Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nigeria: Chevron Shareholders and Executives Greeted by Protesters from Across the Globe


San Ramon — San Ramon, CA, Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting today became a referendum on the company’s global operating practices, with hundreds rallying outside the meeting against the oil giant’s environmental and human rights record, and representatives of Chevron affected communities inside the meeting speaking directly to the company’s senior executives, board of directors and key shareholders. Present were representatives or allies from communities in Nigeria, Burma, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Iraq, Canada, the Philippines and Richmond, California.

Inside the meeting Tunde Okorodudu, a pro-democracy activist and former Senatorial candidate for Delta South, in the Niger Delta of Nigeria pronounced powerfully, “what is bad for my people is also bad for business. Communities where Chevron extracts oil have made it known to the company for many years that they were suffering as a result of Chevron’s operations. When villagers ask for jobs, environmental remediation for pollution the company caused, electricity, investment in education and healthcare and environmental audits and mitigations, Chevron responded with minimal investments in community projects that have not dented the community needs.”

“Chevron has known for years that an insurgency was building among frustrated residents of the Niger Delta as a result of the lack of development and environmental harms caused by oil development,” said Okorodudu. “And now, the company’s practices in the Niger Delta have contributed to harm their bottom line, with the attack yesterday of a major oil pipeline in Abiteyeye, which the Wall Street Journal reports reduced Chevron’s output by 100,000 barrels per day.” The company’s 10k report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2009 states that its Nigeria oil production for 2008 was 154,000 barrels per day. This means that the current instability has reduced the company’s production by almost two thirds.

Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now said “Chevron has a responsibility to its shareholders. In order to ensure security and stability for its operations the company must step up and promote development and adequate living standards in the communities from which they are making their profits.”

In addition, Okorodudu addressed the current humanitarian crisis in the Delta stemming from the Nigerian military’s attacks in Delta and Rivers State which have uprooted and displaced villagers, with reports of civilian deaths and starvation as a result. Okorodudu declared “the company must end its relationship with the notoriously brutal Nigerian military. As a 40% partner with the Nigerian government it must bear some responsibility for the destructive actions by the military and its brutal and notorious Joint Task Force (JTF)”.

Outside the meeting protestors carried colorful placards parodying Chevron’s Human Energy advertisements with beautiful photos of a Nigerian villager that read “I will give my baby contaminated water: Chevron refuses to clean up its mess in Nigeria” and another with a photo of a Nigerian boy reading ”I will continue fishing even though the fish are gone: Chevron pollutes fresh water in Nigeria.”

The coalition of groups and Chevron affected communities yesterday released an alternative annual report and a series of parody ads that address the company’s worldwide issues.

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