OGONILAND: WHO IS TO BLAME?

It was the late 1950s when the British colony of the South Protectorate of the Nigeria was booming with potential following the discovery of petroleum in the region. To harness this potential, in 1958, the Royal Dutch Shell Company began operations promising to stand by its company values, mission and vision in Ogoniland.

Ogoniland, Rivers State, Nigeria has a population of approximately 500,000 people living in area of 650km2, resulting in a nucleated settlement. The Ogoni people found their living by fishing and farming, however their lifestyle would have been under threat by oil exploration. When Shell began its operations, the indigenes of Ogoniland had no control or say in the use of their lands, at the end they were left with lands devastated by oil-related activities. Almost sixty years on, the debate rages on as to who the blame falls to, Shell or The Nigerian Government?

The Case Against Shell

One of the four mission statements of the Royal Dutch Shell Company states that the company believes in:

“Conducting our business in a safe, environmentally sustainable and economically optimum manner”.

The company also prides itself that its core values comprises of “honesty, integrity and respect for people”. The statements made have held true if the company had not been inactive and careless when it came to coexist with and protect the Ogoni people of Nigeria.

On the arrival of Shell, the people of Ogoniland must have been ecstatic at the news. Their chiefs and rulers impressed by Shell’s standings in the global market, their willingness to conduct business in a sustainable manner and the promise of infrastructural development. This was a chance for a rural community to partake in the economic boom the country was about to receive. However, a few years down the line such dreams and aspirations couldn’t be further from reality.

Environmental issues began to crop up ranging from oils spills to devastating gas flaring, the Ogoni people were living in a nightmare showcased as a dream by Shell. Their lifestyle was being threatened as their lands were stripped of their environmental resources and people who were already living on less than US$1 per day were faced with more poverty, health issues and civil unrest. At this point the Ogoni people must have been wondering what was going on.

One of the reasons was that, as the first company in oil exploration in Nigeria, regulations were moulded in Shell’s favour such that it was more profitable and indulged in their wrongdoings. For example, the ineffective and vague gas utilisation plan stated in Section 51 of the 1969 Petroleum Act which justified their gas flaring in Ogoni. With focus purely on financial gain, civil relations between Shell and The Ogoni people had deteriorated completely. Civil unrest escalated as the chiefs and rulers were shown “respect” by Shell as they lived lavish lives and used their financial clout to oppress their own people.

To absolve themselves of any wrongdoing, Shell continually stated that they had paid their dues through taxes and levies to the government. Also, stating that they had nothing to do with bribes paid to local rulers to defuse any uprisings. For all the talk of visions and missions, when Shell was required to act they remained silent and when they did act, they pushed blame to the government. Does that showcase the virtues of “honesty, integrity and respect” to the Ogoni people?

“We either win this war to save our land, or we will be exterminated, because we have nowhere to run to”

Above is the rallying cry of the leader of MOSOP (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), Ken Saro-Wiwa. This statement was made during several, peaceful marches to create awareness of Shell’s environmentally unsustainable practices. With the global clamour, Shell, should have intervened, rather doubled it down on its cowardly and greedy stance. From an engineering perspective, it is unethical for shell to have had so many oil spills and to have adopted a care-free attitude to gas-flaring in the first place. As MOSOP’s influence grew, with Shell not intervening and the government restless, The Ogoni nine were executed by hanging in 1995 on allegations of murder, by the Nigerian government to halt MOSOP’s progress.

By then Shell had left Ogoniland but not without leaving behind a legacy as black as the oil they are so proud to produce.

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The Case Against the Nigerian Government

On the other hand, it is appalling to note that the government failed its core duty to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens. The government had rather gone against this core responsibility, by using security forces to incite violence in what was intended to be non-violent protests by MOSOP.

A law was enacted by the government in 1979 stating that every natural resource within the country is owned by the federal government, and revenues generated will be equally distributed within all the states. However, history highlights that down the line this was not the case but for a few people; the government officials. They were the only ones enriched, while the people of Ogonliand, where the oil was drilled, were impoverished.

In 1990, per the ‘Bill of rights’ sent to former Military Head of State General Ibrahim Babangida and the Armed Forces Ruling Council, the people of Ogoniland demanded a payment of about $20billion for the petroleum oil drilled from their state and the damages caused by pollution over 30 years. If the government was being paid about $11million a day, is it still Shells responsibility to ensure the welfare of the occupants of Ogoni? the answer is quite obvious, no.

There was no contractual agreement between Shell and the people of Ogoniland, rather Shells legal relationship was with the government. Shell is a profit oriented business, which had obeyed the rules and regulations by paying the government taxes, royalties, levies, and oil spill penalties, leaving it with no obligations towards the Ogoni community. It is therefore solely the government’s responsibility to meet the demands in the ‘Bill of rights’, which they clearly not interested in. Based on this attitude, the government’s integrity should be questioned.

The oil export makes up about 80% of the Nigeria’s revenue. When Shell halted their production in Ogoni, one of the revenue stream of the corrupt government officials involved had been lost. Following their success with Shell, the influence of MOSOP was growing and this intimidated the Nigerian Government. The government, being anxious, looked for an opportunity to put an end to MOSOP. With the death of four Ogoni chiefs who were publicly against MOSOP, the government took the opportunity to have their pound of flesh. Hence nine MOSOP leaders were arrested and sentenced to death.

The situation made way for policies called ‘wasting operations’ in which the military raided Ogoni villages killing hundreds and displacing thousands from their homes. The government also fabricated stories, relating the killings to ethnic clashes, while in reality it was the armed forces. This was a strategy implemented by the government to instigate fear among the people. This is unethical, as it violates human right.

Group 67: Naomi Babalola, Ayodele Ogunye, Mohammad Afifi, Oweikeme Cole 

 

 

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44 thoughts on “OGONILAND: WHO IS TO BLAME?

  1. The fact that shell as an engineering company failed to up hold there values will carrying out there operations is a clear sign that they were ethically flawed.

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    1. I feel that most companies would always be greedy just because they a profit driven so i dont really expect mich from them. I feel that it is mainly the goverment fualt because they are meant to be looking out for the people best intrest even if no one else is.

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  2. I think that as a multinational cooperation, shell has failed in some way or form to live up to their social cooperate responsibilities, this however isn’t always against the law. You must blame the Nigerian governent for not exercising their legislative power for whatever reason.

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  3. I agree with Ayo and believe the both parties have a part to play in this. They both allowed the love of money stop them from upholding their core values, which is a shame.

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  4. I think they are all to blame…
    -Shell because they didn’t fulfill their pledge on the mission statement.
    -The Government because they are meant to govern and bring law and order in the country but instead they left the situation to get that bad.
    – the local rulers because they should have spoken up and also not just truth the shell industry, all because they wanted to join the economic boom 💥 they let them distroy their land(greed)

    Nb: there should have taken them to court not doing a debate, what will that do???
    It is a collective crime… corruption!!!

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    1. I totally agree with you, it is a collective crime.
      One would except that as a huge multinational, Shell will uphold and operate based on her core values of honesty, integrity and respect but clearly that wasn’t the case here as she sought to “settle” local rulers instead and create unrest and cause more poverty and hardship amongst the people of Ogoni. Allowing corruption to take over instead.
      The government also didn’t care one bit about the people and it is such a shame that they would rather enrich themselves than simply do what is right.
      The local rulers followed the path of the government and chose to be against their own people forgetting that they will all suffer the effects of the oil spillage and gas flaring.
      The case of Ogoniland is indeed a pitiable one.

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    2. I agree with you, not just the government and shell alone, even the people are to be blamed. I had d opportunity to live with d Ogoni people and I think they themselves are to be blamed. instead of tabling out there problems and get basic infrastructures from the government and big companies like Shell they will rather kill there selves to get money from the company and just squander it. There traditional rulers live luxurious lives but the homes, schools, roads are nothing to write home about. If the youths of Ogoni wants to succeed they should drop there guns and pick up pens and papers, dialog with the government and the so called oil companies. it shouldn’t be about let us have our own national cake but in what way will our people be benefitting.

