gas resources account for over 85% of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP), over 95% of the national budget and over 80% of the nation’s wealth. A. A. Akinbuwa (2008)
Paradoxically, the Niger Delta remains the poorest region as earlier stated, due to the ecologically unfriendly exploitation of oil and gas and state policies that expropriate the indigenous people of the Niger Delta, of their rights to these natural resources.
Ecological devastation, which is occasioned by the activities of multinational oil companies (MNOCs) have rendered useless farming and fishing, which was previously the mainstay of the Niger Delta rural populace. The Niger Delta environment is not developed to further sustain the people after the destruction of the ecosystem that had kept the people together. The height of it is that the environmental degradation continuously occur through oil exploration activities such as gas flaring, oil spills, canalization to oil fields, seismic explosives detonation etc. thereby creating artificial challenges to development but the region is not considered for holistic development, rather the concepts of wider, national and internal power struggle to control meager funds for the development of the Niger Delta are always been politicized. Hence, the areas remain in dire need for development.
It is the dynamics of this interconnectedness and probable solutions to the problems causing the challenges of development despite the huge oil revenue from the area; that we intend to explore in the course of this research.
However, for practical purposes, the Niger Delta area is defined as an embodiment of the area enveloped by the natural Delta of the River Niger and the areas to the East and West that also produce oil. The natural boundaries of the region can be defined by it hydrology and geology. Its approximate Northern limits are located close to the divide into two of the River Niger at Aboh, while the West and Eastern bounds are located at the Benin River and Imo River respectively (UNDP, 2006:19).
In terms of component states, there is always a polemic in which states actually constitute the deltaic region referred to as the Niger Delta. As a result, reference is made of periphery and core states. A trace of the region thoroughly obviously indicate that states along the deltaic region are Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers State, hence, these three constitute the core Niger Delta states while considering the introduction of certain political and administrative motives in the definition of Niger Delta, has culminated to the inclusion of six (6) more states namely; Abia, Akwa Ibom, Cross-River, Edo, Imo and Ondo States.
Looking at the map of Niger Delta, following its definition encompassment of the nine (9) states structure, it appears like a jigsaw shown the nine (9) states situated in the Southern part of Nigeria with a boundary to the south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the east by Cameroon. The region covers a land mass of about 75, 000 square kilometers and it accommodates about 30 million Nigerians belonging to about 40 different ethnic groups with almost 250 languages and dialects.
The ecology of the Niger Delta tolerates myriad species of terrestrial and aquatic plants and animals and human beings. The region posses a division of four (4) ecological zones viz: Costal inland zone, Mangrove swamp zone, Fresh water zone and Low level rain forest zone. It is considered the most tremendous wet land in the African continent and among the three (3) largest in the world. The Niger Delta region is consist of rivers, creeks, estuaries or seas and the area accumulatively measures up to 2, 370 square kilometers, while stagnant swamps covers up to 8, 600 square kilometers.
As a matter of facts, this research will be focused on the real “deltaic” zones of the Niger Delta where the real challenges of development are prominent in order to properly assess and harness “oil exploitation and challenges of development in the Niger Delta.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Oil exploitation and exploration which has its root in the Niger Delta was celebrated February, 2008 as fifty (50) years of oil exploitation in Nigeria. In spite of wealth generation by oil exploration and exploitation, opinions of observers on the performance of the oil production sector especially its developmental relation with oil host region/communities has not been impressive. Nigeria’s former two times petroleum minister and former president of OPEC, Rilwan Lukman describes oil production in
Nigeria as “a blessing and curse (Aiyetan 2008:30). Similarly Shamudeem Usman, Nigeria’s former minister of finance observed that Nigeria remains poor in spite of being rich with oil (Tell, 2008: 32).
Actually, some persons and companies have benefited enormously from the proceeds of the Nigerian oil while some communities and millions of people from the source of oil “The Niger Delta” have been underdeveloped, longneglected and impoverished. The people of the Niger Delta are faced with problems as a result of the oil exploitation. The region in expectation of positive societal benefits, ironically seems to be the least developed despite the fact that the nation depends solely on its wealth. The Niger Delta oil exploitation story is clearly synonymous to the aphorism that goes thus:
The hen lays the golden eggs but not fed allowed to be in hunger perpetually.
The people of Niger Delta while facing the challenges of development on their environment are simultaneously taking into cognizance the impact of oil exploration on the environmental degradation of the land and the economy as well as socio-political well-being of the people of the host communities; hence the situation has caused the inhabitants of oil areas physical, emotional, psychological and counter value frustrations as a result of the Federal government’s deliberate policies and structure that causes human suffering, death, harm, deprivation, exclusion and oppression; a situation that leads to the extermination of the people’s cultural norms and practices that creates discrimination, injustice and human suffering. This systematic alienation of the federal government and Multi-National Oil Companies (MNOCs) finally culminated to frustration-worries-Anger and to violence.
As a result of the negativity recorded in human, capital and infrastructural development of the Niger-Delta and particularly oil host communities in the region, the inhabitants of the Niger Delta seeing the wealth from their area being extracted without benefits have resorted to taking matters into their hands; kidnapping oil workers, pipe-line vandalisation, militancy/insurgency, inter/intra communities civil strife among other deviant social vices have become the order of the day. It is in the light of the above intricacies that the researcher intends to focus attention on the following research questions:
1. Is there any link between oil exploitation in the Niger Delta Region and growing poverty level in the oil bearing communities?
2. Has oil prospecting improve infrastructural facilities in the Niger Delta Region?
3. Has the crises situation in the Niger Delta Region reduced the oil producing capacity of Nigeria?
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The broad objective of this research is to investigate oil exploitation and challenges of development in the Niger Delta region.
However the specific objectives are two fold.
1. To systematically investigate if there is any relationship between crude oil exploration and the poverty level of oil bearing communities.
2. To critically examine whether oil proceeds had not improved
infrastructural needs of the Niger Delta and the effects of crises on oil production in Nigeria.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
We firmly believe that the findings of this study shall be of immeasurable value to the oil host communities, the Niger Delta region, oil companies, state governments in the Niger Delta and the Federal government.
The study shall expose certain shortcomings in our approach as students/researchers to tackle the Niger Delta question in the Nigerian Federation. Multi-national oil companies (MNOCs) and government shall through the result of this research rededicate their efforts to the morality issues of why the Niger Delta region requires aggressive development.
Equally significant is that subsequent researchers will find results of the project useful particularly in the fields of social sciences and crises management oriented topics.
The research will equally serve the task of filling a gap in existing literature and ultimately add to knowledge because the work is not devoid of the academic tradition of knowledge built on existing knowledge. Therefore, researchers/scholars in this era of western capitalist economy with its major tenets of globalization, market forces and liberalization of trade, the MNCs are on the offensive in both the extractive and manufacturing sectors all over the world. The agents and the states propagating these ideas refer to it as social relations.
This research work will reveal the hidden character which is causing instability in a region which is poverty stricken in the midst of plenty, the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, an environment responsible for the economic boom which the Nigerian government has enjoyed for decades but nothing to show in the region.
Finally, for practicality, the research will serve as a means to understanding the intrigues in oil production that metamorphosed to underdevelopment and crises in the Niger Delta Region. Hence, the tasks of solving the crises and possible enhancement of socio-economic development and unity of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole is achievable via application of moral standard to oil exploitation as cited in this study.
1.5 LITERATURE REVIEW
The core variables of the research which are oil exploitation and challenges of development in the Niger Delta region will be the basis for our literature review.
The issue of oil exploitation and challenges of development in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has created a lot of devastating effect on the oil bearing communities otherwise referred to as the (HOST COMMUNITIES). The socio-economic malady has no doubt attracted the attention of many scholars and social workers. However, the two major variables of the research which are: Oil exploitation and Challenges of development in the Niger Delta will be explored then a thorough review of literature will follow.
OIL EXPLORATION AND EXPLOITATION
The oil prospecting and exploitation in the Niger Delta has not only altered people’s livelihoods, but continues to disrupt the natural balance of the region’s earth crust. George (2000) recognizes the methods of oil exploration, namely: Analysis of existing geological and other information; seismic surveys; and exploration drilling; He mentioned that of particular destructive impact of the earth’s make-up is the use of seismic survey.
