Nigerian military authorities say they have repelled an attack on an Exxon Mobil housing compound in the Niger Delta state of Akwa Ibom. The region's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), says it is stepping up its attacks on the oil industry. It says the Nigerian government is not sincere about a peaceful solution to the area's problems. Analysts say the on-going attacks could worsen the country's economy, already reeling from reduced output and international demand.
Obum Cletus, a community leader in the Delta, says the security situation in the area will get worse before it gets better.
"The signals that are there is that there appears to be to be no mediatory effort by the Nigerian state to indeed make the Niger Delta safe and secure in terms of social security, in terms of welfare security, in terms of business security and in terms of social mobility, and because of this very fact, it is going to be very difficult. So if you are seeing this escalation that is now extending within the Bight of Biafra and within the continental shelf that included Equatorial Guinea then you begin to understand that in no time this matter is going to get out of hand and it will not just be a matter of a Nigerian Niger Delta crisis."
He says MEND, by its actions, is not trying to
militarily defeat Nigerian security forces. "What the MEND stands for and what
it is agitating for, more or less, is the same that has been done on the
political front by the political leaders on the floor of the Nigerian senate
from the first republic to date. It is the failure of the Nigerian state to
listen to the political solution of this area that has resulted in what you are
finding MEND doing. When you say militarily, what you are getting here is a
signal of sabotage. It is not about winning or losing."