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
Niger Delta Residents Claim Delta's Resourcesi
|| 0:00:00
X
Heather Murdock
July 27, 2012 5:54 PM
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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid