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).
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

 
“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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More