Irina Slav | –
The Niger Delta Avengers have agreed to cease their attacks on oil production and transportation infrastructure after prolonged negotiations with the federal government of Nigeria. The ceasefire, however, is conditional, and talks will continue, the group announced.
The condition that the NDA has laid out for the federal government is that it stops “harassing innocent citizens,” especially members of the Ijaw community in the Delta, which a lot of members of militant groups come from.
Though the news of the ceasefire offers some hope for Nigeria’s battered economy—with daily oil output slashed by between 700,000 and 900,000 bpd, according to different estimates—the likelihood of it keeping is not great, observers warn. As Deutsche Welle notes, many militants are impoverished, unemployed youths, embittered by their circumstances and blaming the international oil companies and the government in Abuja for them.
What’s more, NDA is just one of the militant groups operating in the Niger Delta, and a ceasefire with it does not guarantee a complete cessation of attacks. Besides, the NDA has been less active in recent months, while other self-proclaimed defendants of the local communities have come to the foreground with attacks on pipelines.
Reuters reports that there isn’t much optimism from either the government or the oil companies. The latter, in fact, are tight-lipped about their immediate plans in the country, so there is no way of knowing when major pipelines such as Shell’s Forcados or Exxon’s Qua Iboe will be back online, or even if they will be brought back online.
Nigeria’s problems with militant groups are not new. It is currently dealing with the violent Boko Haram organization in the North as well as well as the militants in the Delta. Many of these militants are also members of an older group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
Members of this group were offered amnesty by former president Goodluck Jonathan. A lot of money was spent on training programs for those who chose to give up their militant activities, but the group is still active and has distanced itself from the NDA’s latest announcement, pledging to continue carrying out attacks in the region, Nigerian daily Punch notes.
Irina Slav is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.