Nigeria is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars to Ex Militants
Govt. rewards Oil bandits with contracts
Alhaji Dokubo-Asari and a crew that he ran bled oil from pipelines in the mangrove-choked creeks of the Niger Delta and sold it to smugglers.
Last year, The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) began paying Alhaji Asari Dokubo $9 million (about N1.5 billion) a year, by Mr. Asari Dokubo’s account, to pay his 4,000 former foot soldiers to protect the pipelines they once attacked.
The Nigerian state oil company, according to one of its senior officials, is also giving $3.8 million a year apiece to two former rebel leaders, Gen. Ebikabowei “Boyloaf” Victor Ben and Gen. Ateke Tom, to have their men guard delta pipelines they used to attack. Another general, Government “Tompolo” Ekpumopolo, maintains a $22.9 million-a-year contract to do the same, the official said.
Militants in Nigeria’s Niger Delta began a campaign of kidnappings and pipeline bombings in the early 2000s, upset over pollution and the region’s endemic poverty.Oil production dropped to as 500,000 barrels at one point. After a government-sponsored amnesty program in 2009, violence dropped and production went back up to 2.6 million barrels daily.
Nigeria continues to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to maintain an uneasy calm in the region, where attacks ranging from theft to bombings to kidnappings continues.
This year alone, Nigeria will spend about $450 million (about N7.2 billion) on its amnesty programme, according to the government’s 2012 budget, more than what it spends to deliver basic education to children.
Under the arrangement, the government grants living allowances to tens of thousands of former members of the bandits and sends them to vocational classes, in sites ranging from Houston to London to Seoul. These costs are on top of millions of dollars paid at the outset to the crews’ leaders for handing-in their weapons.
While richly remunerated former kingpins profess to have left the oil-theft business, many former militant foot soldiers who are paid less or not at all by the amnesty, and have few job prospects, continue to pursue prosperity by tapping pipelines.
Now, oil theft appears to be on the rise again. Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN -1.24%PLC’s Nigerian unit estimates that more than 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen from Nigerian pipelines daily. That is one of the lower estimates. In May, theft from one pipeline got so bad that Shell simply shut it down.
But oil theft, a lucrative criminal industry, has drawn many militants new and old back into the delta’s winding creeks.
Source: Wall Street Journal