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Urowayino Warami

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Learning to swim without getting wet

HE National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas  Workers, NUPENG, one of the most militant unions in African labour history, last week marked its fortieth anniversary. Back in 1994 when the military held Nigeria in vile grip, NUPENG sent out a call for the unions to rescue the country. The regime of General Sani Abacha was particularly brutish, nasty and bloody. It was a dictatorship that had no rules, respected none and included the bombing of buses especially those conveying soldiers, as part of governance. Not surprisingly, other unions including the central labour organisation, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, chickened out.

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SPDC: Esau’s hand and Jacob’s Voice

THE Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, manifests ambivalence in its dealings with the people of the Niger Delta region where it has explored and exploited crude oil for six decades beginning in 1956 when it struck fortune in Oloibiri. Shell (as SPDC) is generally and sometimes fondly called among the people of the Niger Delta region has become a significant index in the consciousness of the people. Shell registered its presence in many communities where it found oil and turned their fortunes around for good or for ill, but more of the later. Shell lubricated the economy of capitalist Europe, but turned our homelands, from Oloibiri to Olomoro, Ogoni to Ugono, Uzere to Evwreni, and many more into empty shells. However, as part of Shell’s ambivalent manifestation of fortune and misfortune, it also had a salutary effect on the region by way of boosting the local economy, creating new jobs and accelerating urbanisation.

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