How democratic is community driven development? A focus on SPDC global memorandum of understanding (GMoU) in the Niger Delta Region, Nigeria
AbstractThe wave of democratic values as a behavioural frame of reference in all sectors of society has gone a long way to show its acceptability far beyond the realm of politics as the best possible way to organize human activities albeit a minimal level of social bias. However, long years of undemocratic development approach by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria led to significant social risks precipitated by a complex interplay of issues. To stem the resurgent outcry as a result of obvious negative human development realities in the region, SPDC introduced its Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) as a community driven development platform. This paper examines the SPDC GMoU in the Niger Delta with a view to ascertaining whether it meets the values of democracy or not. Thus, relying on in-depth content analysis and secondary data from SPDC and GMoU clusters‘ archives, the paper submits that the GMoU is a significant deviation from the authoritarian cum top-to-bottom philosophy that characterised the pre-GMoU development approaches of SPDC. It further argues that the GMoU embodies the basic tenets of community driven development and democracy which is that of popular participation, representation and improved community involvement in development. The result of this, is increasing fulfilment of historical development promises by SPDC, widespread implementation of new community development projects and programmes in the GMoU regions, less deferment caused by youth restiveness in GMoU areas when compared to non-GMoU areas in the same region. Based on this, the paper concludes that the GMoU represents a significant change in the way that SPDC carries out social investment activities in the region and this has generated laudable benefits for communities on the one hand and business (SPDC) on the other hand.
Keywords: Democracy, Community driven development, Global Memorandum of Understanding, SPDC, Niger Delta
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