The Amnesty and current violence in the Niger Delta
Larissa Rocha S. Almeida
Nigeria is a country located in the Gulf of Guinea, bordering with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and its main natural resources include natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron, ore, coal and limestone (CIA, 2018).
Nigeria plays a tremendous role in the world energy market, being the seventh largest oil producer in the globe (IKELEGBE, 2005), aside from being the most populous country in Africa with an estimated GDP of 510 billion USD (U.S. Department of State, 2017). This contributed to the beginning of the rivalry, when local ethnic groups believed they were being exploited by foreign oil corporations. Those groups soon became militarized and started pervading the Niger Delta region.
In 2009 the government of Nigeria introduced the Presidential Amnesty Program (PAP), as an answer to a spreading violence in the Niger Delta, with an ongoing conflict since the late 1980’s. But “although the amnesty precipitated a cessation of hostilities against the federal government and the oil industry, the results are fraught with the makings of new violence” FORBES, 2018).
In the article, the author examines three significant issues with the amnesty as it relates directly to reintegration of ex-combatants: “reinforcement of militant hierarchies and commodification on violence; substitution of militancy for criminality and ongoing communal tensions; and professionalization of illegal oil lifting of Nigeria’s current production” (FORBES, 2018).
This happened due to some problems in the structure of the program – for example, the federal government od Nigeria was to pay former combatants and provide them with job training, and said payment was distributed to ex-commanders who were supposed to distribute it to their ex-combatants, thus enlarging the militant structures (FORBES, 2018). Besides the obvious problem, the amnesty payments still add to creating vehicles of political power for the 2019 elections and creating a cash-for-peace system, arranging violence into a commodity (FORBES, 2018).
Another point is the volatile behavior of the ex-militants. When the government failed in paying the stipends in 2016, ex-combatants went straight back to their old patterns, reemerging as militant groups in the Niger Delta, destroying the Forcados pipeline (FORBES, 2018). In addition to that, the ex-combatants were discouraged to look for actual jobs, given the amount they were being paid in stipends, which was more than the average salary in Nigeria (FORBES, 2018). As a result to the short participation from some commanders and the narrow surrendering of illegal weapons, the hostility lingers (FORBES, 2018).
In conclusion, the unsuccessful amnesty program has many faults and ended up resulting in a worse outcome than before the actual program was installed, meaning the Niger Delta remains an area of instability, compromising the oil production and thus influencing negatively on the Nigerian economy and social well-being, given the continuous hostage situations that it goes through.
CIA. The World Factbook: Nigeria. Central Intelligence Agency, 2018. Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html.
FORBES. Golden-Timsar, Rebecca. Amnesty and New Violence in the Niger Delta. March 20, 2018. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2018/03/20/amnesty-and-new-violence-in-the-niger-delta/#2fba568c263f.
GOLDEN-TIMSAR, Rebecca. Amnesty and New Violence in the Niger Delta. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/uhenergy/2018/03/20/amnesty-and-new-violence-in-the-niger-delta/#2fba568c263f.
IKELEGBE, Augustine. The Economy of Conflict in the Oil Rich Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. Nordic Journal of African Studies. Benin City, Nigeria, 2005. Available at: http://integritynigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ikelegbe_the_economy-of-Conflict.pdf.
U.S. Department of State. U.S. Relations With Nigeria. Available at: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2836.htm.