Nigeria And The Multinationals’ Intention: Oil Interest Or Social Influence?

President Yar’Adua is now pursuing diplomatic means to persuade the Europeans and other industrialized nations to help shoulder the remaining strategy to provoke justice and the peacekeeping process. Rather than going hat in hand to the Europeans, the Yar’Adua administration should simply cancel the region’s production sharing accruing debts owed to France, Germany, Russia, and other nations’ multinational corporations. After all, the debts were incurred by a government that no longer exists and at a time when the companies were boycotting the Niger Delta due to restiveness. These other nations were effectively undermining our national security by effectively undermining that boycott

Burning crude oil itself is of limited use. To extract the maximum value from crude, it first needs to be refined into petroleum products. The best-known of these is gasoline, or petrol. However, there are many other products that can be obtained when a barrel of crude oil is refined. These include liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), naphtha, kerosene, gas oil and fuel oil. Other useful products which are not fuels can also be manufactured by refining crude oil, such as lubricants and asphalt (used in paving roads). A range of sub-items like perfumes and insecticides are also ultimately derived from crude oil.

Furthermore, several of the products listed above which are derived from crude oil, such as naphtha, gasoil, LPG and ethane, can themselves be used as inputs or feedstocks in the production of petrochemicals. There are more than 4,000 different petrochemical products, but those which are considered as basic products include ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, ammonia and methanol. The main groups of petrochemical end-products are plastics, synthetic fibres, synthetic rubbers, detergents and chemical fertilisers.

Considering the vast number of products that are derived from it, crude oil is a very versatile substance. Life as we know it today would be extremely difficult without crude oil and its by-products. If there was any doubt that the ability to control crude oil prices had passed from the United States to OPEC it was removed during the Arab Oil Embargo. The extreme sensitivity of prices to supply shortages became all too apparent when prices increased 400 percent in six short months.

From 1974 to 1978 world crude oil prices was relatively flat ranging from $12.21 per barrel to $13.55 per barrel. When adjusted for inflation the price over that period of time world oil prices were in a period of moderate decline.
Events in Iran and Iraq led to another round of crude oil price increases in 1979 and 1980. The Iranian revolution resulted in the loss of 2 to 2.5 million barrels per day of oil production between November, 1978 and June, 1979. At one point production almost halted.

While the Iranian revolution was the proximate cause of what would be the highest prices in post-world war II history, its impact on prices would have been limited and of relatively short duration had it not been for subsequent events. Shortly after the revolution production was up to 4 million barrels per day. Iran weakened by the revolution was invaded by Iraq in September, 1980. By November the combined production of both countries was only a million barrels per day and 6.5 million barrels per day less than a year before. As a consequence worldwide crude oil production was 10 percent lower than in 1979.

The influence of Multinational Corporations in the Niger Delta area is becoming an increasingly pertinent element of international security and development. MNCs factor into the equation of contemporary civil war by representing economic vehicles that allow domestic actors to realize value from local assets through the global marketplace. The Niger Delta is no exception to this dynamic. MNCs exploiting oil resources in the country were seen as representing a further complication in an already long-standing and devastating region between the Government and the Ijaw militants. However, while the impact of MNCs has been well documented, there exists little knowledge concerning the factors that guide the strategic behaviours of these enterprises

The influence of human rights complicity allegations by international NGOs altered the composition of the oil industries in the Niger Delta area. The oil companies can’t pretend they don’t know what’s happening all around them. The Nigerian government obviously has the primary responsibility to stop human rights abuse. But the oil companies are directly benefiting from these crude attempts to suppress dissent, and that means they have a duty to try and stop it.

In one particularly serious incident on January 4,1999 soldiers using a Chevron helicopter and Chevron boats attacked villagers in two small communities in Delta State, Opia and Ikenyan, killing at least four people and burning most of the villages to the ground. More than fifty people are still missing. Chevron has alleged to a committee of survivors of the attack that this was a “counterattack” resulting from a confrontation between local youths and soldiers posted to a Chevron drilling rig. Community members deny that any such confrontation took place. In any event, the soldiers’ response was clearly disproportionate and excessive. The oil companies and the new government should commit to taking a new approach in the region, one that is based on zero tolerance for human rights abuse by the police and military.

Recently, both Shell and the government admitted that Shell contributes to the funding of the military in the Delta region. Under the auspices of “protecting” Shell from peaceful demonstrators in the village of Umeuchem (10 miles from Ogoni), the police killed 80 people, destroyed houses and vital crops in 1990. Shell conceded it twice paid the military for going to specific villages. Although it disputes that the purpose of these excursions was to quiet dissent, each of the military missions paid for by Shell resulted in Ogoni fatalities. The two incidents are a 1993 peaceful demonstration against the destruction of farmland to build pipelines and, later that year, a demonstration in the village of Korokoro. Shell has also admitted purchasing weapons for the police force that guard its facilities, and there is growing suspicion that Shell funds a much greater portion of the military than previously admitted. In 1994, the military sent permanent security forces into Ogoniland, occupying the once peaceful land. This Rivers State Internal Security Task Force is suspected in the murders of 2000 people. In a classified memo, its leader described his plans for “psychological tactics of displacement/wasting” and stated that “Shell operations are still impossible unless ruthless military operations are undertaken.” Since the Task Force occupied Ogoniland in 1994, the Ogoni have lived under constant surveillance and threats of violence. The Nigerian military stepped up its presence in Ogoniland in January of 1997 and again in 1998 before the annual Ogoni Day celebrations.

According to local people, the cause way initially had no passages for water to pass underneath, blocking the drainage channel. They were poorly constructed or designed, trees and other vegetation over a wide area dies from water logging and seasonal fishing grounds have been destroyed, causing substantial economic damage to those whose lands are affected. The culverts cut, young people drowned by the turbulence caused by the draining of lakes that develop. Farmers in Obite, Omoku, River State, in the Obagi/Omoku oil field operated by Elf/Agip, also complained of flooding.

Gas flaring in Nigeria, it is noted that Nigeria flares more gas than any country in the world: Due to the low efficiency of many of the flares much of the gas is released as methane(which has high warning potential),rather than carbon-dioxide. At the same time, the low-lying Niger delta is particularly vulnerable to the potential effects of sea level rising. Other problem of gas flaring are that air, leaf and soil temperatures are increasing up to over eight or hundred meters from the stack, and species composition of vegetation is also affected. The most noticeable generally unremarked effect of the oil producing region , the night sky is lit up by flares, that in the rainy season, reflect luridly from cloud, it is also noticed that nautical animals are disturbed by this light, and leave the area, making hunting difficult. All these are done without recognising Nigerian government on gas flaring since they can buy their way by imperialistic policies against 3rd world countries, without minding the environmental effect of the habitant of the area. The destruction of crops, artificial fishpond use for fish farming (Economically valuable trees, including those growing wild but owned by particular families),and other income generating assets. Even a small leak can thus wipe out a year food supply for a family, with it wiping out income from products sold for cash. The consequences of such loss of livelihood range from children missing their school fees, to virtual destitution. Above all, the multinational also falsely claim sabotage to most of the oil spill, to prosecution of local people who cried to the environmental degradation, and this people are charged of offence liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life or death penalty.

Shell has engaged in the use of paramilitary to attack the oil producing communities just to subdue them, and continue their environmental damages for their economic interest. Chevron Nigeria gave out its helicopters and boats to Nigeria military to crack down civil populace of the oil.

Peaceful demonstration against oil exploration in Nigeria, hundreds of people is being killed by soldiers. The multinationals have left their original purpose of earning income and are involved in human rights abuse. Dumez (Nigeria) Limited, a road construction company employs security forces to attack villagers and is destroying newly planted crops of local farmers without paying compensation for crops or carrying out any environment impact assessment (EIA). Julius Berger, a German construction company in Nigeria is not left out in this case. They left their original mission and are involved in sales of arms and money laundering and other illegal businesses, which run down the Nigerian economy.

The national states are the medium and guarantor for the implementation of the needs of the multinational concerns, the imperialist state of the multinationals. The influence exercised by the monopolist fractions of capital on the processes of the strategic decisions, as made by the political elites. And therefore undermine the development and security of citizens. The case of multinationals in Nigeria is full of sad stories. Instead of development, better life and economic growth, we saw underdevelopment, environmental degradation and human rights violations.

Written by
L.Chinedu Arizona-Ogwu
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