The Nigerian government’s efforts to secure peace in the oil heartlands of the Niger Delta are empty promises, community leaders say, threatening a return to violence that would derail any broader recovery in the crude-dependent economy, Reuters reports.
Following talks between Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and community leaders, oil exports are now set to exceed 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, the highest in 17 months, from as little as just over 1 million bpd at certain points last year. That is due to a steady decline in attacks on pipelines, providing a much-needed injection of cash into Nigerian government coffers.
But ex-militants and local chieftains say that since those “town hall” discussions, little has been done – the government has not followed up on issues raised, is stalling on key demands and has not even appointed a full-time negotiating team. If the Niger Delta people continue to feel Abuja is ignoring their needs, local leaders say they will resort to the only tactic that has ever yielded results: attacks on oil facilities.
A spokesman for the acting president rejected suggestions the government was not doing enough. “The government has not reneged and will never renege on any agreement,” he said, pointing to more spending on an amnesty program for ex-militants and progress on a clean-up project. He also added it was just a matter of time for the opening of a flagship university in October and of small-scale refineries with community ownership in the fourth quarter.