COMMUNITY RELATIONS: A CATALYST FOR DEVELOPMENT IN UMUECHEM OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITY IN ETCHE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF RIVERS STATE
Keywords:Community Relations, Catalyst, Oil Producing Communities, Development.
The study aimed to examine the community relations policies of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Umuechem community of Rivers State as a catalyst for the development of the oil producing community in Rivers State. Part of the objectives of this study are to ascertain the rate at which community relations policies of (SPDC) has stimulated the development of Umuechem community in Etche Local Government Area in Rivers State and to identify the challenges of the community relations handlers of SPDC in their relationship with Umuechem community in Etche L. G. A., Rivers State, etc. The study is underpinned by the stakeholder’s theory of public relations. The study adopted survey research design using census sampling technique. It sampled fifty four (54) members of the indigenes of Umuechem community consisting of the executive council of the community development committee, youth bodies and women group. Questionnaire was used as the research instrument as well as the instrument of data collection. Out of the fifty four copies of the questionnaire distributed, fifty copies were retrieved and upon which the data were presented and analysed. Consequently, the study found among others that community relations policies of SPDC have not lived up to its expectations as the host community do not feel the impact of its policies. The study concluded that it is not only the oil multinational companies alone that should be blamed for the under-development of the oil producing companies in Rivers State, but the host communities need to be blamed for lack of transparency in the management of Global Memorandum of Understanding which is designed to help in the development of the oil producing communities. Also, the study recommends among others that the community relations policies of SPDC should be over hauled holistically to give room for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act which is meant to serve as a bond between the oil production companies and the oil producing communities in Niger Delta and Nigeria at large.