This method involves the gathering of information through sound waves into the earth’s crust to measure the depth of the rock layers and the use of dynamites and other explosives. The explosives are either detonated in the bowels of the earth through water bodies or dry land. In addition to its direct impact on the aquatic stocks in the area, the after effects or shocks are known to sometimes cover as much a radius of 10 kilometers (Bassey, 2001). The implication of this is that, the more oil is explored in the Niger Delta region using this method, the more the region’s natural environment witness shocks and rifts in its crust.
Development means different thing to different people, depending on their intellectual, ideological beliefs and the issues in question (Obinozie, 1999:157). Thus, it is seen as the process by which people, based on their choices and value create and recreate themselves and their life circumstances to realize higher levels of civilization (1996:125). It also means reduction in the level of poverty, unemployment and inequality (Secre,1975) Another definition of development is that: it is the liquidation of poverty, employment generation and satisfaction of basic needs. (South commission report, 1993:13-14). Development also refers to the efforts and results of transforming the physical and social environments within which human beings operate for the purpose of enhancing their standard of living. (Anikpo 1996:6); another definitions says development means an increase in percapital income, reduction of absolute poverty and equal distribution of income (Meieir, 1970).
Development efforts are connected and it includes those directed at deliberately eliminating obstacles that militate against the desire of individuals and corporate groups to free themselves from all natural and artificial obstacles. They also include the advancement of human capacity to exploit, annex, and utilize the historical, cultural and environmental based resources in order for man to achieve a more fulfilling life. However, resources and capabilities for development are usually not only complex but also in short supply. A high degree of collaboration is always needed. Thus, development partnership is a mechanism for ensuring that the comparative advantages of different actors, share and stakeholders are harmonized in a mutually supportive manner for the benefit of all.
It is an obvious fact that the concept of development is a man – centred process that leads to qualitative improvements in the standard of living. The measurement of development include, advanced infrastructures, enhanced education, training and greater employment opportunities, affordable cost of living, probity and accountability in governance, greater self-reliance especially, stability, affordable food, production, development of technology, improved productivity, sustained political stability, and a healthy population (Onuoha, 1999:71-72).
Therefore, there is no doubt that development addresses a number of objective factors that include conflicts and insecurity. Poverty, unemployment, uneven distribution of income and resources and political instability etc. which are causal factors of conflict, but with development these are tackled.
THE NIGERIAN STATE AND CURSE OF OIL PRODUCTION
Yakubu Gowon former Head of State of Nigeria (July 29th 1966 – July 29th 1970) delivered a key note address at the opening session of the international conference of the Nigeria state, oil industry and the Niger Delta on the 11th March, 2008 in his words:
Specific regulations were not put in place to remedy the Niger Delta and such regulations were to be reviewed from time to time. Efforts were made to develop the oil producing areas. Both Federal and state governments consider such efforts and plans in their government development plans.
Niger Delta is overdue for development. The plans earlier put in place during my administration which would have addressed the problems were not only implemented but totally abandoned to the detriment of the region and nation (Yakubu Gowon, 2008).
Nigeria is the largest exporter of oil in the Sub-Saharan Africa with a production figure of 2.3 million barrels per day (bpd) hence, Nigeria is ranked behind the world’s oil giants: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates. Nigeria’s petroleum revenue averagely accounts for over 85% of the Federal Government’s income and more than 95% of export earning. However, Nigeria at large in the midst of this wealth records an overwhelming high level poverty (with 70% living on less than one dollar a day), 40% lack sanitation and safe water, 82% lack access to regular power supply and 46% predominant infant mortality rate (Okaba, 2005).
Oil exploitation and exploration which recorded its boom in the early 1970s in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region which was a rare opportunity to develop the Niger Delta and Nigeria at large turned to a breeding ground for official squandemenia. For instance, Nigeria hosted the FESTAC 77 so lavishly that Nigeria’s bid to host the next edition declined the offer. This was because the degree of profligacy and portrayed acts of corruption and was after many years ranked amongst the most corrupt four nations of the world (Transparency International 2001:16).
