News emerged recently that Nigeria’s government has resumed cash payments for former militants in the Niger Delta in a bid to end attacks on oil and gas facilities in the region.
Will it work? In my opinion, probably not.
The situation in the Niger Delta is pretty complex. Things are so jumbled that it’s not clear if the payments are even going to the right people.
On its official website, www.nigerdeltaavengers.org, the NDA has said nothing about an agreed deal yet and repeatedly stated that opposing groups are masquerading as NDA militants in order to get a share of any renewed payments and generally disrupt the NDA’s plans. Just a couple of weeks ago the NDA debunked reports that it was undergoing peace talks with president Buhari, stating that if there were any such talks it meant that the Nigerian leader was engaging with the wrong people.
The NDA even went as far as saying that any peace talks with the government were a “delay tactic” to enable the purchase of drones in the fight against the militants, which the NDA believes would arrive at the end of August, at the very latest, from the US.
“Mr. President, you can purchase all the drones in Europe and [United States]. It won’t stop the Niger Delta Avengers from bringing the country’s economy to zero,” said an NDA spokesperson in response to this alleged government tactic.
The latest wave of attacks in the Delta, which are sending shockwaves throughout West Africa, comes in response to the government’s winding down of a 2009 amnesty deal for Niger Delta insurgents.
“The 2016 budget for stipends and allowances for ex-militants has been cut back by more than two thirds. The predictable result, as forewarned by the presidential adviser on the amnesty program, is that militants have been driven back to the creeks and returned to violence,” Verisk Maplecroft Senior Africa Analyst Malte Liewerscheidt told Rigzone.
Renewed payments, which began Aug. 1, are paid directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria to various accounts owned by the militants suspected to be carrying out the assaults. The payments include tuition for those studying abroad, with each militant entitled to $203.44 (65,000 naira) every month, plus job training, as part of the deal.
Even if these payments were going to the right people, it’s no guarantee that the attacks in the Delta would stop. Rival groups could take up arms to get a slice of the pie and even the NDA could resume attacks in an attempt to get a better deal from the government. I think it’ll be a while yet before the region sees relative stability and peace.