Nigeria says will make overdue payments to ex-oil militants in Niger Delta

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YENAGOA, Nigeria Feb 2 (Reuters) – Nigeria will soon pay all the overdue cash stipends it owes former militants who signed up for an amnesty in 2009 in the Niger Delta oil hub, the government said on Thursday.

Militants have threatened to resume attacking oil facilities should the cash payments not be made.

“We advise all to remain calm as all stipend arrears and other outstanding payments under the programme will soon be paid,” the office of the government amnesty programme said in a statement.

The government has been holding talks with militants to end attacks on crude pipelines, which reduced Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.

Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption. They later resumed payments to keep pipeline attacks from crippling vital oil revenues.

Two months of stipends were paid out in January, but the amnesty office said foreign schools fees and other allowances had not been sent by the federal government yet.

Each former militant is entitled under the amnesty to 65,000 naira ($213.68) a month plus job training.

President Muhammadu Buhari met Niger Delta leaders and representatives for the militants in November to discuss their demands but little progress has emerged publicly since then.

The militants and residents who sympathise with them say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished region.

Crude sales make up about 70 percent of government revenue and the attacks have worsened an economic crisis brought on by low global oil prices. ($1 = 304.2000 naira) (Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Larry King)

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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