WikiLeaks On Nigerian Oil Corruption
Nigerian oil remains major source of corruption
Nigeria and Shell Oil and the Exposure by WikiLeaks
Malik Sekou Osei
(Unedited First daft foe Black Star News
December 13th 2010)
WikiLeaks has exposed through the trove of leaked documents the extent of corruption in Nigeria that involves the major Western oil companies.
One cable details the visit to the U.S. embassy by Shell’s executive vice-president for Africa Ms. Ann Pickard, on October 13th 2009, for a meeting with the U.S. ambassador Robin Sander, to discuss the status of the Petroleum Industry Bill then being considered by the Nigerian National Assembly. The bill would legalize international joint ventures, further opening the nominally state-owned oil industry to foreign capital.
Ms. Pickard was to discuss the company’s plan for maneuvering and directing the legislature, cautioning that the Nigerian Senate “will pass a bad bill," but that "we aren’t worried," however "we need to move quickly.”
Shell had expected to have its way in the lower Nigeria house, Packer goes to say: “We are working with the House and the House appears to want to work with us.” Robin Sanders had asked if the industry was united in this approach—i.e., if the US owned companies had differences with Shell, which was British-Dutch owned—Pickard replied that there was “total alignment with the international oil companies at every level.”
The ambassador told her that the US, British, Dutch and French embassies had made a joint call to the managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Mohammed Barkindo, in support to encourage of the plan for joint ventures.
Then Ms. Pickard told Ambassador Sander about China’s latest interests in bidding on oil blocks in Nigeria, explaining that, “Shell had received a copy of the letter that Special Advisor to the president on Petroleum Matters Dr. Emmanuel Egbogah had sent to the Chinese which said that their offer for oil exploration blocks was not good enough.”
For Shell had very good sources in the Nigeria government talks with both
China and Russia, because the Nigerian government “had forgotten that Shell had
seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had
access to everything that was being done in those ministries.”
While looking at these discussions one can see the real relation between
the supposedly an independent country as Nigeria and the multinational oil company
of Shell, whose annual gross revenues are equivalent to Nigeria ’s GDP. For Nigeria
is sovereign in name only, while Shell in partnership with other oil giants and the
US and British imperialism, has the final say on all key decisions and questions.
The discussion between Pickard and the US ambassador went well beyond
immediate oil interests. They also discussed internal Nigerian politics, including
the most recent amnesty offer by the central government to separatist militants in
the Niger Delta, the main oil-producing region within the county. Pickard goes to
say that the situation would remain quiet until the end of the year, but would get
“out-of-hand” when state elections began in the New Year.
While according to the cable, “She expressed particular concern about
Bayelsa state, home to Shell’s 5000,000 barrel-per-day capacity Bonny field.” She
goes to say that Israeli security experts had been deployed in Bayelsa state, but
not in the Delta region and that there has been “a big drop in kidnapping” as a
At an earlier meeting, on September 18th 2008, Pickard had discussed with a
US embassy official on the aftermath of a violent attack on a Shell facility.
According to the cable sent by consul-general Ms Donna Blair, Pickard asked what he
US government knew about any interest in Nigeria on part of the Russian oil company
called Gazprom, as well the possible shipment of surface-to-air missiles to militant
groups in the Niger Delta.
Shell executives and embassy officials had engaged in detailed discussion
of the new military tactic employed by the militants, who had attacked from land
rather than from the water, as in previous incidents, and also the political
responses by the Nigerian authorities. At this point Ms Pickard had come to
complained that the Rivers State governor “[had] lacked the connections among River
state militants leaders to successfully co-opt them as governors in [the] Delta and
Bayelsa states have done with militants in their states.”
However, in relation to Gazprom, Pickard had said that “contacts in the
British government [had told her that Nigeria had promised the Russians] access to
17 trillion cubic feet of nature gas.” Thus understanding that this would require
taking concessions currently assigned to other companies, and she assumed that Shell
would be the “prime target.”
The Shell vice president also told the US consul that the oil company had
“intelligence” about a shipment of surface-to-air missiles, but was unsure of its
reliability. The cable continues: “When asked what aviation security steps Shell was
taking, Pickard said Shell helicopters generally fly above the effective range of
the small and medium caliber weapons used by militants.”
At another meeting on January 27th, 2009, Pickard complained about the
level of corruption in the Nigerian government, saying that oil buyers had to large
bribes to the managing director of the NNPC, the government’s chief economic adviser
and even the first lady, Turai Yar’Adua. “Pickard also reported an instance of the
Attorney General Aondoakaa allegedly soliciting a $20 million bribe to sign a
document,” the cabled had read.
The immediate reason for this visit was an attack by militant on a tanker
loading at the Shell platform in Bonny, the 15th such attack on an oil company in
the first month of 2009, which was a part of the general breakdown of the security
in the country.
According to the cable, “The Ambassador asked what Shell’s thoughts were on
any potential for a coup. Pickard answered that there is little intellectual capital
to plain and execute a coup and Shell sees little potential for one.”
Then at this point the two began to discussed the precarious state of the
health of the President Yar’ Adua. He was to die the next year, and has been
succeeded by the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.
Another embassy cable notes unconfirmed reports of bribery, smuggling and
other forms of corruption linked to Yar’ Adua’s wife, who had purchased a $10
million house in central London . One contact told embassy officials that while Yar’
Adua was not taking bribes himself, “his wife siphoned off millions in public funds
for private use.”
The cable also reported on an interview with a Yar’Adua crony, Dahiru
Mangal, who had just been named special adviser to the president. According to the
cable, “Yar’Adua instructed Mangal to crease any illicit activity if Mangal wished
to enjoy official recognition by the least the appearance of respect for the rule of
law, and thus, does not want any of his close advisors openly involved in suspected
The most recent cable from Nigeria released by WikiLeaks describes a
meeting February 26th, 2010 between Ambassador Sander and Goodluck Jonathan, then
the acting president.
The meeting was triggered by the sudden and unexpected return of Yar’Adua
to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia , where he had been near death in a medical facility
At this point Goodluck Jonathan gave the US representatives a all-inclusive
and thorough account of his plans to compel and make Yar’Adua, resignation, and to
become the interim president, then disband the cabinet and hold new elections. He
expressed his discussions and meeting with former presidents and military leaders
over how to convince Yar’ Adua to step down.
The American ambassador had encouraged the acting president to go ahead
with these plans despite the danger of regional tensions or a north-south split
within the country ruling elite since Yar’Adua, a northern, would, would be replaced
by a southern, Goodluck Jonathan.
While at this point Goodluck then agreed to allow the United States and
British to provide “technical assistance” for the proposed election next year in
2011—in other words, the transition would be supervised by the former colonial
master and the new neo-colonial boss.
To underscore the actual power relationship, Ambassador Sanders demanded
assurances that the current head of the Election commission would be removed, and
Goodluck pledged to “have him out a soon as next month.”
Overall, the cables from Nigeria give a picture of the relation between
Shell, the US embassy and the Nigerian government and Nigerian corruption, US
imperialism and their embassies and their role of enabling corporate interests over
the needs of the host population and the greed and arrogance of multinational
corporations to intervene in the internal polices of a country to gather their
stolen wealth, with the help and protection of the two formers.
For the people of the world, history is on our side, but, not time.