It has been a surprise to some for Nigeria not to have featured as strongly as South Africa, Egypt and Kenya in the Wikileaks revelations. However, some have always believed that controversies revolving around the extraction and management of Nigeria’s oil resources coupled with civil unrest and environmental degradation was fodder for the sort of diplomatic ding dong that Wikileaks has uncovered.
WikiLeaks cable ABUJA 001907 alleges that Shell has inserted staff in Nigeria’s Ministeries to gather intelligence and to get close to political power brokers. This cable perhaps helps explain why oil spills in Africa and more specifically in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria are taken less seriously. The conduct of Shell in the cable also puts the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nigerian environmentalist, into perspective, an execution that Shell has always denied it “contributed” to.
The spectre of neo-colonialism through corporations and the tacit approval of thier governments is well and truely alive. Critical analysis of why Africa is poor should not be limited to the stereotypical corrupt African leader. That corrupt African leader, we must bear in mind is quite clearly in cahoot with corrupt elements far away from the geographical boundaries of Africa. Corrupt elements that are quick to prescribe how African nations should be run and yet slow to recognise thier own fallibility in thier dealings with Africa.
Perhaps now the 70% or so Nigerians who still live below the poverty line despite thier country making billions of dollars every year out of oil extraction can begin to find some answers as to why they still lag behind every major oil producing country and the extent to which Africa’s oil and other resources are still controlled by others 50 years after most African countries gained independence.
View US Embassy Cable ABUJA 001907 - Royal Dutch Shell infiltrates the Nigerian govt.
The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians’ every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The company’s top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew “everything that was being done in those ministries”. She boasted that the Nigerian government had “forgotten” about the extent of Shell’s infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.
The WikiLeaks disclosure was today seized on by campaigners as evidence of Shell’s vice-like grip on the country’s oil wealth. “Shell and the government of Nigeria are two sides of the same coin,” said Celestine AkpoBari, programme officer for Social Action Nigeria.
“Shell is everywhere. They have an eye and an ear in every ministry of Nigeria. They have people on the payroll in every community, which is why they get away with everything. They are more powerful than the Nigerian government.”