Presently, infrastructure decay is experienced in all sectors of the Nigerian nation – state, education, health, energy, water, road, sports, transport, housing etc. (Tell 2008a: Tell 2008b). Okaba, (2005) states that it is in the midst of this general deterioration of living conditions is the prevalence of a complex circle of state oppression, repression and militarization within and around the oil industry as oil spills and other forms of human environmental abuses result in further accentuation of mass poverty and general insecurity in the Niger Delta Region. It suffices to state that the revolutionary struggles in the Niger Delta region against state led economic exploitation, social exclusion and political marginalization of the Niger Delta which span over five centuries spreading from the era of pre-colonialism.
The Niger Delta region is the lowest ranking region compared to her counterparts in other oil producing regions in the world. Recent analysis of poverty and Human Development Index (HDI), a standard measure of well being encompassing the longevity age, knowledge and decent standard of living qualified in terms of access safe and clean drinking water, quality health and educational services, electricity, roads, gainful employment, political participation etc, painted a very sordid picture of the Niger Delta as the area’s HDI is as low as 0.564 this ranking compared to oil and gas producing regions in Saudi Arabia (0.800), United Arab Emirate (0.846), Kuwait (0.844), Libya (0.67), Venezuela (0.772), and Indonesia (0.670 (Human Development Index Report 2005)
In the same line of argument, Okowa (2005) stated that the long years of oil exploration in the Niger Delta region resulted to long years of resource conflicts, poor local service delivery, economic exploration, social marginalization, infrastructural neglect and worst of all, environmental degradation have transformed the Niger Delta into a zone of frustrated expectations, dashed ambitions and unprecedented restiveness.
In fact, oil exploitation in the Niger Delta is an emergent phenomenon of environmental refugesm resulting from land degradation and decreasing agricultural profitability, oil induced inter/intra communal crisis has driven 60% of youths from the comfort of their traditional homes into the hell of urban shanty settlements in Warri, Port-Harcourt, Yanagoa, Calabar, Eket, etc. leading to unwanted rural – urban migration thereby creating crisis of population explosion in the Urban centres making it unsafe for both the rich and poor.
Destructive and ravaging changes evaded the agrarian lands of the Niger Delta as a result of the oil and gas exploitation activities. Particularly the natural resources base crucial to sustaining independent indigenous livelihood. In most parts of the Niger Delta, lands that were very fertile are no longer productive. The peasants have lost the fertility of their lands to oil exploration. The resultant alienation of the people from their home lands local substance base has intensified effective and inequitable land use practices (Okaba, 2005). As a matter of fact, various attempts by the local people to avenge this economic disarticulation perpetrated by the state and oil companies have always compounded their environmental crisis leading to more devastating pollution and frequent los of valuable lives and property. Similarly, Alowei, (2000) stated that, the economic tragedies of these local oil bearing communities in the Niger Delta are heightened by the non diversification of the rural economy which was predominated by oil, subsistence farming been destroyed by oil exploitation then the local people are also excluded from the oil business or the benefits of the oil business; such as contracts awareness, employment, inadequate or no compensation (Alowei, 2000).
The era of oil exploitation in the Niger Delta has turned the region into reckless human and environment rights abuses and other forms of social injustice and atrocities chiefly perpetuated by the state and oil companies. In addition to the development of armed troops and the use of uncivilized conflicts resolution techniques by those agencies, municipal environmental protection laws and statutes particularly those concerning compensations, reparation and remediation principles are not respected in the Niger Delta. Rather the Petroleum Act and Land use Act, inland water ways Act and other obnoxious legislations have turned the region into a virtual imperial chiefdom only good enough for plunders.
Okaba, (2005a) equally stipulated some social resultant effects of the oil evils to include the emergency of war lords and myriad of armed youth groups, pirates and cult fraternity encouraged by the divide and rule tactics of the oil companies and sustained by the need to gain local control and privilege from the oil companies.
Issues of developmental challenges that culminate to underdevelopment in the Niger Delta also had inputs by key stakeholders selfish pursuits over the years. The key stakeholders in the region have propelled and pursued selfish and almost parallel economic development and social goals. These pursuits are characterized by mutual dispute and disrespect for one another. The emergent rancour and acrimony between the states, trans-National oil companies and oil Host communities have brought negative repercussions to all the parties. Rather than design and implement a mutually profitable and unanimous development plan or agenda, they have by their actions, demonstrated envy and precipitated violent conflicts within themselves. These situations, benefits the state and the oil companies including the chief stakeholders but the oil bearing rural communities are the most venerable victims as every action or inaction taken by the other parties involved in oil exploitation impact negatively on their lives and habitat (Alowei, 2000).
