‘Social investment key to sustainable oil exploration in Niger Delta’

‘Social investment key to sustainable oil exploration in Niger Delta’…Over $90m spent to maintain peace, devt in region

To avoid disruptions to oil production and exploration in the country, stakeholders have advocated increased stake in strategic social investment schemes in host communities where commodities were being exploited.

Although some of the oil firms claimed to have spent over $90 million to maintain peace in dealing with issues of sustainable, economic development and peace in the Nigeria Delta, they warned last month that escalating production costs due in part to security issues posed a serious challenge to Nigeria’s bid to boost its oil output and reserves.

The companies, under the umbrella body of the Oil Producers’ Trade Group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said high costs were a major disincentive to investing in new projects.

NNPC equally recorded a 77 per cent increase in cases of oil pipeline vandalism in its network of pipeline infrastructure in June 2019, adding that the company was collaborating with government security agencies to secure the pipelines and other production facilities.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), the Chamber’s President, Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, said within the Nigerian business space, strategic social investment is a contemporary and contextual issue to all stakeholders including the government, the general public and the corporation itself.

“Many years ago, corporations were concerned about what they can take from the society and care less to the need to give back to the host communities, hence rendering those communities uninhabitable and also leading to negative reputation of the corporation. The corporations’ business activities are usually termed as exploitation and greed for profit maximization,” he said.

Akomolafe who was represented by the Deputy president, Alhaji Sheriff Balogun, said, however, modern businesses have heightened their interest in the role of business beyond and above profit maximization to the awareness of social, environmental and ethical issues, adding that, it is therefore necessary to state that public outcry will not cease if business organizations fail to respond to the challenges these had posed for the society.

“In view of this, it is important to have such platform as this to highlight in a more formal and organized manner the contributions of corporations to the social well-being of their host communities. In addition to the above, it has been proven that companies around the world engage in social investment efforts as a way to promote local development and benefit stakeholders in their areas of operations.

“For the private sector, effective social investment programs can help companies gain a social license to operate, access land, reduce project and reputational risks, boost productivity, meet government requirements or global standards, and/or successfully compete for the next venture,” he stressed.

With over $90 million spent so far in the Nigeria Delta, the General Manager, Policy Government and Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Esimaje Brikinn, said the feat was achieved courtesy of a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) initiative, Partnership Initiative in the Niger Delta (PIN) that the firm single-handedly floated, stating that plans are ongoing to expand the project for another four years starting off in 2020.

Brikinn while speaking on “Strategic Social Investment: The Chevron Approach”, said his firm has spent a great deal of its resources to run a Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) model it launched in 2005, adding that the company has spent N22 billion channelled into community development.

In his words, “We have so far spent $90million in dealing with issues of sustainable, economic development and peace in the Niger Delta region, we are also working across the Niger Delta States and even in States where we do not have operations and that has brought some kind of peace in the area, businesses are being stimulated. The initiative has brought some level of positive impact in the Niger Delta. We are looking at another four years for that initiative which will be started in 2020. We will put in some more money to get that going. The government is also working actively to keep the Niger Delta quiet and we are also part of that process.

“The model is a multi-stakeholder participatory model for community engagement and sustainable development. We have spent a great deal of our resources to keep the model running, because it is very important to our operations and it is important for the impact that we make in the community where we operate. The N22 billion spent so far is still not enough and that is why we are calling for more stakeholders to key into this scheme”.

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