The Nigerian presidency has announced that it is releasing an additional N30 billion (about $98.47 million) with the promise of a subsequent N5 billion to ex-Niger Delta militants. The Nigerian government says that the backlog in stipend payments to ex-militants has been cleared to the end of 2016.
Under the 2009 amnesty, designed to end an insurgency in Nigeria’s oil patch, the government paid ex-militants a stipend and promised them job training. President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2015 presidential election campaign said that he would end the amnesty program and instead promote accelerated development of the delta region. Such plans development in the delta region are yet to come to fruition, and the government temporarily terminated payments in February 2016 in an attempt to stop corruption. Payments resumed in January this year, however, in March the government said that a cash crunch (associated with low international prices for oil) called into question the provision of the stipends.
In 2016, militants cut crude production by about a third. Resumption of the amnesty has led to relative calm and a restoration of oil production to about two million barrels per day. The Buhari government likely felt it had little choice but to continue to buy off militants or face a devastating fall in government revenue which is directly tied to oil production. However, meeting the demands of the militants is likely to have long term consequences. Already in northern Nigeria, irregulars who participated in the ‘Civilian Joint Task Force’ on the government side against Boko Haram are agitating for similar arrangements. After all, they were on the side of the government while the ex-militants were fighting it, they argue.