Attitude change key in Niger Delta

A number of solutions have been presented to improve local content and sustainable development in the Niger Delta region.

David Paganie
Managing Editor

ABUJA, Nigeria -- A number of solutions have been presented to improve local content and sustainable development in the Niger Delta region. But attitude change by the oil companies and local communities are the most critical, according to Stephen Benstowe. Benstowe laid out a detailed action plan for sustainable development directed to the Niger Delta oil companies, government, and local communities. He presented a summary of his plan to a standing-room-only audience at Offshore West Africa on Jan. 30.

According to Benstowe, Nigeria is the largest producer of oil in Africa and the 11th largest producer in the world. The country earns $20 billion/year in oil revenues. And only a few Nigerians enjoy the benefits, Benstowe said. Poverty, corruption, and violence are still prevalent in the region.

Benstowe called for oil companies to implement a viable sustainable development policy and to integrate the plan in local communities to help fight these issues. "It is time operating companies really see themselves as the direct contact with the people, and so, stick to policies with very high level of commitment and sincerity of purpose," he said.

Benstowe's action plans include:

1. Oil companies to produce a viable sustainable development policy
2. Government to create an office of inspector general to monitor the sustainable development policies of the oil companies
3. Communities to be receptive to new company and government approach towards sustainable development

The planning for a sustainable development policy should mimic the recommendations in the United Nations action plan endorsed by all governments at the Earth Summits, he said.

2/8/2008

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