On Shell’s grip on the Nigerian government and their coordination with the US embassy
The Guardian (UK) was one of the first to break the story:
Cables from Nigeria show how Ann Pickard, then Shell’s vice-president for sub-Saharan Africa, sought to share intelligence with the US government on militant activity and business competition in the contested Niger Delta – and how, with some prescience, she seemed reluctant to open up because of a suspicion the US government was “leaky”.
But that did not prevent Pickard disclosing the company’s reach into the Nigerian government when she met US ambassador Robin Renee Sanders, as recorded in a confidential memo from the US embassy in Abuja on 20 October 2009.
At the meeting, Pickard related how the company had obtained a letter showing that the Nigerian government had invited bids for oil concessions from China. She said the minister of state for petroleum resources, Odein Ajumogobia, had denied the letter had been sent but Shell knew similar correspondence had taken place with China and Russia.
NigerianCuriosity gives a synopsis of the part of the cables that concern Shell:
Ann Pickard, Shell’s V.P. for Africa, discusses Gazprom (Russia), weapons, militants. She expresses concerns that Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to did not co-opt (pay off) militants the way the governors of Bayelsa and Delta did. Pickard was unconfortable talking to US officials because she felt their system was “leaky”. Looks like she was right.
What is definitely of concern is the level of espionage that the Nigerian government suffers if the Russians were able to provide a full transcript of a meeting that took place between Ms. Pickard and a government minister.
The brazenness of sending that transcript to a participant in a private conversation goes to show that Nigeria had become a battleground of competing interests with the government completely oblivious of machinations within their corridors of power.
If the protection of Shell’s assets included seeking corporate secrets, information of arms shipments, meeting with high-level officials that excited the interest of serious competitors and the trading of information with a foreign government though under advice that the US Government was not known to exercise discretion, one can only wonder what else Shell was up to and how that contributed to raising Ms. Ann Pickard’s profile.
This is no doubt a can of worms writhing like large poisonous snakes, it stinks to the high heavens and we have hardly heard the last of this.
In another post, still on Shell, Akin asks some tough questions:
Besides all this there are questions, very difficult questions that need to be asked and ones that have no ready answers because one begins to wonder if we do still have our country anymore.
The issue here is not how many moles are being paid by Shell in our key ministries but how many other organisations have Nigeria by the balls whose interests are protected by having Nigerians “seconded” to high positions to inform of government, corporate, economic, legal and political activities?
Highly placed people in the Nigerian establishment now commit treason and espionage with impunity it is no doubt the state of affairs and how do we purge our whole system of this cancer?
Fearfully, one serious question is how do the activities of Nigerians in high places affect the ability for Nigeria to make progress if the enemy is amongst us?
Black Looks writes her thoughts on Naijaleaks:
The most interesting fact revealed is of course Shell’s total infiltration into all aspects of Nigerian politics and governance, acting as a spy for the US government. I find this somewhat amusing considering successive Nigerian governments over the past 40 years have been loving bed partners with Shell acting out some of the most brutal attacks on communities and the environment, not knowing that Shell was also very much in bed with the US government. In retrospect this is hardly surprising news but if one looks at Nigeria’s side of the relationship with Shell, it is apparent they were not aware of the duplicity and even more stupid had actually forgotten the Shell had “seconded people to all relevant ministries”.
Josh Weinstein of Develop Economies writes of oil companies in general:
The oil companies, to me, symbolize everything that is wrong with the world. I’m not an idealist by any means. And I don’t even blame them for being the John Wayne Gacy of corporate citizens. We demand oil, and we live in a capitalist world. This is the unfortunate reality and terrible collateral damage. C’est la vie.