bypassing the Nigerian government, oil company Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (spdcnl) has decided to fund human development activities in the country through direct partnership with the un Development Programme (undp). Ironically, it is the oil exploration activities undertaken by companies like Shell that sparked rebellion in the Niger delta.
The Shell-undp memorandum of understanding (mou) aims to undertake development projects worth at least us $18 million over a period of five years, beginning 2004, "to advance the human development agenda in the Niger Delta ecosystem". Shell would contribute us $14 million and the rest would come from undp. The Nigerian federal government will not be directly responsible for the implementation and oversight of these projects. This not only impinges on the sovereignty of the nation, but also abdicates it of its responsibility to govern its people. According to the mou, however, the programme would be undertaken with the government's agreement. The government could influence it through its representative on a management committee, which would be formed to provide strategic guidance and oversee the programme's implementation. The programme's management would be the undp's responsibility. On the request of civil society groups, a monitoring and advisory committee comprising local and international civil society organisations would also be constituted.
On September 27, 2004, the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, a rebel group, issued a warning, asking foreigners to leave the delta. The rebels call the delta Ijawland, after the indigenous Ijaw people, who constitute the majority population on the delta. The Shell-undp mou had apparently made no difference. The group's leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, charged Royal Dutch Shell, spdcnl's parent organisation and Nigeria's largest oil supplier, and an Italian company with collaborating with the Nigerian state in "acts of genocide". The group, however, vowed not to damage oil infrastructure, as it did not want to pollute the environment. It initially declared an "all-out war on the Nigerian state" from October 1, 2004, but reached a truce with it before the offensive could start.
We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. You can further help us by making a donation. This will mean a lot for our ability to bring you news, perspectives and analysis from the ground so that we can make change together.