Amnesty International has released a stinging critique of the oil industry in Nigeria, concentrating on the woeful conditions for ordinary people in the oil-rich Niger Delta. The report, whose findings echo similar studies stretching back many years, calls for an end to abuses. But like other critics, Amnesty offers few practical solutions and underplays the role of poor governance.
The government of Nigeria receives most of the oil revenues from the operations of private companies, such as Shell and Chevron. The failures of these private oil companies, while undeniable, remain far less damaging than the government’s own misdeeds, ommissions and calluous disregard for its fellow Nigerians, many of whom would experience quality-of-life improvements through straight-forward government actions.
Amnesty and many otherEuropean activists would like to see Shell out of Nigeria for good. The news this week that Gazprom wishes to operate in Shell’s historic stronghold in Nigeria thus opens the potential for some healthy competition, which ought to lead to better outcomes, however small.