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Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua has declared the conflict that
plagued the oil producing Niger Delta has ended after a recent amnesty
for rebels in the region that he called successful. The overall security situation remains fragile.
president, Umaru Yar'Adua, told a visiting OPEC delegation that Nigeria
can now meet its current production quota of 1.8 million barrels per
day. At peak production levels, the country can pump around
2.6 million barrels per day.
Mr. Yar'Adua reassured OPEC
officials that attacks on the oil industry that sharply reduced
Nigerian oil output have subsided, thanks to the amnesty program.
problem is over," he said. "The agitations and the militancy arising
from the oil and gas industry is over, and now I think that the
situation is back to normal and within six months, maximum, it will be
part of our history."
The violence has subsidized in recent
months, but industry analysts caution it is too early to say if the
security situation in the oil producing region has improved. The U.S.
Embassy is urging restraint and dialogue in resolving outstanding
issues relating to the amnesty.
The amnesty program brought in
more than 8,000 militants - the government says the final figure could
be more than 15,000. But the peace process has been called a sham by
the main militant group.
The amnesty granted immunity from
prosecution to any militant who renounced violence before October 4. The chief amnesty coordinator, Air Vice Marshall Lucky
Ararile, says tough action will be taken against militants still
operating in the region.
"You are not supposed to carry arms,"
he said. "As from fourth of October, any person that bears arms
illegally and is seen or caught will be dealt with according to the
Since the 1970s, Nigeria has pumped more than $300 billion
worth of crude from the southern delta states, according to estimates.
But high unemployment, environmental degradation due to oil and gas
exploitation, and a lack of basic resources such as fresh water and
electricity have angered some of the region's youth and incited them to
take up arms.
The government says the amnesty is the first step
to bring peace to the region, but skeptics question whether the amnesty
will bring an end to the violence, saying the government has done very
little to create employment or training opportunities for those who
handed over their guns.