Group urges to meet militant demands for control of Niger Delta

Aug 03, 2006 02:00 AM

Nigeria could prevent a "violent meltdown" in its oil producing Niger Delta if it met militant demands for more local control over oil wealth in a transparent way, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
A wave of militant attacks this year has killed an unknown number of people in Nigeria's vast southern wetlands and shut down a quarter of output from Africa's biggest oil producer -- the latest flare-up in a conflict that has dragged on for years.

The ICG, dedicated to conflict prevention and resolution, said delta militancy was more dangerous now than in the past, when unrest involved mainly local groups seeking to extort promises of cash or badly needed municipal development projects.
Nigeria's oil producing states receive up to six times more national revenue than other states under a system known as "derivation" which allows them to keep 13 % of locally generated petrodollars. But delta militants, angry at poverty and neglect in a region that produces most of Nigeria's wealth, accuse state politicians of wasting or pocketing much of the derivation funds and call for total local control over oil revenues.

The recommendation follows a UN report in July that also backed the call for greater resource control in the delta. The ICG, however, said that the reform would have to be accompanied by tougher measures against corruption, an area in which the government's record is seen in the delta as "window-dressing", the ICG said. It suggested increasing the derivation amount given to groups of residents at the village or clan level, and refashioning the joint ventures between government and oil firms that control production to give residents an ownership stake.
It said that the response to unrest in the delta so far, a mix of brutal army repression and a "semi-illicit system of government and oil company payments to militants", had bred resentment and rewarded violence, worsening the conflict.

Source: AlertNet news
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