Nigerian Groups

Info & Resources

Who is Essential Action?
They drill. They kill. Divest NOW!

The case for action! A Nigerian Divestment Campaign: the Moment has arrived, by Oronto Douglas of Nigeria's Environmental Rights Action (ERA) and Daphne Wysham of Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN).

Stop University and institutional support of Royal Dutch/Shell and other companies operating in Nigeria (Chevron, Mobil, Agip).

Selective Purchasing. YOU can make your country, state, city, and university boycott Royal Dutch/Shell by not buying their products. Create Policy!

Return to Action!

Divestment! End University support for Shell!

University divestment campaigns played a vital role in the anti-apartheid struggle, and are a valuable tool for affecting change in multinational corporations. Divestment campaigns involve persuading your university to sell its stock in a particular company as a way of demonstrating disapproval of the company's business practices. Universities often have large endowments that they invest in hundreds of companies (including Shell!), usually without your knowledge. Donít let university adminstration (and by default YOU) continue to support Shell's atrocities!

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies is headed by two companies, which are traded separately on stock markets like the New York Stock Exchange. If you look at prices on the exchange, you'll see "RoylDut" (Royal Dutch Petroleum Company) and "ShellTr" (Shell Transport and Trading Company). Royal Dutch stock is from the Dutch corporation that owns 60% of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Shell Transport and Trading Company stock is for the British corporation that owns 40% of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Many schools own stock in either of these corporations, which together oversee Shell Nigeria and Shell Oil of the United States. None of Royal Dutch/Shell's U.S. subsidiaries are traded publicly, so your school won't own stock in Shell Oil, only in its parent companies.

Some universities disclose their investment portfolios to their students, and some are more protective about releasing that information. If your university discloses the names of corporations it invests in, you're in luck! If your university does not, you're in the majority-- but don't give up! There are many ways to get this information. The first is going directly to your university budget/accounting/trustee/investment offices and asking for help. Each university is structured differently, but you'll quickly figure out where to go for the information. Write to your board of trustees, explaining your concern and asking that they investigate their investments. Be persuasive! If they still don't disclose their corporations, at public universities you can file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) form, and they are required to disclose it. Many times, you will find that university administrations have NO IDEA which corporations the school invests in because the investments are sometimes handled by other groups. By investing indiscriminately, the university usually ends up financially supporting corporations with heinous practices.

If they have over $100 million in domestically traded securities, institutions (including all universities) are required to file their stock holdings with the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C. Suprisingly enough, many universities fall into this catagory. This is public information from the SEC. To find out what your school owns, contact the Public Reference Branch of the SEC (phone: 202.942.8090, fax: 202.628.9001) and request that the 13F documents for your school be mailed or faxed to you. (Note: the stock listings may be listed as the name of the university, or as the "Trustees of ..... University"). The SEC will then forward your request to a subcontractor (one of them is Disclosure, Inc.) which finds the information and copies it at 28¢ per page. This can end up being very expensive and time consuming, so we recommend that you ask the SEC who will be handling your request, and that you then keep in contact with the subcontractor so they know exactly what information you need and don't let it sit around for too long.Set a cap for how much you are willing to spend for this information. We suggest that you team up with others at your school who are curious about the investment activity of your university, such as the Free Burma Coalition, so that you can split the costs and the calling. If you hit a brick wall and have tried to get your information from your university, or it looks like you will go over your cap for finding the information, please contact us and we will see how we can work together.

Once you know whether your university invests in Royal Dutch and/or Shell Trade and Transport, you can pressure the university to drop its stock and invest responsibly! To bring attention to your campaign, use actions like petition drives, protests, letter writing campaigns, public events on Shell in Nigeria, or whatever you feel will draw attention and support to your efforts to ending the financial support for multinational oil corporations with horrifying environmental and human rights issues. We also suggest sending out press releases about your university's investment in Shell, and Shell's atrocities in Nigeria every time you take action or organize an event.

Another tactic is to convince your university to propose or support shareholder resolutions calling for an investigation into Shell's activities in Ogoniland, the release of the Ogoni 20, and public apologies for Shell's unabashed exploitation of the environment and human rights across the world. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has lots of information about stockholder resolutions: how to know when good resolutions have been proposed, or how to introduce one and build allies in your fight to influence stockholder opinion and actions. They also have a book called the Proxy Resolutions Book, a compiliation of all shareholder resolutions which are coming up during the year.

Divestment campaign contacts:

Securities and Exchange Commission
(202) 942-8090

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility   (212) 870-2296
    Room 550
    475 Riverside Dr
    New York, NY 10115


Selective Purchasing! Stop your city/university from buying Shell products!

Convincing your university and/or city to boycott Shell products makes an impact on businesses, like Shell, which disregard the importance of human rights and the environment. "Selective Purchasing" policies like this can have an even larger impact when other schools and cities join in the boycott and can leave a mark on Shell's sales. Selective Purchasing policies on businesses operating in Nigeria are already in place in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. These are some ideas for how to change your university/city in order to change Shell.

You will first need to determine who has the power to decide what products are bought by your university. In some rare cases, student government bodies hold enough power to do this. More often, you will have to work with your administration to develop a decree explaining why they won't purchase Shell products. Ask around in the Budget office, the Purchasing office and the President's office. You will need to convince these people that, even if other products are slightly more expensive, not buying Shell products is the right thing to do. Insist on a binding statement, not just statement of preference. You will even need them to help you, so don't make quick enemies! Diplomacy is key in such discussions.

You will also have to make friends in the Purchasing department to insure that any policy agreed to by your administration is actually enforced, otherwise it will be merely a symbolic victory (although these are important too!).

If you want to get a student government resolution passed, you will probably need a sponsor within the government. Once you have found someone willing to sponsor the resolution, work with them on writing something they think will appeal to other representatives. Make sure you talk to the other representatives before the resolution is formally presented, to give them information and see what questions they have.