Stakeholders and industry watchers have applauded the Macro Conflict Risk Impact Assessment (M-CRIA) Tool as the best approach to investing in the Nigeria oil and gas sector, given the country’s peculiar circumstances.
At a two day Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Media Training Workshop on ‘Strategies for Reducing Corruption that Fuels Conflict in Oil and Gas Sector and on the use of the M-CRIA Tool held recently at the Protea Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos, the tool was deemed the best approach to investing in the oil and gas sector.
M-CRIA is a Conflict Sensitive Business Practices (CSBP) adapted tool for understanding challenges with bankability and host community engagement in Nigeria. The framework helps investors approach communities in a manner that does not create or aggravate conflict by predicting viable methodologies for mitigating conflict and engaging with host community issues. The M-CRIA can also help support the “do no harm” approach to natural resource management.
The approach comes in light of the fact that over the years, the Niger Delta region has been enmeshed in one violent conflict and another. Often times, these skirmishes have resulted in a stalling or total abandonment of developmental projects intended for the area.
In a recent study using the M-CRIA framework, it was discovered that corruption has largely contributed to fomenting and sustaining conflicts in the Niger Delta region. The study also showed that the continued violence in the Niger Delta region flows more from the activities of ‘conflict entrepreneurs’ who mobilize violence in their quest to monopolize illicit rents. Trend analysis also suggests the emergence of conflict follows similar trajectories and timelines.
Third-party manipulation of the process by the aforementioned actors, for selfish aggrandizement, is prevalent even at the detriment of planned projects. These seemingly intractable corrupt practices are found in the activities of the host communities, government and private investor.
Speaking at the two day workshop, Mr.(his first name) Ogbeifun of AfriTAL said that Corruption and bad leadership have been the bane of Africa’s development. “Our focus therefore, is to partner with social development partners in government, non- governmental organizations, and the private sector in the advocacy for good governance to fight against corruption and reverse the penchant for looting the treasuries by leaders entrusted with the peoples’ commonwealth at the local, state and national levels, reduce and if possible eliminate corruption generated conflicts and individual rent seeking adventures by conflict entrepreneurs. It is in this light that AfriTAL encourages anti corruption activities through disciplined advocacy methods in order to restore good governance for the good of mankind,” he said.
Ogbeifun stressed that the workshop was unique and apt because corruption and conflict have led to divestments from the Oil and Gas host communities, abandoned projects, setting the people against the government and brothers against brothers. “If these continue, our economy and social development programmes would continue to suffer, he added.”
He gave example of Nigeria having enormous hydrocarbon potentials but paradoxically has been unable to properly harness its gas benefits as a money-spinner domestically.
Some of the reasons for this inability to turn the oil and gas industry around for the good of the people stream from, according to Ogbeifun, corruption, which stimulates conflicts for selfish and rent seeking reasons in oil and gas industry and host communities; policy somersaults, which cause inability to envision the future and act, as well as selfish and rent seeking paradigms. He also cited misplaced priorities and complacency on the part of several actors that should have taken a frontal lead in the fight against corruption as well as lack of proper understanding of the direct correlations between corruption and conflicts; and the devastating effects on the host communities and the nation as a whole.