Country Risk

Conciliation, concessions from Nigerian government make further major militant attacks in Niger Delta unlikely in six-month outlook

13 April 2017
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari has allowed his vice-president to take the lead on Niger Delta negotiations. Source: PA

Key Points

  • Several visits to the Niger Delta by the vice-president and concession of key demands have signalled an end to a federal government policy of confrontation and armed response.
  • Major concessions to promote Niger Delta development and infrastructure and overtures to a pivotal militant leader are helping to reinforce a de facto truce by militants.
  • The financial cost and threat to oil and gas companies aiming to ramp up production is greatly reduced in at least the six-month outlook, with a definitive negotiated settlement also being a realistic possibility.


A new federal government policy of engaging Niger Delta stakeholders, spearheaded by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, is paving the way for a definitive end to the targeting of oil and gas infrastructure by the Niger Delta Avengers.

Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari officially launched the 2017-20 Economic Recovery and Growth Plan in Abuja on 5 April, pledging to achieve 7% growth and an oil output of 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by the end of the period. If Buhari is to have any hope of achieving such a dramatic recovery from negative growth of 1.5% in 2016, it will rely on building on an initiative driven by his vice-president, Yemi Osinbajo, when the head of state was receiving extended medical treatment in London for seven weeks between late January and mid-March. Buhari had never visited the oil-producing Niger Delta since being sworn in as president in May 2015, but Osinbajo crammed in six separate visits while officially acting in the capacity of head of state after Buhari handed over full power in his absence.

The purpose of the visits was to build on tentative negotiations with the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) headed by Chief Edwin Clark, which was representing the interests of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militant group - which three months after its formation had reduced Nigeria's oil output to 1.4 million bpd in May 2016, its lowest level for 27 years.

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