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Queen of the Netherlands —Nigeria’s nightmare

Letter from Ayoka Lawani published by The Nation on 6 Nov 2017

SIR: Recently Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited Nigeria. While there, according to reports, she spoke vigorously about the merits of mobile money. What she came to do on behalf of the UN is not the topic here.

It is who she is that should be the business of all Nigerians. She is married to King Wilhem Alexander of the Netherlands whose mother, former Queen Beartrix  ( who abdicated for Alexander in 2013) is the single largest shareholder of the Shell Company. This makes Queen Maxima a major owner of Shell.

Shell as we Nigerians all know was until recently the only prospector and seller of the Nigerian oil.

What Maxima should show us is what major contribution  their company had made to the Nigerian development outside of what is legally ours to take ( like taxes allegedly paid).

Yes, Shell do award scholarships, and sponsor music halls. This is token. History has it that Shell started work in Nigeria in 1937. In 1956 Shell Nigeria discovered oil in Oloibiri and started exporting that oil in 1958 nearly 60years ago! Yes, for 60 years the Dutch royal family has fed fat on our weary backs.

What Queen Maxima should do while  in Nigeria was to see how her royal family can on its own build for the people of the Niger Delta roads and bridges, institute places of learning to be named ( if they so desire) the Royal Dutch University of Petroleum and International Finance for example, well run secondary schools in the mould of Comprehensive High School Aiyetoro Ogun State which was built and run for us for many years by Harvard University in the USA.  We should see a network of at least four-lane roads and bridges transversing the  length and breath of the Niger Delta. And the most urgent restitution by Shell is clearing the massive pollution in the Niger Delta and its areas of operation without having the people litigate on it. It is a moral imperative. By rendering Niger Delta land useless, Shell committed crimes against humanity.

When the spill by BP ( Shell’s former partners) happened in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, that company paid the sum of $61.6 billion to the affected people, institutions and the US government. In Nigeria we are expected to clean up Shell’s mess because we are told that they pay taxes. In the BP spill, what the company paid did not come from taxes to the US federal government.

Indeed there had been demonstrations even by the Dutch people against the operations of the Shell company of the Dutch Royal Family in general.

Queen Maxima (inheritor of Beatrix fortune) owe the people of the Niger Delta in particular where those people have been impoverished by Shell and to Nigeria in general. We do not need talk about mobile money. That is not urgent for Nigerians. The clear and present danger is the hunger that is ravaging the land, it is the righteous restiveness of the Niger Delta people which does not augur well for our country.

Maxima and her family should in major ways help alleviate the sufferings of Nigerians. This is what we need. Not another business venture. She should not come to us as an agent of mobile money companies.

  • Ayoka Lawani, Women for Development and Leadership, Ibadan.


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