Barigbon Gbara Nsereka, Ph.D and Uchechukwu Odum, Department of Mass Communication, Rivers State University
Aroused by the perennial breakdown of communication between host communities and International Oil Companies (IOCs) in the Niger Delta, this study was carried out to examine the extent Schlumberger Nigeria Limited applies folk media in its community relations activities in Oginigba community, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area, Rivers State. The aim was to determine the folk communication channels used by Schlumberger in communicating community relations messages to the people and to investigate possible strengths and weaknesses of the application of folk media in the community relations practices by the company. The study which was a survey complemented with an in-depth interview with Schlumberger personnel, drew a sample of 392 from a population of 19,167 through the Taro Yamane formula. Data gathered through the questionnaire were analysed using tables and weighted mean scores. Findings showed that Town criers/chiefs and elders, Community Liaison Officer and townhall/town square meetings are the major channels used by Schlumberger to communicate messages to the people of Oginigba. Since the local language is used in that community, members are used to the folk media through which messages are effective. While the study concluded that adopting folk media in community relations practice will foster participation and cordiality as well as help address raging social and economic issues, it recommended that the Community Relations unit of Schlumberger should be more involved in community activities. It also recommended that regular town-hall meetings should be conducted to enable Schlumberger to continually gauge the public perception of its activities as well as conduct need assessment to enable the company to frontally address community needs.
Keywords: Folk media, Schlumberger, Oginigba, Community relations, Obio- Akpor, Town- criers/chiefs.