Photo: zieak via Flickr/CC BY
The US diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks have produced a wide swath of important information. From unflattering looks into the conduct of US policy, to revelations about the administration's blind eye towards environmental destruction, citizens have been provided with a rare behind the scenes glimpse of state power mechanics. One such revelation concerns the diplomatic grip that Shell Oil holds over the state of Nigeria -- it appears that the oil company has embedded itself deeply into every level of the corrupt, oppressive government. As you're likely aware, Nigeria is one of the world's foremost bearers of the 'oil curse' -- wherein the nation or region that has the supposed benefit of vast oil reserves, ends up all the more impoverished because of it. Despite the fact that Nigeria sits atop one of the largest, most valuable oil stocks in the world (it supplies the US with 8% of its oil), the vast majority of Nigerians -- 70% of the population -- lives below the poverty line.
And though there are numerous reasons that the capital accumulates only among the richest in the state -- corruption chief among them -- the grip that corporations, especially Shell, hold on the nation play a role as well.
The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.And one has to suspect that those corporate staffers embedded at "every level" of the Nigerian government aren't likely voting to support the Nigerian poor.
The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". She boasted that the Nigerian government had "forgotten" about the extent of Shell's infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.