Corporate Social Responsibility agenda for International Oil Companies (IOCs): new perspectives from stakeholders in the Niger Delta Region (NDR) of Nigeria
The discovery of oil in Nigeria in the 1950s has had extremes of both positive and negative impacts on Nigeria’s economic, political, social and environmental landscape particularly the Niger Delta Region (NDR). As a consequence, achieving an equitable distribution of oil revenue between all stakeholders has been a principal challenge. This lack of equitable distribution of revenues has led to instability and confrontation amongst and between some stakeholder groups. The qualitative study conducted with the major stakeholders in NDR was intended to explore the extant corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices of international oil companies (IOCs) and how they affect infrastructure development, capacity building and social welfare provision in NDR. It also investigated the current state of relationship between IOCs and other major stakeholders especially host communities in NDR. Stakeholders interviewed included IOCs, NNPC, host community leaders and subject matter experts
The findings from the sample of different stakeholder groups (IOCs, government, host communities and subject matter experts) suggest that participants have good perception of the CSR practices of IOCs within the region. This awareness gave insight into the factors that shape CSR activities of IOCs in the region. The study also reveals that IOCs are using most of their CSR initiatives to address the infrastructure and social needs of host communities. Evidently, a number of infrastructure projects are linked to the CSR initiatives of some IOCs.
Findings also point to a paradigm shift in the relationship between a number of IOCs and host communities in NDR. IOCs now engage host communities in almost all community development projects through the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMOU). This initiative gives absolute control of community development projects to the Regional Development Committees (RDCs). Therefore there is not much complexity in identifying the needs of host communities. The study adds that there is evidence that some IOCs are more committed to the sustainable development of their host communities. This difference is witnessed in a number of specific projects linked to given IOCs.
The major findings have been articulated in order to improve CSR practices of IOCs in NDR as well as encourage a friendly business environment. There is evidence from the study that some host communities are not taking maximum advantage of the opportunities presented by IOCs in the region. Generally speaking, the face of government in NDR is the IOCs and this portends a major challenge for all the stakeholders. The study has provided a CSR roadmap and a sustainable development approach for the region that can be implemented through a concerted effort by the quartet of IOCs, host communities, NNPC and State/Local Governments. The framework can form the basis for future CSR practices of IOCs in the region and beyond.