Okaba and Alowei both splendidly articulated why oil production in Nigeria is a mirage; however, they failed to identify or profer valuable remedy to the ugly situation. Not realizing that oil production is core to the oil Host communities and the oil companies operate with the policy of sectionalization of the Host communities. Hence, an holistic inclusion of the Host communities in the oil business would breed a more positive development oriented ideas harnessing of the people of the Niger Delta oil Host communities and the region at large.
Therefore, Host communities participation in oil companies especially forming part of the decision making channel will alleviate the developmental challenges of the Niger Delta people cum address the social maladies that always leads to crippling of the oil production capacity of the Nation.
The above proffered gap entails that oil Host communities which are key to oil exploitation should be considered first amongst equals in the oil exploitation business since our land tenure system for now does not allow proper principle of derivation which would have curbed a lot of the issue of underdevelopment and forestalling of oil production and insurgency in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
THE WRONG NOTION SURRENDERING THE NIGER DELTA OIL PRODUCTION IN NIGERIA
Agbosei, (1999) opined thatNigerian State has demonstrated over the decades that the people and environment of the Niger Delta Region is relevant to the nation as a viable economic reservoir, as she pays lip services to the frequent ecological disasters threatening the people on a seasonal basis. Successive governments in Nigeria termed the Niger Delta region “Difficult terrain” for development as a result of its “Deltaic” nature. This difficult terrain clamour by the Nigerian government encouraged successive leaders to create the challenges of development in the Niger Delta. Imagine, social infrastructures in this region are near absent. In fact, the East/West road that links the three major oil producing states (Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers) is still in a mess. The Nigerian states gets agitated only when oil production is threatened. When cases such as oil blow-out, Hostage taking of foreign oil expatriates, vandalization of pipe lines etc. are reassuredly resolved, then anything else can happen to the people God blessed with the resources but oppressed.
The Trans-National oil and gas prospecting conglomerate have over the years as part of their social responsibility embarked on several programmes of social and economic development in their host communities. This efforts too, have never in reality gone beyond addressing the immediate demands expressed in the people’s agitation for the employment of their youths in the company, provision of pipe-borne water, electricity generation, renovation of schools, hospitals, post office and bridges etc the oil companies justify their below average performance in transforming the fortunes of their host communities by referring to the insincerity of the state that gets the lion share of the oil proceeds. The oil multinationals take advantage of the naivety, lack of political will and corruption of the Nigerian State to breach with impunity most memoranda of understanding (MOU) signed with oil bearing communities. They also violate municipal and international environmental protection laws. Over 82% of crisis between the oil companies and host communities between the years 2003-2005, are traceable to disrespect for MOU by the oil company officials (Okowa, 2005). The story of developmental challenges in the Niger Delta region within have been heard of the Nigerian State is not only interested in social-economic formation and control of State power. Given the obvious and wide social and economic inequality that prevails, “Section II No, 17(1) of the 1999 Constitution which states that, “The State social order is founded on ideals of freedom, equality and justice, and 17(2) which provides that “The independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility, thereto shall be secured and maintained” are noble but essentially not practicable. They are mere constitutional fictions. Hence, developmental challenges in the Niger Delta region had not been addressed with a moral question considering its input to the development of the Nigeria nation.
It is in the light of the above acts of the Nigerian leaders and the MNOCs toward the Niger Delta that Ake (1981) vehemently demonstrated the manner in which control rather than ownership has become a significant variable in a peripheral capital State such as Nigeria. Following a critical performance evaluation of the Nigerian State, particularly after the oil boom (Orugbani, 2002; Efemini, 2002; Okaba, 2003) all described the situation as exploitative, and irresponsible.
