Nigeria is a country situated in West Africa in the Nile Delta region. It is a country that is well endowed with oil as its prime mineral resource. However, this mineral is the cause of Nigeria’s pollution/environmental problems. (UNEP, 2006)
Political And Social Issues Behind The Crisis And Effects On The Community
There are a number of key players in Nigeria’s oil industry; the first being the local citizens especially the people of the Ogoni tribe, secondly the government and lastly international companies that act as distributors or refineries, a good example being Shell.
The government is a part owner of the oil companies in that country. However it has been blamed for not directing profits gained from the countries oil trade within. It has also not contributed its part of the investment needed to sustain the oil industry in Nigeria. (Kretzmann, W. 1997)
Multinational corporations are also to blame for the current environmental crisis. This is because their piping systems are sometimes faulty and cause oil spillages. These spillages are dangerous to the local community in a variety of ways. First, they could and have caused fires to the local community when in contact with a fire source. This could cause irreparable damage to their trees, plants and livestock. A case in point is the inferno that occurred in 1998 and destroyed many people’s lives. (Kretzmann, W. 1997)
In addition, oil spillages can lead to pollution of fresh water sources in the region. This could have serious implications to the Nigerian economy since a number of its citizens depend on fishing as their source of livelihood. (Fish can be killed by suffocation since oil spillages prevent free flow of oxygen in water). (UNEP, 2006)
Oil spillages can cause inadequate water supplies to the nearby population. Most of the water that is used by locals comes from the water body which becomes useless after it has been polluted by crude oil. (UNEP, 2006)
Lastly barrenness of soil can also result if covered by oil. This is because organisms within the soil require oxygen to survive. It is these very organisms that enrich soil with nutrients and makes them fertile.
Another danger that multinational oil corporations could bring to the local community is air pollution/gas flares that are released into the atmosphere by factories. This brings endangerment to the health of the natives as effluent gas is dangerous when inhaled in large quantities. It could affect the bird population too. (UNEP, 2006)
Social unrest has also resulted from the inequitable distribution of wealth obtained from the trade of oil. Time and time again Nigeria has been marred with protests from disgruntled citizens. The inferno of ’98 is a clear indication of the inequality experienced in the country since people would not be scrambling for a few spillages if wealth had been distributed fairly. (Kretzmann, W. 1997)
Resource Management Factors That Contributed To the Shortage
Multinational corporations have a corporate responsibility to safeguard the welfare of the local population, and to ensure that they operate in harmony with their surroundings. They are partly to blame for this prevailing crisis due to inadequate maintenance of their piping systems. This means that leakages should have been checked by them and immediate action taken. (Kretzmann, W. 1997)
Oil companies could also have compensated any resident who would have been damaged or affected by their negligence. They should also have offered a fair price to citizens of Nigeria who deserve reasonable payback for having this precious mineral in their land. Workers should also have been given adequate pay for any labor provided in an oil firm.
The government exercised poor management in this issue. Firstly, it did not invest back in its country to ensure economic growth and bring about less civil unrest. It instead allowed the economy to be driven by a few wealthy individuals. Secondly, it did not compensate the families of those who died from oil fires. Lastly, it did not invest in establishing refineries in its own country or improving those in existence. This is evident from the fact that Nigeria buys imported gasoline yet it has the potential of producing its own. It instead lets it get wasted as effluent from industries. (Kretzmann, W. 1997)
Recommendations for Addressing Management Issues
- The Nigerian government should put in place laws that regulate matters of health and safety by any oil industry or company operating in the market.
- Investment should be done by the government in their industries. This will enable the country to be self sustaining and curb importation at high prices.
- International human rights groups should get involved to ensure that multinational organizations meet their end of the bargain and that they are not above the law when compensation claims are made.
- Multinational corporations should adhere to strict international standards concerning the environment. In addition industrial waste should not be dumped anyhow and they should deal with any oil spillages.
Resource shortage in Nigeria is as a result of shortcomings from the government and multinationals. If these two groups regulate each other and international watchdogs regulate them too then the situation can be restored back to normal.
Kretzmann, W. (1997): Human Rights and Environmental Operations Information on the Royal Dutch, Shell Group of Companies; pp.11-12, Human Rights Watch; Africa; Permanent Transition pp.40-41
UNEP (2006): Global environmental outlook 2006: Earthscan Publication London UK.