Acting Nigeria leader hopeful on Niger Delta peace

Nigeria’s Acting President Goodluck Jonathan expects swift progress reviving an amnesty programme in the oil-producing Niger Delta and recent talks with militants give grounds for hope, his spokesman said on Monday.

Maintaining peace in the Niger Delta, the heartland of the OPEC member’s oil industry, is one of the four top priorities for Jonathan, who assumed full executive powers last week in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua, spokesman Ima Niboro said.

The Niger Delta amnesty, under which thousands of gunmen laid down weapons last year, was driven by Yar’Adua and has faltered since his hospitalisation in Saudi Arabia almost three months ago, with militants threatening to resume attacks.

“We have completed the disarmament process and we are going to the next stage now, we need to get the militant leaders on board,” Niboro told News  Agency .

Niboro said five amnesty committees — including government officials, members of the oil industry and activists from the delta — had been holding talks with militant leaders and were due to report back to Jonathan in the coming days.

“The committees are working. They are in touch with the leaders and militants and in a short while the contentious issues will be resolved,” he said.

Years of attacks on Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry have prevented Nigeria from producing much above two thirds of its oil capacity, costing it around $1 billion a month in lost revenues and adding to volatility in world oil markets.



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