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FG resumes payments to former Niger Delta militants


Owei LakemfaThe Federal government has resumed the payment of allowances to former Niger delta rebels under an amnesty scheme, a spokesman said Wednesday, after low global crude prices plunged the oil-rich country into a financial crisis.

“The payment of allowances is ongoing. Before now, there were some logistics issues, which we have addressed,” programme spokesman Owei Lakemfa said.

“We had a funding gap — only 20 billion naira ($62.8 million, 56 million euros) was approved this year as against 64 billion in 2015.

“But additional money has now been provided and the beneficiaries are getting their stipends through the central bank,” he said.

The amnesty scheme was introduced in 2009 after years of violence, including kidnappings and attacks on oil and gas installations, by militants demanding a fairer share of revenues for local people.

Despite the billions of dollars generated since the discovery of crude in Nigeria in the 1950s, most people live in dire poverty around the creeks and rivers of the oil-producing southern delta region.

But the scheme’s future had faced uncertainty since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015, with indications it would gradually be wound down.

Nigeria’s economy has been hit badly by the global fall in oil prices since mid-2014, which has reduced government revenues and forced up inflation to an 11-year high.

– Social integration –
Under the scheme, a repentant militant receives 65,000 naira ($204) a month in exchange for renouncing violence.

About 30,000 ex-militants have joined the amnesty scheme, which the government initially planned to wind up by 2018, Lakemfa said.

“The decision to exit the scheme lies with the president,” he added.

Some people on the amnesty scheme, particularly those studying abroad on government scholarships, have complained about not receiving their monthly stipends.

But Lakemfa said that ex-militants studying abroad had also been catered for. “There is no problem at all with those on overseas training, as their tuition and allowances are being paid promptly,” he said.

Officials say between 15,000 and 20,000 former militants are this year expected to end amnesty-funded vocational skills and academic programmes designed to integrate them back into society.

Nigeria has seen a resurgence in oil unrest since the beginning of the year.

Since February, militant group the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has carried out devastating attacks on the country’s key oil infrastructure, slashing output to around a third.

Pipelines operated by oil majors like Anglo-Dutch group Shell, US’ Chevron and Exxon and Italy’s Eni, as well as the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, have been targeted.

The NDA has spurned a government truce until its demands for a fairer share of the nation’s oil wealth for the Niger delta residents, as well as self-determination and political autonomy, are realised.

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  • Iskacountryman

    buhari 0…militants 2….sodja surrendered to militants…

  • Basil Ogbanufe

    Gragra in action.

  • Elder (Dr.) Chukwuma Nwaonicha

    It is nice that the Federal government has resumed the payment of allowances to former Niger delta militants under an
    amnesty scheme. I advise that the militant groups in Niger Delta sheath their swords and embrace peace through dialogue. I believe that it is only when they embrace peace government will meet their demands. As stated in the past, safety and security are key ingredients to achieving social, economic, technology and industrial developments in any society. Conducive environment for investment cannot be achieved in a society where militancy, hostage taking, oil theft, pirating, sabotaging pipelines and kidnapping reign. For example, from all indications, the issue of insecurity in our communities is a by-product of numerous problems like poverty, unemployment and under-development. Therefore, there is need for the cooperation
    of the locals and peaceful coexistence among Niger Deltans.

    Besides payment of allowances, the long-term solution to the Niger Delta problems requires quality education for the indigenes including high scale capacity building and radical revitalization of the dilapidated infrastructures in the region; thereby developing the region and creating employment for the masses in the communities. It is a saying that one should teach a child how to fish (a long-term solution to the child’s problem) but not to give a child a fish (a short-term solution to the child’s problem). Handouts are no solution to any social and economic problems in any society. The stakeholders in the region have to do their homework diligently. Thank you.

    • Eyes Justice

      @elderdrchukwumanwaonicha:disqus Pls sir, I still don’t get it; what exactly are we paying for? Is there a contract? For I am aware the government is busy prosecuting people for allegedly being paid from public treasury without valid work value! What exactly are we buying: Time? O, I see the point – we bribed their elites with a MND and NDDC, it is logical we continue bribing the groundlings – the Opportunity Cost of restructuring our political economy. Government says the 2014 National Conference was “Job for the Boys“. So how would this regime of elders describe this sweat deal: “SOP FOR THE REAL MEN“? Woe unto a nation led by hypocrites and self-servers.

  • emmanuel kalu

    wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper and better give the region more control or ownership in the oil and gas sector. use that money to massively develop the region schools, roads, factories and agriculture,

  • larr

    The resumption of the amnesty program including the payment of allowances to MEND is a clear testimony that the only language the government of Buhari understands is force. MEND is not relevant in the equation, it is a bunch of people looking for crumbs. The problem in the Niger-delta is more complex than the amnesty program. It is about the redistribution of the oil blocs, the control of their God given resources. Those problems are not resolveable, they can only be solved. We want solution not resolution. The freedom fighters should not trust the government that is not serious about solving the problem, the fight must go on!

  • Mr. J-Miller

    When you start fighting a mad man, invariably people will think you’re also mad! I want to tell Buhari to forget about force, he will only waste resources that would be given to these people to calm their nerves. They are living in these poluted environs, hence, they should be treated with priority. That’s why those boys (militant) are acting that way! The FG one time promise about paying poor Nigerians monthly income, if government were serious about it, I think they should start with this boys first. PEACE! Let’s embrace peace for the betterment of the country. Giving them money is not waste, compare to the unseen looted funds! Plzzzzzz‎