The Niger Delta

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What you need to know for a successful business in the Niger Delta

So you have decided to do business in the Niger Delta, eh? You have weighed the options and concluded that the benefits outweigh the turbulence in the region. Of course, violence is not restricted to the Niger Delta alone, it is even worse in most other places.
If your answer is yes, then I will assume that you have made all the preliminary business arrangements; you have gotten a Nigerian partner and have confirmed that (s)he is not a fraud and have registered with the Nigerian investment promotion commission. (contact the Nigerian embassy in your country for further details)

In addition to the preliminaries, there are some basic things you need to know and apply to achieve what you want in the Niger Delta, some of these are;

  • Get a Reliable Local Liaison

Of course you have a Nigerian partner and you have been assured of his expertise and experience in your area of investment, but in most cases, these partners are not resident in the Niger Delta region and may not fully understand the intricacies of loyalties and allegiance. Make sure your local partner has hired a Community Liaison Officer that understands the domestic politics, has access to the community and youth organizations and will be able to broker a lasting deal. In addition, don't get a CLO without the approval of the community leaders and youth organizations.

  • Come with a human face

If you read articles on the Niger Delta, especially from this blog, you will understand that the Niger Delta is really deprived and under-developed and that the inhabitants need more of your empathy than your money.

You have to show a genuine understanding for their situation and make plans to accommodate your required contributions.

  • Don't Over-Estimate the Police

The Nigerian police is doing its best to protect people, and maintain law and order. However, it will not be advisable to believe that they have all the control over the Niger Delta at this time.

  • Settle the Youths

Youth organizations in the Niger Delta have evolved over the years into a formidable force. What do you expect when unemployment rate is high and there is much neglect.

Ultimately, it will not be wise for an investor to neglect them!

Get in touch with their representatives, liaise with them, settle them

After all, they may be the ones to kidnap or cause trouble for you, not the government.

  • Try dialogue first, before...

In the past few years there has not been a very friendly relationship between the Nigeria Armed Forces and Communities in this region. Consequently, the natives tend to perceive companies that opt for military involvement as being high-handed and the result may have unpleasant ramifications.

In moments of turbulence, don't be in a hurry to get military security, try to get the State government, community heads, youth leaders and other stake holders to settle the scuffle.

  • Learn the Nigerian Pidgin English

The Nigerian people have evolved a form of English language that is easily understood and spoken by them as a panacea for communication amid diverse ethnic languages and as leverage for non-literates that may not fully understand the formal English language. Understanding this form of English will facilitate easy and direct community relations.

Well, That's that. I hope it doesn't scare you. as you will find out, the Niger Delta is still one of the best places for business and vacation in the world.

Having spent almost all my life here, I am writing this from personal experience and observations and from discussion with youths in the region. of course, this is not all you need for success. That depends, among other things, on your business plans and intentions. But if you get to the roots of things and observe these few tips, you are not likely to stray from your target.

Sorry, one more thing...

Don't think your country or the Nigerian government can always protect you.



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