Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Poverty Alleviation through Corporate Social Responsibility in Niger Delta, Nigeria

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Poverty Alleviation through Corporate Social Responsibility in Niger Delta, Nigeria

Article excerpt

Abstract

Failed government's policies aimed at developing the Niger Delta region left it one of the poorest regions of Nigeria; and necessitated agitations by the communities for oil multinationals to step in to fill this development gap. Through the company's corporate social responsibility, Shell Petroleum Developing Company - the Nigerian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell has demonstrated commitments to the reduction of poverty in the region. The paper examines some of the company's poverty alleviation projects in the region. Using a qualitative approach, drawing on relevant secondary data and content analysis the paper argues that Shell has contributed immensely to the development of local communities in its areas of operation and also contributed to the economic growth of Nigeria. However, given the vast majority of the region's population living in poverty, the paper advises that government should complement the efforts of Shell both in the region and across the country using massive wealth generated for the government by the oil company.

Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, Poverty alleviation, Niger Delta, Shell petroleum developing company, Corruption

1. Introduction

Despite being rich in natural resources, the prevalence of poverty is very high in Nigeria, with over 70 percent of the population surviving on less than US$1 per day, meaning that most Nigerians are living in excruciating poverty (Omideyi, 2009). This soaring incidence of poverty is in sharp contrast to the country's position as a prominent petroleum producing country in the continent. Over 90 percent of Nigeria's external revenues are derived from crude oil exports; yet this huge profit has yet to improve the deplorable human condition and misery index of the oil producing communities (Orogun, 2009). Idemudia (2007) argued that neglect of basic services in the Niger Delta in past years by successive Nigerian governments enshrined poverty in the region.

Over the years, Nigeria has adopted several poverty alleviation programmes, aimed at alleviating or eradicating poverty; yet, the nation's oil wealth has done little to improve the life of the poor population due to corruption, political instability, weak administration, poor macroeconomic management, and bad governance (Oshewolo, 2010). Consequently, poverty has remained a pervasive problem in the Nigerian society, and with a much more devastating dimension in the Niger Delta region where unemployment, underdevelopment and squalor are stacking realities of daily living for most of the people (Chukuezi, 2009). This development gap has led to the reliance on the oil multinational companies (MNCs) by their host communities to step in and fill this wide development gap. Despite their contribution to the development of society, governments at all levels in Nigeria and the political elites continue to apportion blame on the MNCs for the poverty situation in the region; with such culture of blame inciting the community members into believing that the MNCs are massively exploiting them, while giving too little or nothing in return to them in the form of development (Ite, 2005). This has occasioned community protests, agitations and conflicts in the region.

The paper critically evaluates corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes of Shell Petroleum Developing Company (SPDC) aimed at developing local communities of the Niger Delta area of Nigeria. It argues that SPDC has contributed enormously to local community development as a way of addressing poverty, but their efforts are constrained by factors which are political and social.

2. Theoretical framework

The paper is guided by the triple bottom Line theory. The theory is most suitable to the paper, having been extensively used in several related studies. It illustrates the MNCs' involvement in community development as a responsibility to the community based on stakeholders' relationship that benefits host communities and business. …

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