Mediators in the Niger Delta ceasefire deal met in Delta State on 5 January to review progress made since they last met with President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2016.
Main Findings in Brief
- Known as the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the mediators made 16 requests to the president in that meeting including the withdrawal of troops from restive communities and the establishment of a new maritime university in the region, which the former Goodluck Jonathan administration was pursuing but the Buhari administration suspended. There has been no further word from the government on those requests.
- The main militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), backed the mediation and agreed to a ceasefire, but it still carried out a few attacks shortly afterwards to demand quicker government action and to deter oil firms from operating until peace talks are completed.
- Last month, a presidency spokesman, Femi Adesina, seemed to question the credibility of the PANDEF mediators during a TV interview, when he pointed to the fact that attacks still occurred after the mediators stepped in. PANDEF has since criticised the government for that commentary1.
- The forum has also criticised the government concerning the ongoing trial of former first lady Patience Jonathan for alleged corruption. This month security forces raided a house belonging to the Jonathan family in connection with the former first lady's case. Goodluck Jonathan is from the Niger Delta, and many people from the region believe his family is being unduly targeted by the current government.
- Nigeria projected oil output of 2.2 million barrels per day (mbpd) for 2016, but the militant attacks on oil facilities disrupted output and the average for the year was about 1.5mbpd. The government's finances took a hit as a result because it derives two-thirds of its revenue from petrodollars.
There have been no fresh attacks for over a month now and mediators believe their intercession has worked, but as the lead mediator Chief Edwin Clark recently warned, the militants may get agitated by the perceived government inaction and resume attacks. The fragile ceasefire threatens the government's 2.2mbpd oil output target for 2017—and consequently the government's finances.
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