(a report from SchNEWS/ 188, 23 November 1998)
"The multinationals, in collaboration with the military, have waged a very vicious and relentless ecological war on our land."
- Oronto Douglas, founder of the pan-ethnic CHICOCO movement in the Niger Delta.
The fuse has once again been lit in Nigeria nearly three years after writer Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni dissidents were hung for non-violent protests.
In the past couple of weeks more than 10 oil stations, two helicopters and a drilling rig have been seized by armed Ijaw tribesmen, cutting the country's oil output by more than a fifth.
On Saturday tragedy struck when over 300 people were killed when a sabotaged pipeline caught fire as local people tried to collect the spilt petrol.
Despite the protests oil giants Shell peddle the same old multinational bullshit namely, 'that the politics of a country no matter how dodgy the regime, has nothing to do with them'. The fact is, Shell make over $300 million a year from Nigeria and is about to begin work on a $4 billion natural gas venture with the regime. And it is this money from the oil companies that provides the military with 80% of its revenue about half of which comes from Shell, helping to prop up the regime of "guns, boots, loot, whip, whims, decrees and prison bars."
Following the recent death of Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha democratic elections have been promised for May. However, the continuing environmental pollution and widespread cynicism about government promises to give an increased share of oil revenue to local communities has led to an upsurge in protests. As one BBC correspondent pointed out, many inhabitants of the densely-populated delta can see multi-million dollar oil installations from their makeshift homes where there is often no electricity or public water supply.
Once again multinationals like Shell are showing they dance to just one tune - the jingle of money. However, it is people like the Ogoni, who have chased Shell out of their lands, who show where our real power lies, and in a land which is one of Africa's largest military regimes.
BOYCOTT SHELL! OCCUPY ON NOV 10TH!
"Past action against Shell has been crucial to the morale of those resisting in Nigeria. We thank you for that and ask you to show solidarity again to keep the pressure on Shell and its military allies. Aluta continua! The struggle continues!"
- President of MOSOP-UK, Bari Kumbe
Shell now plans a 600 mile pipeline from Nigeria's neighbour, Chad, to Cameroon which could carry 900 million barrels. Backing the plan is a consortium including Exxon (a.k.a. Esso), Elf and, of course, Shell. World Bank officials are concerned about widespread environmental damage and disruption to indigenous tribes, Amnesty International have drawn attention to the 3 years imprisonment of an opposition MP by Chad's repressive regime for simply criticising the plans.
According to over 300 scientists on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change we can only burn a quarter of known fossil fuel resources before climate change becomes intolerable if not catastrophic.
For news and background on Ogoni, Shell and Nigeria contact:
Box Z, 13 Biddulph Street, Leicester LE2 1BH, UK. Tel: O116 255 3223 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.oneworld.org/delta
To find out about how multinationals operate contact:
Box E, 111 Magdalene Road, Oxford OX4 1RQ, UK Tel: 01865 791391 E-mail: email@example.com Web: http://www.oneworld.org/cw
And to find out more about sustainable lifestyles and how to save the world contact:
Myson House, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HT Tel: 01788 560631 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.oneworld.org/itdg
For a copy of the leaflet 'What's wrong with Shell' send a SAE to: London Greenpeace, 5 Caledonian Rd., London, N1 9DX.