TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) said it has spent a total of N17 billion on the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) clusters in Rivers State, giving communities a highly-valued opportunity to decide and implement projects as well as programmes that have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
Shell has also reiterated its exit from Ogoni since 1993, stressing that it would not return to the area again either for exploration, or production.
This was disclosed by the General Manager, External Relations, SPDC, Igo Weli, at the presentation of the 2019 edition of the ‘Shell Nigeria Briefing Notes’ in Port Harcourt.
Weli disclosed that, since the GMoU concept took off in 2006, the funding had enabled the 19 clusters in the state to embark on projects covering health, education, water and power supply improvement, sanitation and infrastructure development.
“Shell has no intention to return to Ogoni again for any exploration and production. We are not taking a drop of oil in Ogoniland. If you hear there is a spill in Ogoni, it does not mean that there is any operation in the area. We have not produced oil in Ogoni since 1993.
He stated: “Under the terms of the GMoU, SPDC and its joint venture partners provide five-year funding for communities to implement development projects of their choice, which are managed by Cluster Development Boards under the guidance of mentoring NGOs.
“Currently, there are 39 active GMoU clusters in Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and Abia states and since inception in 2006 a total of $239 million (N44.36 billion) has been disbursed to these clusters to fund development projects.
“The success of the GMoU initiative has proved what could be achieved when government, international oil companies, communities and NGOs worked together for the common good,” he said.
“Shell in Nigeria Briefing Notes is an annual publication detailing the activities of the business interests of the global energy giant in Nigeria covering SPDC, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, and Shell Nigeria Gas.”
On another level of social investment in Rivers, Weli listed the Community Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS), which was established in 2010 in partnership with state governments, as an SPDC JV flagship project that delivers affordable integrated health care to beneficiaries.
“Clients in the scheme pay N10,000 per annum which covers about 95% of the people’s primary and secondary health care needs including child birth, seizure disorders, diabetic and ophthalmic care at the Obio Cottage Hospital. Ten other hospitals in Rivers State also enjoyed robust health intervention scheme by SPDC JV.”
In education, he cited the establishment of the first centre of excellence in Marine Engineering and Offshore Technology at Rivers State University in Port Harcourt established in 2017, which runs an 18-month Master’s and Diploma programmes in Marine Engineering, Naval Architecture, as well as Offshore and Subsea Engineering. This, was in addition to the many SPDC JV scholarship schemes which date back to the 1950s”.
“Supporting Ogoni youths in sustainable alternative livelihoods is in line with one of the recommendations of the 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report for the restoration of the Ogoni environment.
“In 2018, 100 Ogoni youths from communities near the Trans Nigeria Pipeline participated in training with 80 top-performing trainees receiving business start-up funding totalling more than $90,000 (N27.27 million).”
On the general development of the Niger Delta, Weli noted that between inception of the Niger Delta Development Commission in 2002 and the end of 2018, Shell companies alone contributed N375.16 billion to the commission for the purpose of facilitating the rapid, even and sustainable development of the region, into an area that is economically prosperous, socially-stable, ecologically-regenerative and politically-peaceful.
He said: “We’re proud of our extensive social investment footprints in Rivers State, which in some cases, even stretch beyond the SPDC joint venture.”
He noted that the responsibility for the development of communities, societies or states resides primarily with government and community stakeholders themselves.
“It stands to reason, therefore, that abdicating that responsibility for development to the private sector either fully or substantially is, in my assessment, one of the key issues militating against sustainable development not just of Rivers State but of the Niger Delta”.