CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Stalled negotiations make resumption of militant attacks on Nigerian oil infrastructure increasingly likely as 2019 election approaches

10 January 2018

Key Points

  • President Buhari and the Nigerian government have shown no signs of reacting to threats by the Niger Delta Avengers to resume a devastating bombing campaign.
  • A list of key demands reiterated by veteran militant general Tompolo are yet to be addressed more than a year after negotiations started.
  • The risk to critical parts of oil and gas infrastructure will rise as the election due in early 2019 approaches.

Event

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has shown no sign of being ready to appease militants in the oil-producing Niger Delta as he prepares to seek a second term.

President Muhammadu Buhari stands to take a salute from the army on his return to Nigeria in August 2017 from prolonged medical treatment abroad. (Sunday Aghaeze/AFP/Getty Images: 835559868)President Muhammadu Buhari stands to take a salute from the army on his return to Nigeria in August 2017 from prolonged medical treatment abroad. (Sunday Aghaeze/AFP/Getty Images: 835559868)

Buhari's lengthy New Year address to Nigerians on 1 January 2018 contained just three short sentences on the Niger Delta, even though developments in the region are critical to his chances of winning a second term in early 2019. Buhari stated, "Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region," mentioned a clean-up programme in the Ogoniland area, and thanked stakeholders for "bringing relative peace to the area". The government has still made no direct response to a statement on the website of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militant group on 3 November 2017 that it was ending a year-long ceasefire because of the lack of progress in negotiations with the government.

The NDA has not yet started a new campaign it promised would be "brutish, brutal and bloody", supposedly aimed at every oil installation in the country to completely halt production. The group carried out no attacks in 2017, but in 2016 the newly formed NDA had a devastating impact on oil and gas infrastructure from February onwards, cutting Nigeria's oil production to less than 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), its lowest level for 27 years, and triggering recession.

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