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RENEWED SHELL DIVESTMENT OF ONSHORE ASSETS: NOTHING TO CHEER ABOUT

-By Zik Gbemre

RENEWED SHELL DIVESTMENT OF ONSHORE ASSETS: NOTHING TO CHEER ABOUT

  • Insecurity is the single challenge pushing Shell and other multinationals out of the dreadful Nigerian investment climate.
  • It’s hypocritical of the President and Governors of the Niger Delta to go about the world begging for foreign investors when those already established are exiting the country.
  • Even for a developed economy like Russia, Putin had to step in to restrain Shell’s threat to leave the disunited Soviet Union at war with breakaway nations.

Insecurity was the biggest challenge that forced Shell to start divesting its onshore assets in the Niger-Delta, starting with stakes in Delta state in 1999.

Due to large scale youth violence encouraged by Chief James Ibori, tribal wars, ceaseless oil theft and communal disturbances, climaxing in a deliberate attempt by Governor Ibori successor cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan’s desperation to buy some of the key assets provided the impetus for Shell’s gradual exit from Delta.

Uduaghan’s failed bid to buy Shell Hospital in Ogunu-Warri. But using a company front, Shoreline, to buy Osubi-Warri Airstrip and has not been able to account for N11Billion Delta State funds he sunk into a failed expansion of a private property he had significant stakes.

Given the conspiracy to make the operating environment more challenging for the oil major, It got to a time Shell security costs in Nigeria surpassed what she spends on security in its operations across other parts of the world put together.

I did warn to deaf ears then, when it started, that multinationals exiting the country was a bad omen, not good for the image of Nigeria. But carefree Nigerian political leaders, elites don’t really care about national reputation. All they care is to pillage the commonwealth into their private vaults of ill-gotten wealth.

Today, any informed mind can imagine the untold consequences, the harsh toll, Shell exit took on Delta economy with several feeder companies leaving with the oil major, resulting in huge jobs and contract losses, throwing families into crisis and escalating unrest and criminality in collateral damages.

As advanced as Russia, Putin was mindful of the economic dangers in 2014 during the Russian – Ukrainian – Crimea crises when Shell threatened to exit Russia as a result. The Russian leader moves at all cost against Shell’s to leave.

Governors of the Niger-Delta and the Federal Government of Nigeria should ask themselves if all is well. We want foreign investors in Nigeria. The President, Governors and aides go about canvassing for investors in global for a while multinationals already established in vast stakes are exiting Nigeria and leaving the economy more vulnerable.

Nigeria, what is responsible? Wishful thinking will not develop our country, it won’t attract foreign investors. If the likes of James Ibori remain our choice of messiahs we continue to worship as even the elites still cheaply flock around them, if the failed leaders recycling selves are still the names gaining prominence on the lips of the electorate towards 2023, there is hardly any hope out of the situation.

Shell is divesting in Nigeria largely due to insecurity. No one should be deceived by the distraction that the company’s intention is to reduce emissions. Insecurity is the reason shell is divesting in Nigeria.

Like Shell, Dunlop, Michelin and sundry global investors are exiting Nigeria, yet Nigerian leaders are busy hypocritically begging foreign investors at international economic/business summits to come and invest in Nigeria. Of what economic values to Nigeria if international companies are exiting the country?

Where are the Wilbros and other hitherto bubbling multinational firms Ibori and his likes reportedly used fronts to buy after helping to push the foreign owners out of the country? All dead, collapsed.

Until we start taking our destinies into our hands, collectively speaking truth to power, rejecting and punishing bad leadership, the investment climate will experience increasing divestments by key foreign investors, not just Shell alone.

Zik Gbemre.

January 15, 2022

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