Published On: Thu, Aug 4th, 2016

Nigeria restarts amnesty payments to rebels

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The naira is the currency of Nigeria.

The naira is the currency of Nigeria.

Lagos – Nigeria has resumed the payment of allowances to former Niger delta rebels under an amnesty scheme, a spokesperson says, after low global crude prices plunged the oil-rich country into a financial crisis.

“The payment of allowances is ongoing. Before now, there were some logistics issues, which we have addressed,” said programme spokesperson Owei Lakemfa.

“We had a funding gap – only 20 billion naira (about $62.8m), was approved this year as against three times that amount in 2015.

“But additional money has now been provided and the beneficiaries are getting their stipends through the central bank,” he said.

The amnesty scheme was introduced in 2009 after years of violence, including kidnappings and attacks on oil and gas installations, by militants demanding a fairer share of revenues for local people.

Initially planned

Despite the billions of dollars generated since the discovery of crude in Nigeria in the 1950s, most people live in dire poverty around the creeks and rivers of the oil-producing southern delta region.

But the scheme’s future had faced uncertainty since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May 2015, with indications it would gradually peter out.

Nigeria’s economy has been hit badly by the global fall in oil prices since mid-2014, which has reduced government revenues and forced up inflation to an 11-year high.

Under the scheme, a repentant militant receives 65 000 naira ($204) a month in exchange for renouncing violence.

About 30 000 ex-militants have joined the amnesty scheme, which the government initially planned to wind up by 2018, Lakemfa said. >>>more