Lagos, Nigeria | – The Nigerian government’s amnesty program designed to keep militants from attacking oil facilities in the Niger Delta is facing funding problems, posing a potential challenge to efforts to curb violence in the region and raise oil production, a government official said Sunday.
Nigeria had been paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually to former Niger Delta militants under an amnesty program introduced in October 2009 to help end years of attacks on oil installations.
“The program has faced inadequate funding,” presidential adviser to the Amnesty program Paul Boroh was quoted as saying Sunday in a government statement.
This meant the government was unable to cover the monthly stipends paid to ex-militants as well as fund their training programs at foreign institutions, Boroh was quoted as saying at the inauguration of an inter-ministerial committee set up to oversee development plans for the restive Niger Delta region.
“Inadequate funding has also limited the capacity to empower [ex-militants] and exit them from the program,” he said in the statement.
Nigerian government revenue has been hit by low oil prices in the international market, as well as a decline in output and exports.
Output slumped to a near 30-year low of 1.2 million b/d in mid-2016 from 2.2 million b/d earlier due to a sudden resurgence in attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta.
However it has since been on a gradual increase, hitting 1.7 million b/d in February according to the Platts survey, on the back of the recent peace talks between the government and Niger Delta leaders and youths.
Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has been leading the peace talks, inaugurated an inter-ministerial team to fast track the government’s development plans for the Niger Delta as part of the deal struck with the communities to end the violence in the region.
Setting up the team confirmed the government was “faithful to the promises and the spirit of the presidential engagements with the people of the Niger Delta,” Osinbajo was quoted as saying in a statement.