The Nigerian State is fundamentally a feudal system. It is true that the British introduced capitalism and liberal democracy in the course of their imperialism. However, the fundamental values remain feudal, social orientation remain feudal and liberal democratic values yet to develop fully. The institution of liberal democracy is therefore, to the extent that it appears to exist, no more than a fraudulent pretence and a defensive front. This is the crux of the matter (Okowa, 1977:56).
Off course, in a feudal system, the feudal lords own “everything”. The oil wealth of the Niger Delta belongs to the feudal lords. This is why Nigerian leaders have the impetuous to loot our resources for their private use. The looting starts at the National level and percolates to the State, Local government and communities. Therefore, in a political system impregnated with feudal orientation, it is normal for our leaders to personalize “everything”, power is personalized and societal resources are also personalized. Those who criticize the personalization of the commonwealth are seen as criminals and deviants. That is why the security agents most harass, not the looters but those who criticize the looting for the latter are obviously social deviants. It is vital to understand the fundamentally feudal orientation of our people in order to appreciate the difficulties involved in the challenges of development in the oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Oil ordinarily should be a blessing to Nigeria in general and the Niger Delta in particular. However, the fundamentally feudal character of the Nigerian State and systemic corruption have ensured that the oil wealth derived largely from the Niger Delta has become a mixed blessing to the country as a whole but an outright curse to the region.
The oil industry had indeed destroyed the fundamental bases for the development of the Niger Delta region. Systemic corruption which is largely funded by oil has damaged the culture of hard work and in general the work ethics of many of the people in the region coupled with the devastated environment.
Governance has more or less lost focus as the key development institution and is now largely seen as an instrument for primitive accumulation by the privileged few (Okowa, 2007).
Nigeria is regarded as a rentier State. One major fall – out of the State rentierism has been that the nation has earned and earns huge oil revenues without production, control and responsibility. Since there has been no relationship between revenues and expenditures on one hand and citizens based taxes, the State has not been liable or responsible to the citizen and has been absolved from the citizenry. Oil has created a large system of patronage, clientelism and corruption. The consequence has been enormous oil based leakages and frittering, which with over N400 billion earned, has kept the nation tottering as one of the most endowed, one of the most corrupt and one of the poorest countries of the world.
The exploitation of oil resources in the Niger Delta by the multinational oil companies (MNOCs) supposed to maintain an equitable relation, sustainable environmental management, respect for human rights, responsive and corporate responsibilities, local participation and promotion of good governance should have ordinarily been the underline trans-national corporate objectives.
Multinational oil companies and host communities relations should also be that of mutual collaboration and support but available literature all points to the constrains; hence making the situation unfriendly and hazardous for host inhabitants.
The scholars Agbose and Okowa did not bring to the fore the force of the contemporary liberal democratic practices which are inevitable; especially today in the Nigerian setting. The liberal democratic practice in line with International Human Rights and parts also cited in our constitution guarantee some inalienable rights to the Nigerian oil Host region to agitate for fair treatment of the oil proceeds in other to develop the region.
Therefore, the era of man attached to the concept of feudalism (as Nigeria in the oil case) is no longer practicable hence, the opt for moral consideration of the oil rich region with special analysis to the oil Host communities who supposed to be the primary focal population in terms of developmental strides with the oil money but denied should be inevitably corrected.
Also significant to note is the fact that oil Host communities lack the basic indices of development such as Roads, water, light, health facilities, employment, educational infrastructures etc. The absence of the aforestated facilities in Host communities contributes enormously to the disruption of oil exploitation activities in the Niger Delta region and when corrected, it will earn the Nigerian State increased productivity in her oil earnings.
Kodjo, 1981, and Akinsinya Obi, 2001 stated that thorough examination of power relations between MNOCs with their host communities and State reveals a heavy slope in favour of the MNOCs. The huge technological and economic resources of the MNOCs is reinforced by political power situated in the joint or syndicate businesses with States that are heavily reliant on resources exploitation and rents. The MNOCs are so asymmetrically powerful and superior that even host States and particularly African oil producing States have been profoundly incapable of effectively regulating and domesticating them.
