WikiLeaks: Shell’s grip on Nigerian Government Revealed
“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.”
Much of Africa appears on the economic upswing. Uganda’s oil wealth is beginning to turn their economy around, and Botswana enjoys a higher standard of living due to enormous mineral wealth. However, the largest oil producer in Africa; Nigeria, still has a population that lives 70% below the poverty line, despite billions of dollars in revenue.
The cables revealed paid Shell employees being inserted into nearly every relevant branch of the Nigerian government. Celestine AkpoBari of Social Action Network explains, “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.”
Due to Shell’s intimate involvement, the cables show the U.S. government going to Shell’s then Vice President Ann Pickard to get intelligence regarding military activity and business competition in the Niger Delta.
A majority population below poverty levels is more easily explained now that all oil revenue are clearly being soaked up by Shell. It also explains how the company was able to get away with such wide spread environmental distraction in the Niger Delta.
The cables also reveal an extreme nervousness regarding the The Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB) which might possibly redefine how the oil is extracted and creates the Nigerian government as a for profit oil company, severely slashing Shell’s involvement, and raising tax and royalty payments.
Peter Robinson, the Shell Vice President for Africa, told the U.S. State Department that Nigerian authorities just don’t understand the oil industry.
“Amateur technocrats run the oil and gas sector,” the cable quotes Mr. Robinson. “They believe that they can control the industry via spreadsheets and pushing through the PIB.”
An aide to the Nigerian President Umaru Yar’adua said he hoped the bill would pass by early next year.