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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora