NIGERIA has resumed payments of cash stipends to former militants agreed under 2009 amnesty in the country’s Niger Delta oil hub, a government official said, on Thursday.
According to Reuters, the government had been holding talks with militants to end attacks on crude pipelines which reduced Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels per day for several months, last year.
Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption, but later resumed payments to stop pipeline attacks crippling vital oil revenues.
“Two months of the ex-militants’ stipends were paid on Wednesday. The remaining will be paid later in batches by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN),” said Piriye Kiyaramo, an officer in the government’s Amnesty Office.
He said the paid stipends covered August and September, saying each former militant was entitled under the amnesty to N65,000 ($206.68) monthly plus for job training.
Spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, representing the Delta’s biggest ethnic group, said former militants had complained to the region’s top negotiator handling talks with the government about payment delays.
“President Muhammadu Buhari met Niger Delta leaders and representatives for the militants in November to discuss their demands, but little progress had emerged publicly since then.
“The militants and residents, who sympathise with them say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished region.
“Crude sales make up about 70 per cent of government’s revenue and the attacks have deepened economic crisis brought on by low global oil prices.
“Nigeria currently produces close to 1.8 million barrels a day of crude, its oil minister said last month, the latest official figure. Output had been 2.2 million barrels per day at the start of 2016, when a wave of pipeline attacks begun,” he said.