25 October 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The underdevelopment of petroleum host communities in the Niger Delta region has been blamed on the neglect and sharp practices by oil and gas firms operating in the region.
A university teacher, Prof. Nekabari Nna, who made the assertion while speaking at a one-day security seminar in Bori organised by the Association of Retired Senior Military and Paramilitary Officers from Ogoni in Rivers State, stated that oil firms were more concerned about commercial interest than the development of their host communities.
Nna who is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science and Administrative Studies, University of Port Harcourt, speaking on the theme, ‘Contemporary Security Challenges and Socio-Economic Development of Ogoniland, said the growing insecurity in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta were a product of underdevelopment.
The professor of political science explained that the people of Ogoni and the Niger Delta, in general, have lost their natural sense of existence and livelihood to the unguarded activities of oil firms, which are primarily concerned about commercial interest than the development of their host communities.
He said that such self-serving policies on the part of oil firms operating in the Niger Delta undermine the tenets of international best practices and the Millennium Development Goals.
According to him, “the operation of oil multinational corporations flare gases and spill crude oil that degrades our environment, and in this regard threaten our right to clean air, clean water, and sustainable livelihood, thus creating security risks.
“The militarization of the Niger Delta, led to capital economic flight, with companies relocating from the region because of security threats, such as the kidnapping of company staff and disruption of oil exploration activities. The consequences of these actions is the deepening poverty and underdevelopment of the Niger Delta.”
The university teacher further stated that Ogoniland played host to the Shell Petroleum Development Company for decades, but have nothing to show in terms of corporate social responsibilities from the company, except the pollution of their natural environments.
He called on all Ogoni stakeholders to work collectively towards addressing the prevalent security challenges in the area.
“I urged the oil companies to ensure that they enter into social contracts with their host communities, and make their policies to conform with the Millennium Development Goals, especially on poverty eradication, universal basic education, and environmental sustainability,” he said.