What is the role of big oil companies in the Third World? What can be done to get governance, transparency and prudential leadership on the agenda? To what degree does Nigeria seek economic growth and to what degree does it pursue environmental values?
The development of Corporate Social Responsibility has had disastrous consequences for Nigeria. CSR was developed mainly as an off-shoot of Public Relations in the oil industry in order to make employees and shareholders feel better about business practices. Perhaps is has worked too well. Nigerians now expect oil companies to play a developmental role. The Nigerian government joins in calls for this because it relieves itself of its own responsibilities. The net result is that people lose faith in their own government and expect private companies to improve their lives, which doesn't work.
Energy is the basis for industrial development, be it in agriculture, transportation or electricity and we live in an era dominated by oil. Nigeria is rich in this natural resource, but instead of using it as a catalyst for development the country has experienced less government accountability, a collapse in non-mineral tax revenue and the emergence of dependency mentality. Nowhere is this more extreme than in the Niger Delta.
Nigeria has had a lower level economic growth rate than its neighbours without oil reserves. Lower growth is the result of the ‘Dutch Disease’, where “large inflows of foreign exchange make exports of agricultural and manufacturing goods more expensive”, according to Frynas (2005).
People no longer believe that their democracy is capable of changing their lives for the better. Many locals think that oil companies should ‘fill in the gap’ where the government falls short (Shell now builds community centres, schools and hospitals, and provides micro-credit schemes and youth employment programmes). This idea, known as corporate social responsibility, has led to disastrous consequences....