Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) involves giving back to the community where a business organisation operates. CSR is not supposed to be an occasional activity but a strategy that should be integrated into the overall operational plan of companies, especially those involved in oil exploration in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Uncoordinated or misdirected CSR has often led to conflicts between oil companies and their host communities, resulting in hostility, kidnapping and vandalisation of oil installations, which has impacted negatively on the country’s economy. There is a dearth of literature on the relevance of CSR to conflict management in Beneku, Ekakpramre and Kokori communities of Delta state, Nigeria. Therefore, this study assessed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a Conflict Management Strategy in Selected Oil Producing Communities in Delta State, Nigeria.
Triangulation research design that combined survey and indepth interview was adopted in this study. The population of the study according to the 2006 census figures comprised 148,341 members of Beneku, Ekakpamre and Kokori communities in Delta State, Nigeria. Multi-stage sampling technique was adopted to select a sample of 345 respondents for the survey. The composite Crobach’s Alpha score for the questionnaire indicated an internal consistency score of 0.797 meaning it had a high internal consistency. Representatives of the communities and the oil companies were purposively chosen for the indepth interviews. Data were collected using validated questionnaire and interview guide. Quantitative data were analysed using frequency count, simple percentages, charts and linear regression analysis. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis to report responses to the interviews.
Findings of the study indicated that CSR had not improved the relationship between the oil companies and the oil producing communities (Average Weighted Mean=1.98; SD=0.94) and that CSR projects provided to the host communities were partially adequate (Mean=1.89, SD=1.21). Respondents also indicated that CSR was a moderately significant strategy for managing conflict in the oil producing communities of Delta State (Mean=2.15, SD=1.24), rating the management of crisis by oil companies in Delta Sate as moderately effective (Mean=1.70, SD=1.00). Results also showed that the effectiveness of CSR as a conflict management strategy in oil producing communities was low (Mean=1.85, SD=0.72) because respondents believed mostly that CSR projects were provided by oil companies after conflicts had started in the area (n=215, 63.6%). CSR was observed to have a significant effect on conflict management in oil producing communities, indicating a strong positive correlation coefficient and positive slope, which are statistically significant (β=0.744; B=0.358; p<0.05) as assessed by a t-test (T=20432).
The study concluded that there was no cordial relationship between the oil producing companies and their host communities, and CSR was not effectively handled as a conflict management strategy. The study recommended that oil companies should consult stakeholders widely and be proactive in implementing CSR projects in their host communities. The Federal government should also monitor the activities of the oil companies and directly intervene in the development of the area.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility (CSR), Conflict, Conflict Management, Oil producing communities, Mutual relationship
1.1 Background to the Study
All nations in the world survive by one means or the other. Some rely on tourism for survival, while others depend solely on agriculture. There are however some that are fortunate enough to be blessed with mineral resources such as oil and gas, which bring in a lot of revenue. At a time, Nigeria depended mainly on agricultural products like groundnut, cocoa, palm produce and others to survive. This was before the discovery of oil in 1956 at Olobiri in Rivers State. Today, the main sources of revenue to the country are oil and gas. The blessing also came with its attendant problems and these include environmental degradation, damage of economic crops and fish ponds, pollution of sources of drinking water and general hazards to the health of the people in the oil and gas producing areas.
According to Okoko and Nna (1998), oil and gas are the main energy sources in most industrialized countries in the world today, and by all standards Nigeria’s most economic resource, as it contributes about 90 percent of the country’s revenue. The Niger Delta with distribution of oil fields in the geo-political areas of Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers is the hub of the petroleum industry in Nigeria. Before the advent of oil and gas activities in the area, Niger Delta could boast of different agricultural and natural resources that sustained the economic life of the people. Whiteman (1982), observed that traditional medicine practice and subsistence occupations were common among the people.
Things have changed significantly, as the area has been engulfed in crisis of instability due to protests carried out by communities in these oil producing areas because of the influence of oil activities on the environment resulting into degradation of the environment, poverty and lack of social development and employment opportunities. Sometime in February and March 2001, the youths of four of the host communities barricaded the access roads leadings to Mobil Production Terminal, in Eket, Akwa-Ibom state in Nigeria. The youths’ reason for the action was that they were being marginalized in the company’s employment policies, contracts and services. The government, apart from the activities of the youths had also mobilized its machinery – legislature, executive, judiciary and the media against the company as reaction against degradation of the environment and other unfavourable activities of the companies.