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Nigeria to Offer Niger Delta Residents Stake in Oil Ventures


Nigeria to Offer Niger Delta Residents Stake in Oil Ventures

Nigeria to Offer Niger Delta Residents Stake in Oil Ventures

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The Nigerian government is planning to offer residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta region 10 percent of all oil and gas ventures in an effort to end unrest that has hampered oil production.

Nigerian officials say President Umaru Yar'Adua has asked parliament to approve the initiative, which would signal a bold new phase in government efforts to broker a lasting peace in the area.

An advisor to Mr. Yar'Adua, Emmanuel Egbogah, told London's Financial Times newspaper that the president hopes to add the proposal to reforms that would be enacted by the end of the year.

Under the proposal, all citizens of oil-bearing communities would be entitled to cash benefits, delivered through trusts, that could be used individually or collectively for social projects.

The newspaper reports that the community stakes could be valued at $338 million in the first year.

It says the payment would also be linked to production in each area, providing a disincentive to oil theft and sabotage.

Attacks on oil installations and the kidnapping of oil workers have sharply reduced Nigeria's oil production and revenue over the last four years. The militants say they want a more equitable distribution of the country's oil wealth.

Nigeria's government says thousands of militants accepted a recent amnesty offer. However, the region's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, rejected the offer.

The group ended a three-month-old cease-fire on Friday, although it has not reported any new attacks in the past three days.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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