Execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-defendants – Statement by SPDC Managing Directror Brian Anderson
Note: This statement is difficult to find on the web. Several sites, which had this statement available for viewing, have removed it. We include it below. Unfortunately, we are not sure where the paragraph breaks were in the original letter and so we have made our best guess.
Shell Nigeria remains firmly committed to the long-term future of the country and its people. We believe our most useful role is helping Nigeria overcome its economic problems and creating wealth that will give the people of Nigeria a better living standard and open up for them more options for progress and development. We will continue to try to perform this role with efficiency and integrity and without becoming involved in politics.
Calls by some for Shell to ‘pull out’ of Nigeria are not helpful. This would not hurt the Nigerian economy because Nigerian Shell staff, who make up 97 per cent of our workforce would have to continue oil operations or face extreme sanctions. The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Project is of long- term benefit to Nigeria because it will create more than 6,000 jobs during construction and a significant number of jobs later on, which is particularly important in the delta region where employment levels are very low. No revenues will accrue from this project until the end of the decade.
The project is also very important to the environment. The plant will process increasing amounts of gas currently flared in the Delta during oil production. Gas flaring is a major environmental concern of ours and the national and international community. The opportunity to do something to significantly reduce Nigeria’s flared gas has come now. To stop the project would probably result in a very long delay and mean we will continue flaring a lot more gas well into the 21st century. Shell Nigeria is working hard on a programme of environmental improvements to its operations which are now well underway. This year we are spending more than US $100 million on environmental programmes and this level of spending will continue for some time to come.
We have never denied that there are some environmental problems connected with our operation and we are committed to dealing with them. However; we totally reject accusations of devastating Ogoni land or the Niger Delta. This has been dramatised out of all proportion. The total land we have acquired for operations to build our facilities, flowlines, pipelines and roads comes to just 0.3 per cent of the Niger Delta. In Ogoni land we have acquired just 0.7 per cent of the land area. These are very small figures that put the scale of our Niger Delta operations firmly in perspective.
We believe significant environmental problems in the delta are caused by other factors, such as rising population, deforestation and over farming. However; we are aware that there are very few facts available for informed debate and to decide how best to manage the needs for resource development and for sustaining the ecosystem of the Niger Delta. That is why we launched, and are helping to fund, a comprehensive and independent environmental survey of the Niger Delta area. This survey is under way and will begin delivering data in about six months’ time.
We are concerned about, and sympathise with, many of the grievances felt by the people of the oil producing Niger Delta and we commend the recent endorsement of the Constitutional Conference’s proposal to increase to 13 per cent the allocation of revenue to states from which natural resources are produced. From our side, we continue our own policy of social investment and this year we are spending more than US $20 million on roads, clinics, schools, scholarships, water schemes and agricultural support projects to help the people of the Niger Delta. During the MOSOP campaign we have also been accused of colluding with the military to subdue the Ogoni’s campaign for a better deal. This charge is totally false and the facts, where they do not suit the agenda of some activists, have often been distorted or ignored. We withdrew all staff in January 1993 from Ogoni land in the face of increasing intimidation and attacks from some members of MOSOP. Since then we have repeatedly and publicly stated we had no plans to move back into the area and restart production and that we would return only when we are assured of the co-operation and support of all the Ogoni communities. In addition we stressed we would not return behind guns. This has been known to MOSOP and the government for a long time.
We have no links with the military and have repeatedly spoken out against violence by all parties. Following the sentencing to death for murder of Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others at the Ogoni Civil Disturbances Tribunal, Shell appealed for clemency to the Head of State on humanitarian grounds. Our view was that a commutation of the death sentence would have helped towards the process of ultimate reconciliation in Ogoni land. It was not a comment on the proceedings of the tribunal. We believe as a multinational company that to interfere in such processes, whether political or legal, in any country would be wrong. We believe the time has come for dialogue and reconciliation. We welcome the sentiments of reflection and reconciliation recently expressed by Ken Wiwa in London. We are prepared to contribute to the debate, and to take positive action with the agreement and support of all the people of Ogoni land.