03 February 2009

Oil Companies Won't do it Alone

Some of the words spoken by the newly appointed Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Obong Ufot Ekaette, are troubling. While he correctly charges the Oil companies with failing to live up to their agreements with communities and the nation, the minister at no point mentioned the role of the government in facilitating development and infrastructure construction implementation.

This is problematic because it shows a lack of leadership and vision on behalf of government. From the tone of the minister, the government is content to sit back and allow Oil companies to construct roads and job programs on their own. The role of the state is to do these things, not to leave them to the whim of disinterested parties. Without local or national government leadership it is absurd to expect the Oil industry to do anything altruistic. Their business is to make money. To lament their inaction while refusing to regulate or hold them accountable is disingenuous--after all, the job of government is to regulate what happens in the territory and ensure the livelihood and well-being of citizens.

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