Nigeria Risks Resurgence of Niger Delta Violence, ICG Warns

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Ernst Jan Hogendoorn

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The International Crisis Group warns that violence may erupt again in the Niger Delta soon due to persistent poverty, poor infrastructure and catastrophic oil pollution

VIOLENCE may soon increase in the Niger Delta unless the Nigerian government acts quickly to address long-simmering grievances, the global conflict prevention organisation, International Crisis Group, ICG, has warned.

In a new report titled Curbing Violence in Nigeria (III): Revisiting the Niger Delta, published on September 29, the Brussels-based group observes that while the Boko Haram insurgency is clearly Nigeria’s paramount security challenge, “persistent poverty and catastrophic oil pollution” could re-ignite violence in the delta.

The report notes that while implementation of the Presidential Amnesty Programe has brought “a semblance of peace” to the region since 2009, the root causes of the 2006 – 2009 insurgency including inadequate infrastructure, environmental pollution, widespread poverty and youth unemployment, remain largely unaddressed.

It notes that “two agencies established to drive development in the region, namely the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and the ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MNDA, have floundered”.

It also observes that “two other agencies mandated to restore the oil-polluted environment (particularly in Ogoni Land) and curb or manage hundreds of oil spills yearly, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project, HYPREP, and the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, have been largely ineffective”.

ICG warns that local discontent may be rising with the imminent termination of the Presidential Amnesty Programme, coupled with the defeat of Goodluck Jonathan, the first president from the region in the March 2015 election.

The organisation recommends 15 steps that need to be taken by President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government, oil companies and Nigeria’s international partners to avert a resurgence of violence.

It urges President Buhari to “visit the delta at the earliest opportunity to underscore commitment to the region and lay out a comprehensive plan for its security and development”.

It also urges the president to “act firmly but carefully, to wind down the amnesty program gradually, revamp development and environmental programs, facilitate passage of the long-stalled Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and improve security and rule of law across the region”.

— Oct 12, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT

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