Nigeria lost between $50 billion and $100 billion in oil revenues to militant attacks on installations last year, the country’s petroleum minister said Tuesday.
At their worst point, the attacks cut production to 1.2 million barrels a day – a loss of 1 million barrels a day, Ibe Kachikwu said in a video posted on social media.
The video announced a 20-point plan to end decades of insurgency through investment in social and infrastructure development in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
Militants say careless oil production has impoverished residents by destroying agriculture and fishing grounds.
Kachikwu promised to work with state governments, communities and multinational oil companies to bring oil business opportunities to residents of Nigeria’s southern oil-producing states. His plans include building oil refineries.
“Nothing is as sad for people who produce resources to not have access to those resource opportunities,” he said.
Kachikwu stressed the “need to pull people from militancy and pull them back into schools.”
But he also said the government, operating on a budget strained by low international oil prices, cannot continue a 2009 federal amnesty program paying 30,000 former militants. The program included paying ex-militants to guard the installations they once blew up.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government last year tried to end the program, which brought renewed attacks.
Kachikwu suggested having Nigeria’s states institute amnesty programs, but it was unclear where the money would come from. Nigeria is suffering its worst recession in 25 years.
Halting the militancy has “defeated every regime … a problem that seems to be intractable, seems to be never-ending,” Kachikwu noted. But he said Buhari’s government remains “very bullish” about resolving it.
Many militants want action to replace months of talks.
“The 20-point agenda is a welcome development, but it is high time the Nigerian government backs up its talk with action … not mere talks without actions that have being going on for donkeys of years,” Pastor Nature Dumale Kieghe, a former militant leader, told The Associated Press.
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