In the words of Mark Twain, an American poet and philosopher; “Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel”.
Twain concluded thus: “Man is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it”.
This quote is apt when viewed against the activities of International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating, not only in Rivers State, but in the Niger Delta Region.
Only recently, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, received two foreign envoys on courtesy calls on him in Government House, Port Harcourt.
Receiving the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Mr Jerome Pasquier, Governor Wike expressed dissatisfaction with the empowerment of cultists by IOCs through the provision of surveillance jobs.
The governor disclosed that his administration has decided to review all surveillance jobs given to youths by multinational corporations in the state as part of efforts to unveil those youths behind them.
The concern of the government is that such award of surveillance jobs constitutes empowerment of affected cultists who become so rich to buy sophisticated guns to perpetuate violence in society.
The state chief executive did not mince words when he berated the Federal Government for politicizing security issues, noting that politicizing security by the government at the centre was partly responsible for insecurity in the state.
As if that was not enough, Governor Wike, in a minute, summarized the history of oil exploration, exploitation and nefarious activities of oil multinations when he condemned The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC’s) poor community relations with host communities.
Governor Wike told the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mrs Marion Kappenye Van De-coppello, on courtesy visit, the negative role of SPDC in the state which is in the habit of not carrying out its corporate social responsibilities to host communities.
He was quoted as saying; “I sat in a meeting with Shell, Agip and Total. It was only Shell that refused to implement Memorandum of Understanding”.
Wike ended thus; “Despite the activities of Shell, we shall continue to protect national assets”.
This is the challenge host communities have had with SPDC over the years.
Interestingly, the negative activities of IOCs to their host communities in Rivers State, Niger Delta and, indeed, the world is not new.
Severally, host communities globally have cried out and, in some cases, suffered betrayal by their own leaders.
It is on record that the IOCs, including Shell Companies, had in the past employed different antics to deliberately create crises, political upheaval and cause community violence to have access to crude oil to the detriment of their host communities.
It is on record that about four years ago, an international television station based in Doha, Qatar, Al-Jazeera, broadcast a four-part documentary series known as the Secret of Seven Sisters. It was a television series revealing the story of a cartel of seven foremost oil companies formed to control the world’s oil. Al-Jazeera listed the seven sisters as Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Gulf, Texaco, BP and Shell.
Governor Wike’s recent remarks on foreign oil firms empowering cultists with surveillance jobs and Shell not implementing MoU no doubt is another indictment of a Sister among the Seven.
It would be recalled that in history, the Seven Sisters, in a bid to gain access to oilfields, had the penchant to manipulate host communities by causing war during which oil and gas would be transported out to world market, maintain price stability, while host communities languished in abject poverty and penury.
In fact, in the bid to dominate Africa, the Seven Sisters installed a king in Libya, a dictator in Gabon and fought the nationalization of oil resources in Algeria.
Reacting to Governor Wike’s observation to the activities of SPDC and other oil companies, a renowned historian, Professor Emeritus E. J. Alagoa, said Governor Wike was right and likened the behaviour of Shell to the conduct of Royal Niger Company in Nembe Kingdom.
According to Alagoa, the British, French, German and Spanish came to Africa to promote their own business, to tap whatever they could get out of the Black Continent as to develop Europe which they successfully did.
“I can say that Shell has perfected their strategy; they are more efficient than the Royal Niger Company ever did”.
Better still, the people of Kula have corroborated the view of Governor Wike. In fact, the Chairman of Kula Supreme Council of Traditional Rulers, Dr Kruma Amabepi-Eleki, said in a statement that it is a fact that Shell has a history of promoting insecurity, disunity and disharmony among its host communities.
He went further to observe that “Governor Wike has vindicated their position against Shell’s operation of OML 25 Flow Station in the Kula territory for almost four decades with nothing to show for its presence in the area”.
It is, therefore, common knowledge that from Kutei Borneo Basin in the Far East, to Kuwait-Iran in Middle East down to Umuechem in Etche LGA, Ogoni land and Kula community, Shell has not changed.
There is the need for a concerted effort by Rivers people and, indeed, the Niger Delta, to articulate the way out of this quagmire.
Today, even though some of the Seven Sisters have merged to pave the way for new cartel for greater atrocity, the blue print mid-wifed by their founding fathers such as Henry Deterding, co-founder of Royal Dutch, American Walter Teagle of Standard Oil Company and English man, Sir John Cadman, is still in force.
This is where it is necessary to also appeal to political leaders in positions of trust not to use youths for political campaigns and, in turn, dump them after winning election.
This is because politicians have been accused of empowering cult gangs during electioneering process after which they abandon them with guns to cause insecurity in society.
The time to act is now.
Sika is a public affairs analyst.