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Nigeria has former militants guarding oil
Nigeria has hired former militants to provide pipeline security in the country’s troubled Niger delta.
In the past year the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. has paid former Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta members about $43.7 million to guard its oil pipeline network.
The payments are disbursed under the Nigerian federal government’s amnesty program instituted under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in June 2009.
In setting out the terms of the amnesty Yar’Adua, who died in May 2010, said the program implied those seeking amnesty give up illegal arms and renounce militancy “in all its ramifications.”
“It is my fervent hope that all militants in the Niger Delta will take advantage of this amnesty and come out to join in the quest for the transformation of our dear nation,” Yar’Adua said.
Recent reports note that in the past 12 months oil thefts from pipelines have been rising, with Nigeria losing roughly 10 percent of its daily crude production to thieves in the Niger Delta region.
Shell, the leading oil producer in the Niger Delta, said 150,000 barrels of Nigeria’s crude production are stolen each day, more than Ghana’s daily output, and in May, oil theft from a pipeline got so bad that Shell shut it down, The Daily Trust newspaper reported.
Still, the overall situation has seen improvement in the longer term.
“We don’t need to look far to see why it was needed and why (amnesty) was a necessary intervention,” said Nigerian Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs Sen. Nurudeen Abatemi-Usman.
“We were a basket case as a country … Thank God the then-president, the late Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua had the wisdom, foresight and understanding to recognize the need to make the amnesty offer to the Niger Delta militants at that time.
“If he hadn’t at the time, only God knows what the situation would have been today.”
Abatemi-Usman said before the program output in the Niger Delta was about 1 million barrels a day; since amnesty was offered, production has risen to 2.4 million barrels a day.
“Such (data) will naturally tell you that amnesty is the reason why things are looking stable and back to normal in the Niger Delta. It may not be a huge success, per se, but also it is not such an abysmal failure,” he said.
Copyright 2012 by United Press International