Letter: Shell Nigeria: an inside view

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The Independent Online
I am the corporate spokesperson "quoted" in Anita Roddick's column (16 February). The "quote" came from an article in Harpers magazine. If Ms Roddick had looked at the next edition she would have seen that Brian Anderson, managing director of Shell Nigeria, strongly repudiated it. I actually said the exact opposite of my "quote". I said that frequent changes of government had resulted in fundamental shifts in economic policy and had created an unstable and unpredictable business environment. My point was that, notwithstanding such problems, long-term investors like Shell had shown their commitment to Nigeria by continuing to invest.

This is not the first time Ms Roddick has attacked Shell, nor is it the first time that it has been necessary to correct what she has said. She is not content to accuse Shell of environmental degradation. Now Shell is all but accused of the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Curiously however, Ms Roddick pictures what has happened from Shell's point of view primarily in public relations terms. Our primary concern is substance. I am a Nigerian. I have worked in Nigeria for most of my working life. I know what is happening there. I know the enormous efforts made by many people to improve things and the hundreds of millions of dollars Shell Nigeria has spent on the environment and community projects. Shell Nigeria does not, as she puts it, have a profit-uber-alles approach.

Emeka Achebe

Shell International Limited