By Martin Patience — From BBC News
The vast wetlands of the Niger Delta region are home to Nigeria’s vast oil resources, but are once again at the centre of a security crisis.
The militants or the “boys” are back in the creeks, destroying pipelines, attacking oil installations, and kidnapping workers.
The violence has slashed Nigeria’s oil production by a third.
As we snake our way through the mangrove swamps in a speedboat we are entering a world where outsiders are no longer welcome.
With pipelines and a huge oil export terminal on the horizon, every so often we flash by a fishing community with its wooden huts clustered close to rickety, wooden pier.
The chaos here is dealing a serious blow to the Nigerian government who are dependent upon oil sales for most of its revenues. It has also helped push up the global oil price to almost $50 (£38) a barrel.
The renewed militancy was triggered late last year by the cash-strapped government’s decision to cancel lucrative security contracts and reduce the budget to pay former militants by 70% .
The payments were part of an amnesty programme agreed upon in 2009 that largely ended the previous bout of militancy, which had crippled the oil industry a decade ago.
As part of the agreement, tens of thousands of militants gave up their arms in return for a monthly stipend worth around $400 at the time and the opportunity to retrain as divers, welders and boat builders at colleges overseas.
Critics regarded the deal as little more than a “bribe for peace”.
Now with the payments drying up, many fighters with a grievance and a gun feel they have little to lose.
Read more at BBC News
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