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Oil, Corruption, Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden stands to the left of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (the two people in the centre of the photo). 

By John Donovan

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has just given oil giant Shell a nod for a new $5bn investment deal in a major Nigerian oil and gas project.

This was after being feted by Shell senior management during his just concluded 4 day visit to the Netherlands, which including a meeting with Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer, Ben van Beurden.

AFP: Nigerian leader backs major Shell project on Dutch trip: 2018-07-19 17:07

I seem to recall that during his successful run for the presidency, Muhammadu Buhara claimed to be the anti-corruption candidate.

That worthy stance seems somewhat at odds with his meeting Shell top brass at a time when Shell and a number of its former executives are facing criminal charges in respect of the billion dollar OPL 245 Nigerian oil deal involving the former Nigerian oil minister, Dan Etete. BvB is personally tainted by the scandal as a result of what he said during his wiretapped telephone conversation with his then CFO colleague, Simon Henry. The next hearing in the Italian court case begins tomorrow, Friday, 20 July.

It seems fair to conclude under the circumstances that the Nigerian President is unconcerned about the possibility of tarnishing his anti-corruption platform.

I note in this regard, that despite the abject poverty in many parts of Nigeria, he departed the Netherlands on his impressive, but controversial, presidential jet. Last year it was costing $4,000 per day in parking fees to keep the aircraft on standby for him. It is but one of his multi-plane fleet, despite campaigning against what he regarded as a waste of money when his predecessor operated a presidential fleet of ten planes.

Why has he sucked up to Shell when those who suffered at the hands of Shell in Nigeria over many years, including widows of the Ogoni Nine, such as Esther Kiobel, have had their litigation against Shell blocked by the oil giant and its ruthless army of lawyers for over two decades?

He seems to have forgotten about Shell’s horrendous misdeeds in Nigeria, including complicity in murder, pollution on an epic scale, placing spies throughout the Nigerian government and promoting violence and corruption.

Will Muhammadu Buhara soon be in a position to add more jets to his fleet?

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