Strategy to promote socioeconomic development in the Niger Delta region of Africa, the continent’s largest energy-producing sector.

The ongoing conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, an area which also happens to be the world’s eight largest producer of oil, is one of the continent’s longest. But is it really so intractable that it cannot be solved, or at least alleviated to a large extent? PREVENT HATE does not think so. At its core is socioeconomic depravation — the local population is not getting its economic requirements met, and in turn, it has led to social dysfunction. 
The Federal Government (of Nigeria) yesterday sought assistance of trade unions and oil companies  in its efforts to restore peace and secure business environment in oil-producing areas.
The move is coming on the heels of expression of concern by Secretary to  Government of the Federation, Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, over the worsening unemployment situation in the country, brought about by the global economic crisis.
Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, revealed this  while inaugurating a standing committee on labour issues in the oil and gas sector, adding that government believes that collaborating with  critical stakeholders in the search for peace in the region will hasten  achievement of enduring peace and security in the region.
Kayode said government is desirous of seeing that the committee moves very quickly to bring in across the board international best practices, as it relates to industrial relations into the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. “I also want to see the committee support  government efforts to resolve the  issue of  security in the Niger Delta,” he said. [emphasis mine]
He said one of the biggest problems facing the  industry  is security threat in  oil producing areas, a situation that has snow-balled into a hydra-headed monster.
Also yesterday, government inaugurated a Labour Relations Committee headed by  Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, to take care of industrial relations issues with regard to other industrial unions in other sectors of the economy.
Much gas and oil have been extracted from the region, and a lot of people have become rich because of it, but the majority of the local population has yet to experience true empowerment. The local resources have not been equitably distributed and reinvested, which has led to regional upheaval, and a climate for criminal opportunists. We could philosophize all day as to why this is going on, then sit back and do nothing. Or we can actively work to solve the problem by providing the Niger Delta with the best practices they need. 
Here is PREVENT HATE’s plan to foster peace and socioeconomic development in the Niger Delta region of Africa. They are good people, and they want it. So let’s do it. 
This plan will work.
Goal: To foster socioeconomic development and peace in the Niger Delta region by using best practices in community development procedures.
Method: Three tracks.
Track 1) To determine the best method to redistribute the various resources in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria among the diverse stakeholders in a way that would be mutually attractive to the foreign owners of capital & technology (energy companies), local owners of land (governors and tribal elders), and the Nigerian government.
PREVENT HATE’s recommendations:
Currently, the local population receives approximately 13% of energy revenue, which is not enough to sustain them. Niger Delta land owners (tribal elders and regional governors) could agree to relinquish 1% of ownership over their land in return for every 5% increase in revenue they would receive from the energy companies.  Under the PREVENT HATE plan, a 10% increase in revenue for the local population (from 13% to 23%) would yield 2% land ownership for the energy companies. PREVENT HATE suggests the energy companies offer to elevate local revenue to 25.5% in return for ownership over 2.5% of the local land.
[**Note: “Ownership of the land” for the energy companies, in this case, does not mean they would actually have control over any particular parcel of territory beyond what they do now. Ownership is meant as a method for energy companies to become social and financial stakeholders in business conducted upon the land from which they could earn a portion of taxes and gain other sources of revenue, while simultaneously promoting a calmer and more investment-friendly atmosphere. Think of “ownership” in this case as being a shareholder in investments that occur on the lands in question rather than an actual land owner.]
Although they will give up a portion of their revenue up front, the energy companies should see this as a lucrative long-term strategy for their own sustainability because they would gain 2.5% of a stake in subsequent non-energy enterprises (agriculture, entrepreneurship, manufacturing, etc.) that would develop throughout the Niger Delta with the increased energy revenue. In addition, insurrections in these areas would significantly lessen, resulting in additional revenue immediately in those areas affected by pipeline destruction, kidnappings, etc.
This would be a socially conscious financial investment on the part of the owners of capital and technology that would yield long term economic benefits for them by helping them diversify their portfolio in the Niger Delta. It also would create many new jobs throughout the region, many of which could be cross-cultural cooperative endeavors, and hence, would foster greater regional peace.
Track 2) For the energy companies, Niger Delta governors, land owners, Nigerian government, and an accredited school of business to elevate the ability of the local population to gain employment with the energy companies, so that fewer foreign workers are needed.
PREVENT HATE’s recommendations:
For a world class university to hold a workshop with the above stakeholders with the intention of creating an exclusive MBA program for the residents of the Niger Delta where they would learn best practices in business specific to the extractive energy industries in that region. The business school could certify and accredit the program, but it could be put together so that the graduates are prepared to work in the Niger Delta energy sector, and/or become entrepreneurs in other energy-related fields (including clean technology), from which the energy companies could profit as partial stakeholders and “land owners.” The educational program would occur locally in the Niger Delta.
Track 3) Strategic training in various socioeconomic development methods, including best practices in economic development, municipal sector enhancement, environmental safeguards, public safety, public health, and public/private partnerships.
PREVENT HATE’s recommendations:
For a world class university in a major metropolis to work along with its local municipal infrastructure to offer customized training to the local governments of the Niger Delta, resulting in elevated standards of living. This would include the development of regional Socioeconomic Development Centers throughout the Niger Delta, which would maintain ties to strategic international partners who would continue offering training sessions to the local population through the use of digital media, and other procedures.
The PREVENT HATE method:
— provides elevated revenue for the local population in accordance with job growth opportunities,
— provides the energy companies with long term sustainability options and less worry about pipeline destruction and kidnappings,
— provides the local population with excellent education and access to gain employment (and hence look to cooperate with) the energy companies, and
— provides the local population with strategic international partners to train and engage them toward self-sufficiency.
Altogether, this plan will result in peace and economic development for the region. The question is whether anybody is really listening enough to be proactive and do something about it.


1 Comment

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