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Last week, we published a list of 10 THINGS that CSR is not. To say we received a deluge of emails, is to state the obvious.

First, let’s make it clear that CSR is more than a program. It forms the core principles of how a company does business: Corporate interests aligned with the best interests for the community and the environment. It is commonly called the 3 P’s or the triple bottom-line: People, Planet and Profit. The problem is that businesses/organisations believe that CSR is cause marketing, charity and/or philanthropy. Our task at ThistlePraxis Consulting is to overrule that and teach them that it is actually about business strategy.

 We will take time to explain further on each of the 10 THINGS. Here are the first two:

  1. Sponsorship

Sponsorship and CSR do not mean the same thing. For instance, sponsoring a conference or training does not really deal with any major issues faced by the company or society at large. The benefits to society are largely aesthetic and intellectual satisfaction. Does the company gain anything in long-term benefits? A lot of PR and advertising space, for sure, but I’m not sure what else. Whilst many organizations regard sponsorship of such property and/or platforms as CSR, CSR cuts way beyond exchange of value for mileage to both internal and external activities of the organization. Sponsorship is a company providing financial contribution to an event or program.  In return, the event or program (sponsee) uses its marketing and communications tools to promote a company’s involvement and support of the cause.

  • Cause Marketing

Think of cause marketing as a more sophisticated level of corporate sponsorship. Cause Marketing can be defined as a mutually beneficial business and non-profit partnership that sees a company put the power of its brand and marketing behind the cause to generate profits for both.    In cause marketing, the company uses the cause as the focus of its marketing tactics. Think the traditional 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, promotion and place.  Product ties to a cause.  Price includes a donation or percentage to the cause.  Promotion focuses on the cause connection.  Place reaches consumers in an untraditional way and place with cause messages often supported by in-store point of purchase advertising. The company’s expectation is that it will directly earn profits from the affiliation.


The Many Sides of the Unresolved Bonga Oil Spill.

What went wrong?

On the 20th of December, 2011; a spill occurred at the Bonga Oil Field which is operated by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO). Crude oil production capacity from Bonga Field reportedly hovers around 200,000 barrels per day. The spill area reportedly covered more than 923 square kilometres and no lesser than 40,000 barrels of crude had spilled into the Atlantic Ocean. Since then, so many media reports have heralded this development amidst many claims by the inhabitants of Odioma and other coastal communities in Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor Local Government councils, including Bisangbene, Letugbene, Agge and Ogulagha, Odimodi, in Delta State and counter claims by representatives of SNEPCO and Shell Nigeria.


SPDC spokesperson, Mr. Precious Okolobo remarked that the spill did not get to the shores of the coastal community. According to him, “the oil was largely dispersed by Sunday, December 25, 2011 due to natural processes of dispersion, spreading and evaporation and the integrated efforts of SNEPCO, government and our industry partners…oil disperses naturally through evaporation and bio-degradation. Dispersants speed up natural dispersion. Main benefits are that they remove concentrated oil from water surface and disperse oil into the water column where it naturally degrades”.

In summary, Shell insists that the oil on the beach is not from Bonga as they have made significant progress every day to disperse the oil that leaked from Bonga. The images in circulation are those of a third party spill which appeared to be from a vessel in the middle of an area that Shell had previously cleaned up.

On the flip side, the Country Chair of Shell, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu said, “I am very sorry the leak from Bonga happened in the first place, but am now happy to confirm the oil has dispersed. This could not have been done without the support of local and national government officials, who enabled our teams to mobilize quickly and start to tackle the oil almost immediately.” With these remarks, is Shell Nigeria or SNEPCO taking responsibility whilst officials of both companies claim it was a third party spillage?

And the government’s response?

The Senate committee on Environment & Ecology responded that Shell Nigeria has not been exonerated from the pollution. The House of Representatives had mandated its Committees on Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Environment and Niger Delta Ministry to visit, inspect and evaluate the cause and effect of the spill on the ecosystem of the neighbouring communities and ascertain the extent of clean-up of the spill. It has also urged Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) and her Joint Venture Partners to take full responsibility for the Bonga oil spill in all ramifications instead of passing the buck.

Other parties

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), through the Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi tasked the management of Shell on what it called poor response to the cleaning of the spill and described it as “short of national and international standards”.


However, the Minister of the Environment, Hajia Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia, estimated the clean up would last for at least six weeks, when she led a team of ministry and agencies representatives to visit Bonga. This was reportedly done in only a few days.

In response, Shell Nigeria claimed that the speed of response made the difference. On noticing oil sheen on the surface of the water around the Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offloading on December 20th, 2011, the export lines were shut down thereby stopping the flow of oil. A Country Crisis Team swung into action working with the emergency response centres in Lagos and Warri who were in 24hr connection with another support team at the group offices in The Hague.

The third parties who supported in the response efforts include: Clean Nigeria Associate, ExxonMobil, NOAC, DPR, and NOSDRA. In addition, a UK-based Oil Spill Response team flew in with a Hercules aircraft, assisted by another plane from Ghana, which sprayed dispersants on the oil along with five seaborne vessels. At the same time, booms to stop the spread of the oil and skimmers to recover spilled oil were deployed.

Editor’s Note:

The citizens of Nigeria, especially Niger Deltans await the peaceful and sustainable resolution of this crisis. Henceforth, we submit that the Federal Government should ensure a proper disaster response and management framework for oil spillage and other environmental hazards in Nigeria.

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