Date Published: 07/07/10
AGIP: Conspiracy of A Multinational Coy By Idumange John
The classical view that has gained wide acceptance is that the primary aim of multi-national oil corporation is to exploit their host communities without putting back anything in return. Thus while the corporations mine crude oil and gas over the most inhuman conditions that create no room for carrying out their corporate social responsibilities, they operate under very favorable legal regimes that empower them to pollute the environment and render the host communities poorer and helpless. Most often, they leave in their trail massive economic dislocation, conflict and social instability.
In Ghana, the multinationals exploited gold through the Obuasi Gold Fields and after about three decades of reckless miming of the resource, abandoned Ghana to the most depraved and vile form of wretchedness and stagnation. The Ghanaian economy has not fully recaptured its vitality and vigour in spite of the surgical operation of the former President Rawlings.
In Angola and Congo Democratic Republic, multinational corporations aggravated the civil strife by encouraging their collaborators to buy stolen diamond and gold. Some over zealous multinationals even meddle in local politics as in the case of SPDC in Ogoni land. In extreme cases, some of them engaged in fifth column activities, sabotage, money laundering and gun-running as characteristics of predatory capitalism.
In the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, while the oil majors declare fantastic profits and repatriate them without re-investing the surplus capital, they throw away crumbs under the guise of community development; and in extreme cases they incite mayhem through the implementation of polices that exclude key stakeholders in the Region. In fact re-investing the surplus capital or running an all-inclusive multi-stakeholder management is an anathema to the multinationals.
The Azienda Generale Italian Petroli or AGIP was founded in 1926 to produce hydrocarbon in Northern Italy. The firm was invited by the Federal Government in 1962 and formed the ENI GROUP, and since 1969, most of her activities are marked by impurity in dealing with her host communities. The oil mining activities of the Agip are sustained by two States namely: Rivers and Bayelsa States, but these States have not benefited optimally from Agip in terms of employment, contracts and physical presence.
Agip is still involved in practices such as casualization of workers in order to pay them slavish wages and most of the victims are from the NDR. The people are also not in a hurry to forget about the brigandage, mayhem and havoc wrecked by Agip in Umuchem, Ologbobiri, Etiema, Okoroba, Agrisaba, Ekibiri and other communities where oil spillage related matters were allowed to degenerate to avoidable conflicts and blood-bath. It is repugnant to note that since the occurrence of those ugly events, neither the attitude of the company nor her host-community engagement strategy has changed for the better. Over the years Agip has not mustered up the goodwill to open an office Yenagoa – capital of Bayelsa State. Even the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas Project (LNG) has an office in Abuja, and there is not a semblance of an office in Yenagoa. only short-changed the interest of the core oil producing people, but demonstrated a very poor concept of corporate social responsibility. Such perceptions had in the past fueled crisis in oil bearing communities.
The Nigerian Agip Oil Company Ltd has three subsidiaries namely: Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Agip Energy, and Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited - all of them belong to the Eni Group. ENI GROUP is the parent company which operates in Land and Swamp. ENI GROUP has four (4) Oil blocs namely: Oil Mining License OML 60, 61, 62 & 63 OML 60 basically operates on land and most of OML 60 is in the Kwale area of Delta State. OML 61 and 62 operates mainly in Bayelsa State in Obama and Tebidaba flow, while OML 63 is situated in Bayelsa and Delta state specially the Burutu area. ENI GROUP has its swamp Headquarters at Brass while its land headquarters is in Obiafu/Obrikom near Omoku in Rivers State.
Agip Energy operates in shallow offshore usually in locations in locations with water depth that is shallower than 200 meters. AE has two (2) oil blocs all of which are in Bayelsa State. The third subsidiary is Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, which operations fall within water depths more that200 meters to the abyss operates 5 blocs but presently only one bloc, OML 125 is currently put into production. It is worthy to mention here that the has oil all the blocks are close to Warri and not Lagos as may be claimed by some people who are bent on moving the headquarters to Lagos. The oil blocs OML 120, 121, 125, 134 and while OPL 244 is in the deep offshore Bayelsa.
Agip has no physical presence in Bayelsa State. In fact, the company cannot even honour the State with a functional office. Sadly, the headquarters of Agip in Port Harcourt is at the point of been taken away to Lagos. Why is the Eni Group treating the host States with such contempt and grave injustice? For how long will the people of the Region suffer injustice, neglect and marginalization? Why is the misery index in the Region alarming in spite of government pronouncements about alleviating the plight of the people?
The grand conspiracy has been to cause confusion among host communities in the Niger Delta Region through brazen neglect of Corporate Social Responsibility and interference in domestic politics, headquarters of Agip to Lagos. The logic is that NAEP operates offshore hence the blocs could be assessed from Lagos. The rationale is that since offshore oil wells are hardly accessible to the youths, NAEP will exploit the oil even without employing Niger Delta people. The second factor used to rationalize the movement of the administrative Headquarters is the prevailing atmosphere of youth militancy in the Niger Delta Area. However, the truism is that the General Manager of Agip and other principal officers are all non-indigenes. So there is a grand conspiracy to frustrate the Niger Delta people the same way Obasanjo and Funso Kukpolokun the former GMD of NNPC conspired to frustrate the Brass LNG Project. Ex-President Obasanjo and Kukpolokun implemented this conspiratorial act by adopting three strategies.
The Obasanjo administration persuaded Chevron to pull out by withdrawing its equity in the Brass LNG and moved it to Olokola (OK) LNG in Ogun State, which was designed to pipe gas from Delta State because Ogun State has no gas. Moreover, the Federal Government promptly signed and sealed the Final Investment Decision (FDI) of the OK LNG while that of Brass which started more than a decade ago was not sealed.
The Federal Government made an orchestrated move to establish the administrative headquarter of Brass LNG in Lagos and inundated the Board of Directors with Yoruba people including the Personnel Manager. Up to date it is difficult to identify any person from Brass holding any strategic position. Yenagoa capital of Bayelsa State does not even have a liaison office. The question is what is Governor Timipre Sylva thinking when the State is being short-changed? President Jonathan and the Minister of Petroleum Resources should show more than a passing interest in the activities of AGIP in Bayelsa State.
The gang-up and grand conspiracy is not new. At independence, more than 75% of the companies in Nigeria had their headquarters in Lagos. It was they who deleted the derivation formula from the lexicon of revenue allocation. In the early 1970’s, the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way was awarded at the same time with the Yenagoa-Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road. While the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way was promptly completed and tarred more than seven times, that of the Yenagoa Kolo-Nembe-Brass Road was abandoned, and up to date, the project is on the drawing board. This a classic case of resource curse and oil doom. The members of the National Assembly representing the area have not brought such matters for debate.
The consensus is that most host communities are not benefiting optimally from Agip’s community development initiatives as evidenced in the haphazard manner in which Memoranda of Understanding MOUs are implemented. When that conspiracy is executed, the host communities would be denied the opportunity of leveraging private businesses that could lead to self-employment. If the hegemons in Agip feel that the NAE have been moved to Lagos because of insecurity. President Jonathan should reverse this trend through the Petroleum Ministry. The rehabilitation of a handful of militants under the Amnesty Programme is just a palliative and not a lasting panacea to the problem of the Niger Delta Region. There is more to be done.
Idumange John, wrote from Yenagoa