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Violence and peace in the Niger Delta

Monday, Jul 10, 2017

Disruption has been reduced in the oil-producing Niger Delta but violence continues to simmer and will continue to play a role in Nigerian politics, writes Ed Reed

What: Violence in the Delta has fallen since late 2016.

Why: Militants have secured a seat at the table, at state and federal levels.

What next: A degree of violence will continue but it is unlikely to return to 2016 levels in the near term.

Militancy in the Niger Delta dominated the country’s oil industry in 2016, driven by the Forcados closure, which took its toll on Royal Dutch Shell but also on smaller independents. Various groups played a part but the spotlight was dominated by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), driven by a media-savvy campaign.

Hostilities largely ended in December, though, with the groups backing away from violence and agreeing to talks with the government. This was driven through high-level talks, combined with the resumption of amnesty payments. Sporadic incidents remain, although it can be hard to tell the difference between saboteurs and oil thieves, but in the whole, the situation is much improved.

These payments, worth just over US$200 per month per militant, are paid to around 30,000 former fighters. Although the programme has been criticised for inefficiency, it does seem to have played a significant role in damping down violence, particularly given the lack of employment opportunities in the Niger Delta.

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