Nigerian Petroleum Minister Calls for Changes to Delta Amnesty

Nigeria’s amnesty program for armed militants in the country’s key oil and gas producing Niger River delta region needs restructuring, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Kachikwu said, as crude output plunged on renewed attacks.

There is a need “to restructure the amnesty program so as to address the critical issue of neglect by the government and international oil companies,” he said, according to a statement released after a meeting with Niger delta stakeholders in Abuja, the capital.

The delta has been rocked by attacks since February that have cut Nigeria’s oil output to the lowest in almost three decades. A previous outbreak of violence abated in 2009 after the then government offered an amnesty program including monthly stipends to fighters willing to disarm. President Muhammadu Buhari has reduced those payments as part of an anti-corruption drive, prompting militants, now calling themselves The Niger Delta Avengers, to retaliate.

There is an “urgent need” to create business opportunities for residents of the delta region, Kachikwu said, asking that state governors be involved in providing a lasting solution to the unrest.

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