A 40-person technical committee was commissioned, Monday by the Nigerian government to draw up recommendations to end the crisis in the oil-rich Niger Delta.  But the main rebel group has rejected the plan.  For VOA, Gilbert da Costa has more in this report from Abuja.

Following the collapse of the government's attempts to negotiate a settlement with oil rebels, the new committee is mandated to review previous reports on ways to develop the Niger Delta and to advise government accordingly.

Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter, is already suffering huge losses because of violence in the Delta.

Authorities have acknowledged that poverty and neglect lie at the root of many of the region's problems.

The Delta's most prominent armed militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says the so-called peace committee is destined to fail.  The group has made the release of its leader, Henry Okah, on trial for treason and gun-running, a pre-condition for suspending its campaign of violence.

A community leader with strong ties to the rebels, Chief Edwin Clark, says the federal government has not shown commitment and sincerity in dealing with core issues in the Delta crisis.

"The federal government is not sincere, is not ready to commit itself to anything.  We have told them enough is enough.  If you want to settle the problem of the Niger Delta, demonstrate willpower, your sincerity.  Show that you are committed and the people will stop the crisis, they will embrace whatever development. They [government] have not shown the willpower, commitment and the sincerity to develop the area.  And, there can never be peace without justice," said Clark.

The 15-month administration of President Umaru Yar'Adua has repeatedly promised to address the root cause of the unrest.

Many of the armed groups in the Niger Delta say they are fighting for a greater share of the nation's oil wealth.  The inhabitants of the Delta remain desperately poor, despite the wealth pumped out of the region every day.

Other groups have targeted foreign companies, seizing workers in exchange for ransom.

Nigeria's daily oil production has been cut by about a quarter because of the violence in the southern region.  The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries says the West African nation was overtaken as the continent's largest producer by Angola in April.