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      1. Hayzed, by your input it’s clear you don’t understand the Ogoni issue. True that in recent times the youths armed by state and local politicians with national connections have been involved in cultist and violent activities leading to death—a trend that is common all over Nigeria. Such activities doesn’t imply the people haven’t been doing their best to try resolving the issue with the government and oil companies. In the first place the government and oil companies’ wickedness caused hardship, poverty and suffering in the area therefore open up young people to whatever may come their way that they think could help them meet their needs. You’d agree if aware that Ogonis started their struggle in 1990 (August), when they wrote their bill of rights popularly called Ogoni Bill of Rights (OBR) expressing their problems, especially how the artificial emergence of Nigeria, which didn’t exist until 1914 when the Southern and Northern protectorates under British colonial rule were amalgamated to serve British economic and political interest. Then the non-precolonial Nigeria became a formal country on October 1, 1960 when it purportedly gained self-determination or independence from British colonial masters. Long story short, Ogonis in their bill of rights outlined their pains and how badly devastated they became under Nigeria. They pointed to the fact that under British rule they’d their internal self- determination or self-rule in 1947, having been illegally and unlawfully invaded, fought and many of them killed by the British army, which eventually conquered the people with multiple re-enforcement between 1903 and 1905, then last fight in 1913, a year before the illegal birth of Nigeria via amalgamation in 1914. in the OBR Ogonis boldly complained about the unholy alliance between $hell Oil and the Nigerian government, the military dictatorships in particular. Such conspiracy wrecked both economic, environmental and health havoc on the people. Although their oil was extracted royalties and rents meant for them as landlords were denied them by the government usually controlled by Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo oligarchs or cabal. Therefore, the bill of rights made clear the people’s desire to remain in Nigeria, but only as respected and equally treated component of the country. In nutshell, the bill demanded the control of Ogoni’s political and economic affairs by Ogoni people as common in the country through state creation that is mostly on ethnic basis. The bill also demanded the development of Ogoni culture and languages and the protection of Ogoni environment from further degradation alongside environmental justice. The government and oil companies were duly served the document and reply expected. Nothing came back as clear reply from a government respectfully written by one of its peoples except acknowledgement of receipt from the Ibrahim Babangida’s military dictatorship then. $hell also requested for a so-called shopping list from Ogonis and when sent nothing was heard from the company but plots with the government to harass, embarrass and unlawfully arrest and jail Ken Saro-Wiwa, who created the new Ogoni consciousness and Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). The end result was the unjust hanging of Saro-Wiwa on Nov. 10, 1995 by Abacha with the blessing or approval of $hell and other conspirators, as a way of teaching others who may demand their fundamental rights to be respected and treated fairly and justly a bitter lesson. To make Saro-Wiwa’s death look genuine or authentic 8 other Ogonis who had no leadership position in MOSOP except Mr. John Kpuinen who was a National Youth Council of Ogoni People’s (NYCOP) Coordinator of Gokana kingdom had to be killed alongside. These Ogonis were randomly arrested during the military occupation of Ogoni. They’re unlawfully tried and sentenced to death thus killed with him. Unfortunately for the government and Nigeria to date, no sound case of murder as was alleged was proven in a free and open court of competent jurisdiction against them. You may understand why a military tribunal was used to try an alleged murder case—a predetermined decision to kill Saro-Wiwa, the leader and mobilizer of the movement who the government and oil companies feared, was reached and handed the tribunal before it commenced sitting which denied defendants due process of and equal protection under the law. Since these state and corporate hangings Ogonis haven’t relented despite government and $hell’s concerted efforts to induce the people and break the ranks so as to render the movement discredited and toothless. As such what else should Ogonis do; shouldn’t Nigeria be bold enough to object to $hell’s discriminatory policies and do right by Ogonis; isn’t it the duty of government to set rules and regulations governing oil and other businesses then implement them to the fullest; why did government refuse to hold the oil companies accountable if not a partner in crime and also involved in a joint venture business; why should the so-called Federal government use bad law to steal lands with oil claiming it owns them when it doesn’t and such laws doesn’t apply to land without oil? Meanwhile, why should nine Ogonis die by hanging just because Saro-Wiwa led the people to demand their right to control their affairs by means of a state or other measures or special arrangement that will allow the people manage their own affairs like the Hausa-Fulanis, Yorubas, Igbos, Ibibios, Ijaws and others who are enjoying their right to self-determination also known as self-rule or self-government through internal state arrangement; are these people more human or ethnic than Ogoni. If the government wasn’t greedy, selfish and wicked to allow $hell, a foreign company, NNPC own by Nigerian government, other oil companies to cheat its people and pollute their land to the point of near extinction, and the right things were done to respect Ogonis and grant them their rights and development alongside capacity building that should empower the youth, women and men these issues wouldn’t arise. The youths would mostly be in school or working, or getting themselves engaged one way or the other despite real-life situation that suggests youths and people would still act bad yet checked even where there is development and empowerment as obvious in developed nations such as USA, UK among many. This is the summary of the Ogoni case showing they’ve done all they’d to persuade and negotiate peace and development with government and $hell, other polluters and exploiters but have been repeatedly deceived and abandoned because they resist further extraction of their oil without environmental clean-up, reasonable development and conceding to them their right to control their own affairs like others in the country.

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  5. I like that the situation was addressed from both the perspective of the government as well as Shell because usually, Nigerians are quick to blame Shell without acknowledging the fact that the Nigerian government has a hand in the struggle of the people of the Niger Delta as a whole.

    We can really see the negative effect of the Nigerian government when we consider the fact that when BP had an oil spillage, it paid heavily because the systems were in place to ensure the company was held accountable; systems that Nigeria generally lacks and where they exist, are not advanced enough.

    The government should embrace the responsibility of caring for its citizens and creating functioning systems that aid in the improvement of lives and the enhance the accountability of foreign companies.

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  6. At this stage, blaming the government or the business is counterproductive. It’s the policy of greed, the race for the oil and globalisation that are to blame. It’s a pool of interrelated negative factors that causes this disastrous results. The only way out is to raise awareness on an international scale.

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  7. I think it is quite obvious that the Nigerian government is to blame, they made way for the above stated atrocities to happen. If they wanted it to stop they could’ve done something about it, but apparently the Nigerian government has been corrupt way before now, they place carting away public funds into their pockets ahead of the welfare of their people. Indeed Shell compromised their values, they were negligent and without any doubt caused the misfortune of the people of the Ogoni land. But who allowed their misdids?

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  8. I think both shell and d govt are to blame, but more of the blame goes to the govt for letting shell do whatever they wanted and not protecting the ogoni people. But it’s the Nigerian govt so it’s nothing new. Greed has always ruled our political leaders. Sad but true.
    As for shell they are to blame for taking advantage of the naivety of the people and also their trust. But then again it’s what most humans do to get what they want.

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  9. I think they are both to blame but it’s tragic how the government has kept up this lack of protection and empathy till date and how companies still show no ethical concerns..

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  10. The government should be held solely responsible for the oil spillage getting as bad as it did while Shell in its self should never have allowed an oil spillage occur.

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  11. Personally, I believe the government is to blame since they did not carry out their duties to the community and instead enjoyed lavish lifestyles. When shell left the government was intimidated by MOSOP and instead of resolving the matter the government decided to raise fear amongst those who protested, hence making the matter worse.

    If the government fullfilled their duties to the community and repaired the oil spills as soon as they were discovered, no one would have protested.

    The government is solely to blame as it was in their hands to resolve the issue and they let the problem worsen and the consequences were devastating for the people who were not even involved.

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  12. Indeed I would Blame Shell
    Why ? Because since the company have stated their mission and core values, then they should work with that no matter what. In the argument against the Nigerian Government, they said that Shell paid for all of the oil spills and damages they caused, but that’s not right, especially that the damage is not collateral or small. But in destroyed the soil for the Ogoni people and increased poverty. It was their mission to operate in integrity and with respect to people.
    I am not saying that the Nigerian Government is not to blame, yes it will, it is corruption, but Shell helped in increasing the corruption and poverty in the country with their way of conducting business.

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  13. The government is solely to blame as it did not fulfill it’s duties towards the people of Ogoniland, by not fixing the oil leaks and gas flares as soon as they were discovered and instead enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with the funds provided by shell.

    If you take a second and really think about it, if the government just fixed the problems when they arose there would be no protests from MOSOP and hence all the other consequences could be avoided.

    The government was very greedy.

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  14. It is absolutely unethical from both parties but if one is to be blamed, it would be the government. If shell pays its penalties, taxes, etc., it is the governments responsibility to fix the pipes. Like you have mentioned the governments core resposibilty is to protect the human rights, the government has accepted financial benefits instead and ignored the spillage.

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  15. It is shell’s responsibility in the first place because the oil spillage has resulted from broken pipes. Shell should have used materials resistant to breaking or even cracking to avoid the leakage. It is unethical of shell to accept the use of such poor standards of pipes.

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  16. This is a well written and informative article.

    As per the case study, it is quite evident that both parties, Shell and the Nigerian government, played parts in impoverishing Ogoniland. However, the lead role was played by the Nigerian government​ as it allowed Shell to act inappropriately.

    No one allows guests to remain in his/her home if they behave unwholesomly. Unless, of course, there is something to gain.

    The government’s corruption was probably the sole reason for the unrest and impoverishment in the region.

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  17. This is a well written and informative article.

    As per the case study, it is quite evident that both parties, Shell and the Nigerian government, played parts in impoverishing Ogoniland. However, the lead role was played by the Nigerian government​ as it allowed Shell to act inappropriately.

    No one allows guests to remain in his/her home if they behave unwholesomly. Unless, of course, there is something to gain.

    The government’s corruption was probably the sole reason for the unrest and impoverishment in the region.

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  18. This is a well written and informative article.

    As per the case study, it is quite evident that both parties, Shell and the Nigerian government, played parts in impoverishing Ogoniland. However, the lead role was played by the Nigerian government​ as it allowed Shell to act inappropriately.

    No one allows guests to remain in his/her home if they behave unwholesomly. Unless, of course, there is something to gain.

    The government’s corruption was probably the sole reason for the unrest and impoverishment of the region.

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  19. I don’t think Shell should solely take all the blame……. the government and the local rulers should even go with a larger portion of the blame and i seriously doubt that When Shell began its operations, the indigenes of Ogoniland had no control or say in the use of their lands, that can’t be true. Their Leaders should be consulted as regards to this claim, INFACT Shell should not go with any blame. The people should blame the Government and our Local rulers!!!! SPDC works hand in hand with them and if shell is going against their terms and condition then the government and the community leaders should have done something about it, that is if they don’t have any hidden agenda.

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  20. I believe the corrupt government and the executives of shell petroleum development company are to blame cause they drilled and didn’t do the necessary cleanup exercise after drilling and they even went as far as not developing the host community

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  21. Global laws should be in place to manage the activities of international companies and firms. They should be held responsible for their activities regardless of the legality of these activities in corrupt countries. If these global laws are in place, they should be strictly enforced and faulting companies severely punished. An example is the case of companies that bought blood diamonds from warlords in Sierra Leone during its civil war.

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  22. If am to say the truth……Shell shouldnt be held responsble for destroying the land of of the Ogoni people but the government of Nigeria.Shell has done its part already by paying what it was meant to pay to the government….now the government should be held responsible for the well being of people within the community.
    Only in Nigeria you see people expected to settle communities for the effective running of ur business within the community or else….you would be forced to stop.
    Thats a Total Bullshit

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  23. Having taken glossary look at this article, my submission is that Shell and the Nigerian Government are to blame for the impoverished state of Ogoni land. On the one part, Shell company that has stated expressly that they will drill the oil in an environmentally and sustainable way and will also respect the citizens of the host community has totally reneged, which has lead to the massive low standard of living in ogoni land. On the other part, the adamant nature of the Nigerian government towards the protection of the life’s and properties of the host communities ( Ogoni Land) as against the Shell company has also played a crucial role in the improvrished state of ogoni land. There should be an amendment of Section (1) of the Petroleum Act in other to allow the host communities to have a voice over the natural resources in their land. The Government should also create institutions to checkmate the drilling operation in the host communities.

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  24. If am to say they ‘re all to be blame equally_ Shell:Altho there was no contractual agreement between shell and the Ogoni people it was between shell and the government. With the company believes:There willingness to conduct business is sustainable and they promised the Ogoni people of infrastructural development in their community which made the people convinced and they believed in their words.Shell would have kept on that back then in the 190’s promises ‘re meant to be accomplished not to be broken altho in our jet age promises ain’t kept any longer…Shell ‘re meant to be blame because they gave the Ogoni people high hopes and because of their carelessness the Ogoni people suffered environmental issues which began to crop up from ranging oil spill to devastating gas in the commuinty. OGONI PEOPLE : This people were full of greed to partake in economic boom of the country they didnt consider about the future outcome…they didn’t seek for advice from different people before making the decision they also had the human right to say no ….but they accepted heart fully. ..because of their decision they suffered oil spill all around their community they lost there loved ones fighting for their right when the mistake has been done. …they would have given it a proper thought before making a decision. NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT :The lead role was played by the government …they had contractual agreement with Shell …they should be held responsible for the damages it has caused lives .Government failed its core duty to protect the fundamental rights of its citizen.it was in their hands to resolve their issues when they find out about the oil spillage ..they would have done the repairs to avoid the riots and the killings ..they left the problem to extend to something bigger.Their courruption were sole reason for the OGONI land.

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  25. Both shell and nigerian government failed the Ogoni people. But I think the government should be blamed completely. This is because they would have made the shell company to redeem their promises. They would have supported the Ogoni people in one way or the other to make shell pay off their promises. For the government to keep quiet, based on what is happening here in Nigeria. is possible the shell company has pay off or given d government what is meant for Ogoni land. Shell also would have fulfilled the promise for d fact that Ogoni people allowed them in. They should try and have small conscience and fulfil at least one promise

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  26. Interesting read and from this I feel both parties are liars. Shell needed a playground and found it in Ogoni land Nigeria.

    I feel both parties were aware of factors likely to arise during oil exploration. Therefore I would be blaming the Nigerian government.

    If the government was not dodgy after understanding the effects of oil exploration the people of Ogoni land were suppose to have been looked after even before Shell began operations.

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  27. From a neutral standpoint, I’d say the government is to blame. Shell is obviously more profit oriented above other things, so as long as these oil spill penalties were paid on time to the government (as agreed in contract), they had done their due diligence. Most large industrial-based corporations of the world leave terrifyingly huge amounts of destruction in their wake; they only get better at covering up their tracks – with money.

    The Nigerian government on the other hand has failed to protect the Ogoni people by consciously allowing an appalling degradation of their land, and consequently, their way of life. As with everything else, they fail(ed) to see the bigger picture – which is preserving the fundamental human rights of its people, no matter the cost.

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  28. Both parties are to be blamed.
    The Federal Govt. for their ineffectiveness to protect the rights of their citizens due to corruption and Royal Dutch Shell for their unethical work approach in Ogoni.. Too many oil spills yet nothing was practically done about it. Their operations left the community socially devastated yet they weren’t bothered about it. It is just so appalling and disheartening that a company like shell acted this way even with their wealth of experience.

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  29. In my opinion, I will blame government for not regulating Shell operations with in standard environmental protection policy of Nigeria.

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  30. Shell is to blame for Ogoniland trouble. It should have taken care of the environment in which it operates or operated because without a conducive atmosphere business cannot fly. Shell believes that awarding contracts to a few individual and taking care of so-called community leaders was enough to make the area none-restive. For example, there will be light and night live in Shell flowstation, teminal or camp and the houses of a community leader while the rest of the surrounding was gross darkness was a major aberration. This was a wrong approach to community relationship. In addition, Shell thinks that payment of taxes are its only responsibility while it is the duty of government to develop the oil producing area. But I think Shell should have put extra effort in developing Ogoniland and making whatever expenditure incurred tax deductible. The alleged involvement of Shell in the Ogoni five and Saro Wiwa saga and its role with government further aggravated the people of Ogoniland. This is an ignoble attitude if it is true.

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  31. As far as am concern both parties share the blame more importantly the Nigeria government, they undermined the long term benefits in favour of use of force…in history use of force has never proved to be a permanent solution to unrest. Lastly, if the ogonis has considered their welfare they would have by now strike a deal with the government for rapid development of the kingdom. The Ogonis though seating on their wealth, they cannot tap into it while the government continues to survive without Ogoni crude oil…so who is loosing ???

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  32. I wish to contribute with the following points:
    1. Much more is desired from International Oil Companies (IOCs) because of their global know-how and superior experience in hydrocarbon exploration and production. Such should have been put to use for the benefit of the local communities and governments in developing countries like Nigeria from the 1950s. Had this (Ubuntu) Social Performance ethos been adopted, gas flaring and environmental degradation from hydrocarbon operations would have been better addressed much earlier. On this however, Shell performed the same or better than the other IOCs in Nigeria.
    2. The ‘Responsibility’ appellation to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), is not helpful, as it has contributed to societal docility in pressuring government to deliver on good governance rather than permit, if not encourage, governments’ abdication of its role, whilst demanding of Shell and the other IOCs to deliver on social amenities, education, employment, and nearly everything else.
    3. On the execution of the Ogoni-9 and the Ken Saro Wiwa-led MOSOP agitation, the reader is encouraged to refer to (then) Rev. Fr. Mathew Hassan Kukah’s “Witness to Justice” for a balanced view.
    4. Ethnic marginalisation: Ogonis like other ethnic groups in the Niger Delta have been dealt with unfairly. (Others may not yet have had the reach and eloquence of Ken Saro Wiwa).
    5. My recent survey shows that Ogonis have a relatively high percentage of educated and intelligent people. This advantage should be put to good use to change the Ogoni narrative and embark on constructive engagement given Nigeria’s current constitutional construct.
    6. In my view, the two most important factor analytical contributors are (a) good governance and (b) resource control by communities.

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  33. In a country where the government doesn’t care for its people, it’s easy to be controlled by greed. Both Shell and the Nigerian government are to blame. It’s as easy as that. On the basis that shell is getting what it wants from the country, the Ogoni kingdom in particular and the government is benefiting from the ruins. If the government had taken a stronger stand, and not allowed themselves to be ruled by their own interests then it would not have been this horrendous.

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  34. Though Shell is culpable, I will hold the Nigerian government accountable for not having the political will power to enforce the laws and regulations. There are a few related environmental laws and regulations in the oil and gas sector. Notable among which is the 1988 FEPA Act. Under the 1988 FEPA Act, penalties and enforcement mechanisms are imposed, multinational oil companies could be held liable for costs of clean-up, restoration and multinational oil companies could pay compensation to parties affected by the discharge in such harmful quantities of any hazardous substance into the air or upon the land and the waters of Nigeria or at the adjoining shorelines, except where such discharge is permitted or authorised under any law in force in Nigeria. But, the government needs to do more in ensuring enforcement. The polluter must pay! The good news is that Nigerian government has finally started the clean-up of Ogoniland after years of inaction.

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  35. Wale Biya.

    ALL SHOULD SHARE THE BLAME.

    The write-up by Naomi and her group in my view is balanced and fair enough.
    I will however attempt to highlight what I consider should have been the roles of the major actors (i.e. Shell, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) and the Ogoni people) in the whole episode.
    First, Shell. The company (Shell) from the beginning did not seem to have respect for the Ogoni people from whose land exploration and production activities were being carried out. This attitude (which some regarded as pride) was also noticeable in most places the company carried out its business in Nigeria especially in the early years. A little part of the company’s profit should have been devoted to the development of the areas in which the company was doing its business (corporate social responsibility); this would have endeared the company to the natives, thereby getting the loyalty and friendliness of the host communities. They tried to do this later but it was too late, the damage had been done and the mistrust and acrimony between the company and the host communities had become deep.
    Next, the Government (FGN). The FGN in my view is the greatest culprit in all of this. Sometimes the laws guiding exploration and production activities were not robust enough especially at the initial stage of the oil and gas business in Nigeria and even where the laws were robust, the political will to ensure compliance was absent even when the technical personnel employed by Government to enforce these laws tried to do what was right. The result was that the companies (not only Shell) did what was convenient for them by way of compliance. Yes, Shell could have paid all the necessary taxes and levies it was expected to pay by law to Government and it can rightly be argued that the company didn’t come to Nigeria for charity but for business. So, having fulfilled its obligations to Government, it is expected that Government would use part of these revenue to address the environmental and infrastructural challenges of the areas from where the revenue has been derived. However, corruption, impunity and poor leadership at all levels have been our lot in Nigeria since independence till the moment. This has led the Ogoni land and many other areas underdeveloped or totally undeveloped at all. It is the same reason why there is infrastructural decay everywhere in the country such that a population of about 170-180 million people will have to be struggling to share 3,000-4,000 megawatts per day of electricity in 2017; a quantum of electricity that cannot even power a University or a Terminal of an Airport in developed countries. This is in spite of several billion of dollars purportedly pumped into generating electricity in the last 10 years or so. Our leaders represent everything that is bad in human beings.
    Finally, the Ogoni people. I think the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) started well by sensitizing their people and the outside world to the environmental degradation of their areas occasioned by Shell’s exploration and production activities. However, they seemed to have played into Government’s hand by killing four of their chiefs who didn’t support the struggle; I do not think that was a wise and proper thing to do on the part of MOSOP leadership. Since this was supposed to be a collective fight aimed at ensuring a better environment in their areas, explaining to and persuading those Ogoni chiefs and others who, at that time, didn’t seem to agree with the struggle would have been a better option. Killing the four Ogoni chiefs provided an opportunity for the Government (a Military one at that time and headed by a ruthless dictator), to desperately move against the MOSOP leaders and eventually killed them. The Ogoni people were ultimately the losers here because it was a case of “a house divided against itself NOT being able to stand”. If the Ogoni people were themselves united in their course of action, may be the story might have been different today.

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