In 2009, the Nigerian arm of Shell Group, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), completely shut down its entire operations in the Western Niger Delta owing to increasing attacks on its workers and infrastructure.
This was after more than five years of violent attacks on oil Companies with piracy, kidnappings of oil workers and destruction of oil installations taking the centre stage. From 2004 when the violence started till 2006 when Shell began to leave Warri gradually, someone was Governor at that time and his major responsibility was to protect the interest of private investors.
But instead of protecting the interest of the Companies, he allowed the Youths to continue to threaten the peace of the region thereby forcing the major oil Companies to slip out of Delta State. That was the beginning of a capital flight that totalled billions of dollars leaving the economy of Delta State.
When Shell left Warri, they sold their assets in Warri and moved to Port Harcourt – the capital of neighbouring Rivers state. They went with over 3,000 contractors.
Over 100 Multinational Companies were in Warri at that time. We had Schlumberger, Haliburton, Briscoe, Sedco, Lee Engineering, just to name a few.
In fact, SPDC in Warri employed more than 300,000 people directly and indirectly. What was the population of Delta State then?
Let’s not even talk about Chevron-Texaco and the impact of their operations in Warri on the economic life of the oil city. That would be an additional 200,000 direct and indirect employment.
But do you know the most annoying part of this whole thing and why some of us who have seen the impact of Shell leaving Warri to other Places are so angry with successive administrations in Delta State? When Shell left Warri, they sold their Assets. Guess who bought those Assets? The same Politicians who frustrated Shell out of Warri.
Don’t let anybody lie to you that it was the Warri Crisis that destroyed Warri. That’s a fat lie. Warri is not the only town that has experienced a crisis.
Politicians destroyed Warri. People who should be ‘Warri Boys’ destroyed Warri. People who were expected to protect the interests of investors in Warri destroyed Warri by chasing the investors away.
2023 is yet another opportunity for Deltans to right the wrongs. I just hope we have learnt our lessons and that we arm ourselves with those lessons as we approach another election.
Delta can be great again. It’s a collective responsibility.