The power relation of the MNOCs and their host States (Countries) is said to be sophisticated, ruthless, hegemonical, secretive, violent, corrupt, unorthodox, criminalized, opportunistic, greedy, treacherous and exploitative (Watts, 1999; Obi, 2001; Turner 1081). Kodjo 1981 also stated that the MNOCs are said to be less altruistic and humanitarian, egocentric and selfinterested. Similarly, Akinsanya 1984, reiterated that the MNOCs in their exploitative activities, are insensitive and poorly responsive to local and regional dimensions of environmental issues. The MNOCs are said to be hostile to civil society (Warpner, 1996; Makumbe, 1998).
In extreme cases, MNOCs have sometimes forged partnerships with dictorial regimes, compromise State officials and institutions, reinforced and sometimes funded State repression and short-changed States (Ake, 1996).
Relations at the level of the indigenous people or local host, MNOCs are claimed to people or local hosts, MNOCs are claimed to sometimes erect a dislocate, represses, factionalizes, subverts, and orchestrates tensions protests and conflicts (Saro-Wiwa, 1992; Robinson, 1997; Raji and Akinsola, 2000; Human Rights Watch 1999; Frynas 2000; Crow 1995). Obi 2001, claims that MNOCs relations with host communities (HC) is underlined by corruption, divisiveness, co-optation, exploitation, betrayal and subversion which is the case of the Niger Delta, fuel tensions, conflicts and crisis.
Talking about power relations of oil multinationals and Host communities, all the authors attempted to unveil the evil and uncompromising policies of the MNOCs towards the communities and the region at large. But the issue here is that the oil companies feel that the evil syndicate of the MNOCs and the state apparatus as the only partners of the oil business is making them succeed leaving the oil Host region/communities out.
This situation is rather barbaric and it has been one of the reasons why Nigeria could not get to the zenith of oil production because the non inclusion of the Host people rather holistically has caused a lot of uproars, rancour, upheavals, acrimony and destruction of oil installations; thereby cutting short the Nigerian oil production capacity; meaning the lost is been shared by all. That is the MNOCs, the Nigerian states and the Host communities/Niger Delta region. This is because when moral consideration of developing the Niger Delta region and oil Host communities is taking as priority, it will create a mutual co-existence and the propensity for the MNOCs to harness more oil exploration will be guaranteed, then gathering of more profit will be for all that is the MNOCs and Nigeria at large.
OIL EXPLOITATION AND THE ANTAGONISTIC FORCE OF THE MULTINATIONAL OIL COMPANIES
Gidado (1999:21) stated that MNOCs while carrying out the oil exploitation activities, undermine development and real economic growth and cause socio-cultural disarticulation. The MNOCs invest capital, for instance, it is associated with huge out flow of capital through expropriation of profit and is operated in such ways as the creation of enclaves, un-integration into the economy, pillage of natural resources and exploitation of labour that is “antithetical to the host country’s development. The MNOCs have exploited the cheap labour, unequal agreements on resources and cheap raw materials to realize huge profits from developing countries. Hence, the rates of return to multinational company’s investment in the third world are said to be higher (US Department of Commerce, 1981: 27). In this respect, the MNOCs are regarded as “antagonistic or ambivalent force” (Green 1975:100). MNOCs are focussedly concerned with the control, certainty, stability and profit from their investment rather than the local economic welfare and interest; Host communities development or national objective. MNOCs are interested in the monopoly of the lucrative sectors of any economy through huge capital investments and exclusive production agreements. Through this type of investment, indigenous production and control are sole buyers and determine prices of commodities, dominate marketing and determine prices of finished goods across the globe.
The behaviour of multinational companies is notorious and are accused of “overcharging for specific services, inputing un-needed services and personnel into joint venture and production sharing agreements (Green, 1975:109). This type of situation will help to deny the Host communities, region and country the opportunity for developmental strides with social amenities via the production of such multinationals. This is exactly the case with oil exploitation in the Niger Delta.
Multinationals are associated with flouting Host communities, regions and states rules and policies, tax evasion, illicit payments, over-invoicing, abuse transfer pricing, poor records of receipts and exports and expatriate quota abuses. In Chad for example, the government in August 2006, asked Cheveron/Texaco (USA) and Patronas (Malaysia) to quit the country, while also sacking three ministers over allegations of tax defaults and improper tax exemptions (Daily Independent 29/08/2006;3,5). The MNCs, oil companies inclusive, operations and behaviour is said to be predacious, plundering and self-seeking. The attitude of operation and conducts undermine and negate environmental sustainability, health, structural development and nutrition of Hosts states (Irogbe 2005:45). Their sustainable business practices are poor (Moser, 2001:291). That is why oil companies in the Niger Delta region undermine their contributions to sustainable development and socially equitable growth.
