An Analysis of Social Accountability in the Nigerian Petroleum Sector


Nigeria is the largest producer of oil in Africa, and its oil sector accounts for approximately two-thirds of the country’s revenue. The Niger Delta is the backbone of the petroleum sector, as most of the hydrocarbons extracted are situated in the region.

Despite its wealth in resources, the Niger Delta is severely underdeveloped and there is well publicized evidence that some Multinational Oil Companies (MOCs) operating in the Delta are involved in practices which adversely affect the lives of the region’s residents, in particular those from minority communities.

In the concept of public policy, the concept of ‘Social Accountability’ generally concerns actions and mechanisms that can be taken and utilized by the citizens to hold the State and other key actors including the MOCs, accountable.

The predominant concept used in this research to gauge and properly explore what exactly it entails to be socially accountable is that of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR). This research considers to what extent the institutional and constitutional frameworks and MOC approaches to social accountability actually follow the structures of that concept, and in turn, evaluate their CSR.

Using the four elements of CSR; (i) Transparency and Accountability, (ii)Community Development, (iii)Stakeholder Engagement, and (iv) Sustainability, this paper shall analyze the current Social Accountability approaches made by the Federal Government of Nigeria (Federal Government) and the MOCs in Nigeria, specifically those operating in the Niger Delta. Using a qualitative methodology, this dissertation analyzes the CSR concept and what it entails, again in a Niger Delta context. Desk analysis is applied to Nigeria’s policy and legal framework concerning social accountability in its upstream petroleum sector.

The purpose of this research is to determine whether the current level of social accountability that exists in the Nigerian upstream petroleum sector, regarding the communities of the Niger Delta, is sufficient in protecting these communities. In sum, the findings of this research dissertation is that they are insufficient.