Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a legal and ethical mechanism, which businesses adopt to effect positive changes on social issues such as environment, health, economic conditions and others. This is primarily a philanthropic function of a business entity that empowers the community through various activities. Many organizations use community based initiatives aimed at sustainable development for local residents. It has become imperative for businesses to develop CSR initiatives in the world today (Noer et al., 2008).
In his book, Activist, Ojaide (2010), reveals that, people in the Delta region who claim to be enlightened, are the perpetrators of acts that violate the interests of the local inhabitants. They are the people involved in sabotage and degradation of the community resource by oil companies from the Niger delta. The book highlights the suffering of the local people from the effects of political corruption and environmental pollution brought about by the activities within the Delta region. Collier (2011) agrees that the activities in the Delta region burden the impoverished masses who do not share in the benefits from their own resources. He writes, "Extract oil from my wet soil, prospect for iron in my bones, and level my forest for timber. Then they heap barrels on my back, strap billets on my shoulders, and the hardwood to my sides" (Collier, 2011).
In a journal article titled Fifty years of oil exploration in Nigeria: the paradox of plenty Udosen et al. (2009), examines the Nigerian oil industry in Nigeria. They claim that Niger Delta region is a curse to the people of Nigeria. The oil industry is not beneficial to the people. Data collected from Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), reveal that successive governments have misappropriated oil resource in the area leading to lack of standardized regulation of the industry (Aluko, 2004). The increased over reliance on the oil reserves has resulted to lack of trust in the government by the local inhabitants. Instead, the locals depend on the militia groups to perform government's responsibilities. In addition, the government has not effectively addressed the environmental issues resulting from oil spillage and damping of waste as well as the corruption thriving within the oil industry.
In the book, We are many, in the labyrinths of the delta Ojaide (1986), talks about rampant poverty and incessant environmental pollution in the Niger delta region in Nigeria. The degeneration of the ecosystem and other environmental issues, concern the inhabitants who demand proper management of resources. Ojaide, claims that it has led to activism among the local people in the call for environmental and economic justice. Environmental justice is important in resolving the management aspect as this will positively influence regulation of the oil resource within the region.
In the book, Ake: the years of childhood Soyinka (1981), narrates how the world has become overpopulated as well as the unethical application of environmental and natural resource conservation practices. He says that little attention is given to the environment by the political class. He stresses that the value of human beings cannot be disassociated from the environment. The issue in the Niger Delta including, social injustices, economic disparity and environmental degradation is a violation of human rights that need resolution. They make oil exploration and mining in the area meaningless.
Delta Oil's Dirty Business
The video Delta Oil's Dirty Business highlights involvement of various stakeholders in the oil industry in Nigeria. These include the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), local politicians who benefit from community programs and local residents. According to the video documentary, Nigeria's Delta region is characterized with unscrupolus deals between some politicians and multinational oil companies. On the other hand, bomb attacks, kidnappings, and killings of humans make part of the day-to-day routines by MEND. "MEND is the most recent, and most renowned, of the large number of militant groups in the Niger Delta" (Hanson, 2007, para.2).
The Niger Delta of Nigeria, has a great amount of the planet's oil reserves leading to a robust oil industry while the local residents and the community as a whole is not party to the benefits associated with the oil resource. Instead, they are subjected to environmental pollution from the oil industry. The carelessness and irresponsibility of the oil miners result to widespread spillages in the area of operation placing both animals and plants at great risks because of the breakup of their ecological system. In addition, the oil spillage affect the 27 million inhabitants of the Delta region who are at the mercy of the oil barons and corrupt politicians. The inhabitants of the Delta area are restricted from participating in agricultural and fishing activities farming because of the rampant spillage, the once thriving mangrove near the river banks are depleted leading to risk of massive destruction of both flora and fauna. Furthermore, the oil companies are responsible for a large deposit of non-biodegradable material as waste from the industry.
The residents of the Delta region of Nigeria are concerned with the developments from the oil companies. With little help from their legislatures, and the prevailing harsh economic condition, many have taken arms leading to rise in militia activities. They demand an end to the destruction of the water systems, environment as well as benefits from the local resource. The demands of the locals have been met by brute force from the police who are funded by the oil companies leading to rise of organized attacks by the locals through the MEND establishment. MEND is a heavily armed militia group patrolling the waters of both Niger River and parts of the Atlantic Ocean offering protection to both the environment and the local residents. The politicians, the owners of the oil companies, and beneficiaries of the shell community programs are continuously engulfed in frequent confrontations with the locals. Politicians protect the oil companies operations at the expense of the environmental sustainability.
Level of Responsibility in the Niger Delta
The corporations in the Niger delta region have not contributed positively in CSR. Iwu-Egwuonwu (2010) advices that the corporation need to engage in CSR or else they risk engaging perpetually in damage control. Paul Seaman (2010) argues that;
"Shell proposes to spend $8 billion over the next two years followed by $1 billion per year over the following ten years to clean up the Niger Delta. That's a region in which more than 30 million people live. So there's no way that an investment of $2.50 per person per week for two years, followed by $0.62 for ten is going to lift the region out of poverty"( Para. 7).
The major indicator of a company's success is the CSR and the responsibility to host community (Ako et al., 2007). The oil mining companies should involve the locals in their operations to nurture good relationship. "Our interest is in human rights, employee rights, environmental protection, community development, and stakeholder rights" (Natufe, 2001).
The oil mining and refineries companies should involve the local inhabitants in their operations. Desousa et al. (2010), agree that social responsibility contributes to company's competitiveness as well as attraction of valuable employees and improving reputation. The companies should engage the community in decision making to handle waste management in their ecosystem, therefore enabling them to create a positive impact in the community around Niger Delta region (Cuizon, 2009).
Ako, R.T., Obokoh, L.O. & Okonmah, P., 2007. Forging peaceful relationships between oil-companies and host-communities in Nigeria's Delta region: A stakeholder's perspective to corporate social responsibility. Journal of Enterprising Communities, 2(3).
Aluko, M.E., 2004. Nigeria and Its Membership of OPEC. [Online] Available at:
http://www.nigerdeltacongress.com/narticles/nigeria_and_its_membership_of_op.htm [Accessed 27 March 2012].
Collier, G., 2011. The Cumulaive Neglect of Collective Responsibility. In Collier, G. Spheres
Public and Private: Western Genres in African Literature. New York: Rodopi. p.121.
Cuizon, G., 2009. What is Corporate Social Responsibility? How will CSR Benefit…