Oil companies have played a significant and dominant roles in shaping and reshaping the landscape, economy, politics and socio-cultural life of the oil Host (OH) communities of the Niger Delta (Scoth Pegg, 1999:473-484). He also believes that Trans-national companies have pose security threats to Host local populations and indigenous and minority people in Nigeria, Peru and Colombia. The Trans-Nationals have being involved creating and exacerbating violence against local populations through fundings, supporting and inviting repressive security agencies and operating behind security shields in the face of local resistance. More specifically, in Nigeria. Pegg (1999:479-484) asserts that the multi-national oil companies are “instruments to the Nigerian states violent response to peaceful protests” while their actions have catalytic effects in bringing local populations into confrontation with state security agencies. Beside they, the oil companies have shown “a distinct lack of concern over the violence directed at the oil producing communities. The Niger Delta region after witnessing all these flares of harassments from the MNOCs and Nigerian government, coupled with the embedded developmental challenges, an increasing number of oil Host communities (HC) began to clamour for their rights often through violence (Olukoya, 1995:9). This was as a result of the insensitive and alienating state and the devastation of the environment with no development. The result has been the large scale disruptions; violence and insurrection in the region since the 1990s.
LACK OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND ETHICAL PUBLIC/COMMUNITY RELATIONS IN MNOCS AND OIL EXPLORATION
Oil exploitation in the Niger Delta suppose to undergo the actual tenets of corporate governance because oil companies are corporate outfits. Corporate governance here refers to the ways and means by which a company relates to its staffs, shareholders and stakeholders. It denotes the guiding principles, policies and actual behaviour and practices that underpin the relations within and between the company, its stakeholders and environment. It essentially consist of stakeholders of two capacities. The first group is shareholders, management staff, customers and contractors. The second group is external stakeholders made up of the economic operators, Host communities, other communities and society at large.
The attributes that associate with good corporate governance which the oil companies in the Niger Delta region lack are: growth and development of individuals and groups; observance and compliance with professional standard, rules and regulations; observance of the rule of law; right to sustainable livelihood; undermines national and international conventions; undermines legal and constitutional frameworks, no maintenance of standards and expectations in relation with environment, Host communities and citizens. Further, good corporate governance seeks to institute and further corporate responsibility to the legal, regulatory and ethical frameworks, the economy, environment, stakeholders and the larger society. Iyayi (2000:167-171) has placed the nature of MNOCs relations and strategies as dependent on the nature of the state framework if rules and regulations, the beliefs and assumptions of the MNOCs, the forms of exploitation utilized by the MNOCs and the nature of response by the Host communities (HC). Iyayi stipulates that the corrupt and weak Nigerian state facilitates the compromise and ineffectiveness of legal and regulatory frameworks in the oil industry. The corporate beliefs and assumptions of the MNOCs emphasize profit through efficient production of hydrocarbons and cost reduction. More so, the MNOCs emphasize government at all times and not the people.
Thus, agreement and deals are made with government and once obtained; it becomes a legitimate cover for all sorts of actions and behaviours. In essence, the local people in the Host communities (HCs) interest, livelihood, environment and needs are regarded immaterial and their thoughts and decisions are rendered null and void thereby making them turn frustrated in every endeavour to succeed in the pursuit of their part of the oil wealth located in their backyards. Consequently, MNOCs actions and behaviours are often antagonistic to Host communities (HCs) interests. For instance, the form of MNOC oil exploitation in Nigeria has tended to emphasize extraction and profit rather than environmental protection and minimum damage of the ecosystem.
Iyayi (2000:159-178) depicted strategies of community relations applied by the MNOCs in the Niger Delta that are always crisis driven. These strategies of community relation includes: denial, divide and rule, payment of money to selected few community leaders, silence to requests from HCs, defiance, blaming the victims, promotion
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