News / Africa

Nigeria’s 'Boys' - Former Militants Frustrated, Unemployed

In this March 24, 2011 file photo, oil is seen on the creek's surface near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland, outside Port Harcourt, in Nigeria's Delta region (AP).In this March 24, 2011 file photo, oil is seen on the creek's surface near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland, outside Port Harcourt, in Nigeria's Delta region (AP).
x
In this March 24, 2011 file photo, oil is seen on the creek's surface near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland, outside Port Harcourt, in Nigeria's Delta region (AP).
In this March 24, 2011 file photo, oil is seen on the creek's surface near an illegal oil refinery in Ogoniland, outside Port Harcourt, in Nigeria's Delta region (AP).
TEXT SIZE - +
Heather Murdock
Part 1 of a 3-part series

WARRI, NIGERIA - Thousands of former militants from the Niger Delta are returning to their home states with job training that was a part of a 2009 peace deal.  But many are finding no jobs, no use for their new skills and no more benefits from their region's oil wealth than before they became fighters.  Many say if things don’t change, they will take up arms again.
 
A room full of young men crowd around a cell phone on the coffee table.  They watch a YouTube video that shows militants training in the Niger Delta just a few years ago, wearing fatigues, masks and carrying AK-47s.  
 
They say that was once their life, but they don’t want to go back.   
 
One young man, Dennis, says three years after the peace deal, the original source of conflict remains.  The Niger Delta produces 2.5 million barrels of crude oil a day but the people are still impoverished.

Related Video
Niger Delta Residents Claim Delta's Resourcesi
|| 0:00:00
X
Heather Murdock
July 27, 2012
The battle for oil wealth continues in Nigeria’s Niger Delta three years after a government amnesty ended fighting. As Heather Murdock reports for VOA from Warri, former fighters say the problems that caused them to take up arms remain.

 
“They are taking the crude oil and they are selling it outside," he said. "They are making money but we, the landowners, are not getting anything.  We are not benefiting anything from it.”  
 
Dennis is one of more than 26,000 former militants known locally as “the boys,” who gave up their weapons in 2009 in exchange for a chance to learn jobs skills and some financial support.
 
Now, as they are returning to the Niger Delta trained in skills such as carpentry, crane operations and underwater welding, the boys say they aren’t finding any jobs and the amnesty program is rife with corruption.  Some say they may have no choice but to go back to attacking oil companies to survive.
 
Jude Ferdinard Kent Omatsone, the former speaker of the Delta State Assembly, says it was lack of other opportunities that started the fighting in the first place.
 
“There are no resources," said Omatsone. "To get to your place is a serious problem, there’s no light.  There’s no electricity.  There’s no infrastructure.“

Nigeria’s “Boys” - Former Militants Frustrated, Unemployed
Nigeria’s “Boys” - Former Militants Frustrated, Unemployedi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


Other former militants, like Captain Mark Anthony, say the amnesty only rewarded the true aggressors - arguing it is the oil companies that are stealing from the people, not the other way round.  Anthony notes his group is hiding weapons and is ready for battle - if the government doesn’t compensate his boys financially.  He says he originally supported the amnesty program, brokered by former President Umaru Yar'Adua, but the government has not lived up to its promises.
 
“The whole amnesty program is a sham; it is a deception," said Anthony. "It does not go along with what Yar'Adua promised the Niger Delta people.  Up until now our areas are still underdeveloped.  The degradation is still there.  The environmental pollution is still there."
 
Anthony does not say how many soldiers are at the ready or how many weapons are hidden. But he says he’s ready to resume attacks on oil companies and kidnapping foreign employees.
 
But local officials are downplaying the threat that the Niger Delta is going to sink back into war when the amnesty program ends in 2015 - or even sooner - as the boys return to find themselves jobless.   
 
Tonye Emmanuel Isenah is the deputy leader of the state assembly in oil-rich Bayelsa State - in the core of the Delta.  He says he doesn’t blame the boys for fighting, but he’s confident the conflict is over.  
 
“Our youths have taken up arms," said Isenah. "They’ve seen the dangers and everything in it.  They have sent a message and they got the attentions [of]  the federal government and they are trained.  I don’t think they want to go back.”
 
Kidnapping is still common in the Niger Delta and the government says oil companies are losing more than $1 billion a month to oil theft.  Illegal refineries continue to operate along the banks of the rivers and creeks despite massive efforts to shut down operations.
 
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter and most populous country, is also facing an insurgency and sectarian violence in the north and security forces say they are “stretched thin” across the country.
 
Isenah does acknowledge that Nigerian leaders must create real opportunities for people to maintain the current level of stability in Niger Delta - which is shaky at best.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mikee from: USA
June 28, 2012 12:41 PM
Who cares...Let Africa worry about themselves...We have enough problems without taking on Nigers problems.
If anything, their OWN people should do what is needed to clean their country up...like America did 200, 100 and 50 years ago with Revolution, then evolution.


by: daniel - usa from: usa
June 28, 2012 8:32 AM
the boys are the only agitation group we must support, they have a point. what they're fighting for is like a family with many children to feed, cooks a very healthy,. delicious meal all the feeding time, but an evil, tortuous, intimidating, cruel, and oppressive hand takes the meal away, and the children never gets to feed. and in many cases starves to death. and if i am the mend or the boys as you call them, why will i not ask why is this delicious meal being taken away from me.
the boko haram have no goal,and why are they agitating? and agitating for what? sharia law? an ideology such as that is stupid, because the constitution for one nigeria does not define sharia idealism, but if they want that, the senators and the governors who finance them and support them should right addendums to the constitution. in america here they call it ammendments


by: Goodluck from: bayelsa
June 28, 2012 6:08 AM
The Niger Delta people were greeted with high hopes when the government of Nigeria announced the introduction of the amnesty programme in the region. However, after three years the people of the region is yet to see the massive development cutting across the area. The question often asked by many from the region is that: is this a deliberate ploy by the Nigerian government not to improve on the living condition of the people? Government please fulfill your promises before things get out of hands.


by: o. a. nwoke from: enugu nigeria
June 28, 2012 1:37 AM
The issue here with the Nigerian Boys is that the government programme for them is saddled with high profile corruption. One will be at odd to imagine that the ex-militants who were made several life changing promises that includd infrastructural development of their area could come back from their training to see no improvement on the infrastructure let alone get the requisits employment hoped for in the oil secture.
We may not wittnes a resurgence in the activities of the boys unless the Nigerian Government does not effectively checkmet the activities of the Islamic fundamentalists in the northern part of the country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid