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In the Niger Delta, Nobel Laureates Continue to Asses the Situation


In Nigeria’s Niger Delta, several recent kidnappings have highlighted the environmental and social problems in the oil-rich region. The latest events have contributed to increasing global oil prices. A commission of Nobel laureates is awaiting research results that they hope will help the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo deal with the situation. Commission participants were briefed by writer Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel laureate, who acted as a facilitator.

In an interview with Hausa Service reporter Sahabo Imam Aliyu, Soyinka says some militants have gone too far, committing gratuitous acts. But he says most are fighting for change to promote regional profit sharing.

“Those who we met admitted frankly that there are rogue elements taking advantage of a principled movement….They admit that there are mercenaries among them who held up banks, held hostages for ransom.”

Soyinka says only a small minority of local activists threaten to endanger Nigeria’s oil resources.

“They do their best to neutralize such elements. But let me tell you, the people are from very disciplined and principled groups who are sick and tired of marginalization…and disdain, of appropriation of what they consider their top resources, in order to enable them to develop in their own interests, at their own pace. Let’s not really deny it. You do have some of these rogue renegade groups. But believe me, those groups are in the tiny minority.”

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