Monday, May 30, 2016

Buhari to Keep Delta Amnesty Program
May 30, 2016

Lagos. — Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed yesterday to keep and “re-engineer” a controversial amnesty programme for Niger delta militants designed to stem attacks that have slashed oil exports but set to be scrapped.

The announcement, made in a televised speech marking his first year in office, is an apparent reversal from earlier this year when his government pledged to end the scheme by 2018.

The costly programme introduced in 2009 after years of violence by separatist militants pays monthly stipends to 30 000 former militants as well as offering them training opportunities. A wave of recent attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure has seen the country’s oil output drop to the lowest level in two decades, putting pressure on the Nigerian government to restore peace in the southern swamplands.

“The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region,” Buhari said.

“Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this.”

This week militant group Niger Delta Avengers claimed responsibility for three separate attacks targeting oil giants Chevron and Shell as well as the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. Faced with a looming recession and depleted cash reserves, Buhari has limited options to deal with rebels having already cut back spending on the amnesty programme. — AFP.

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