Learn more about the Niger Delta Avengers, the militia credited for destroying Nigeria's oil economy.
The Buhari administration announced that the Nigerian government will begin negotiations with the Niger Delta Avengers rebel group—who’s been ravaging the country’s oil pipelines since February.
“The President has appointed a team to begin the process of a very intensive dialogue with those caught in the middle of this,” Ibe Kachikwu, Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum, said to Reuters. “I am sure that in the ensuing one week the intensity of that dialogue will wrap up.”
The Niger Delta Avengers first made waves in early February when the group claimed responsibility for the destruction of a Shell underwater pipe.
Pledging to “cripple Nigeria’s economy,” the group has been vandalizing and destroying pipelines throughout the country's southern region.
According Kachikwu, the Niger Delta Avenger’s attacks have cost Nigeria “about 600,000 barrels” of oil daily, valued at around $30 million.
Before the attacks, Nigeria was Africa’s largest producer of oil. The oil industry accounts for 70 percent of the government’s annual revenue. The crippling effects of the insurgency finds Buhari’s administration scrambling to find a solution.
On their Twitter page, the group announced that they will not be taking part in any negotiations with the government.
This is to the Gen. public we're not negotiating with any Committee. if Fed Govt is discussing wth any group they're doing that on their own
— Niger Delta Avengers (@NDAvengers) June 8, 2016
But who exactly are the Niger Delta Avengers? Here are five facts to know about the insurgency group and the ensuing conflict in the Delta region:
- February’s attack marked the end of seven years of relative peace in the region, which previously saw the death of thousands of citizens and military personnel.
- Outlets have speculated that the recent insurgency is in direct response to President Buhari’s crack-down on previous amnesty payments made to ex-militant leaders in the region. The Avengers have denied all ties to previous militant groups.
- According to the Niger Delta Avenger’s website and Twitter account, followed by over twenty-five thousand people, the group aims to liberate the marginalized citizenry of the Bayelsa state region.“Since the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 to date, our resources have been used to sustain the political administrative live wire of Nigeria to the exclusion of the Niger Delta,” the group wrote in a statement.
- The Avengers seek a larger share of the land oil wealth to be distributed to the region’s citizens as well as immediate environmental remediation to the area, which has rampantly been polluted by gas and oil dumping.“We want our resources back to restore the essence of human life in our region for generations to come, because Nigeria has failed to do that.”
- Earlier this week, President Buhari pledged a $1 billion cleanup of the Niger Delta in partnership with the United Nations. It will be interesting to track the ways the Avengers respond to the initiative.