Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Kingdom of Gbaramatu, Nigeria — The Nigerian government’s efforts to secure peace in the oil heartlands of the Niger Delta are empty promises, community leaders say, threatening a return to violence that would derail any broader recovery in the crude-dependent economy.

With Africa’s biggest economy mired in recession, delegations including acting president Yemi Osinbajo have held talks since February with community leaders in the restive oil-producing states in the country’s southeast region.

Oil exports are now set to exceed 2-million barrels per day (bpd) in August, the highest in 17 months, from as little as just more than 1-million bpd at certain points last year. That is due to a steady decline in attacks on pipelines, providing a much-needed injection of cash into Nigerian government coffers.

But former militants and local chieftains say that since those "town hall" discussions, little has been done — the government has not followed up on issues raised, is stalling on key demands and has not even appointed a full-time negotiating team.

If the Niger Delta people continue to feel Abuja is ignoring their needs, leaders say they will resort to the only tactic that has ever yielded results: attacks on oil facilities.

Reuters

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