10 July 2016 – The new kids on the block
There is a new militant group emerging in Nigeria’s oil rich rich Delta region. They are called the Niger Delta Avengers. They are filling the void left by their predecessors, MEND, the Movement for the Emancipation for the Niger Delta. Like MEND, they are blowing up oil pipelines and terminals in an effort to gain greater control of their region’s coveted resource. It’s not hard to understand why. Oil accounts for over 50% of state revenues, but yet half of the people in this region live on less than a dollar a day. The Niger Delta Avengers are attempting to correct this injustice.
The successor to MEND
MEND began to quickly unwind in 2009 when they were bought off with an amnesty. The Amnesty budget has been cut dramatically, with the ushering in of the Buhari regime. Some say it has been cut by up to two thirds. Moreover, Buhari has expressed his intent to abolish this budget altogether. This is happening while Nigeria struggles to maintain the economic growth rates of yesteryear amid suppressed oil prices. As a result many former members of MEND have become discontent, and have come together to launch yet another offensive. This time under the moniker of the Niger Delta Avengers. The ring leader is said to be a man by the name of Tompolo, but he and the Avengers deny any link.
Buhari is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is currently under a lot of pressure to slow down the contraction of Nigeria’s economy and safeguard the Naira against further depreciation. To achieve this he will need to make budget cuts wherever he can. In doing this minimising the amnesty payments to MEND is an obvious choice. This of course may mean that the Niger Delta Avengers will continue to sabotage oil assets in the Delta region which could cost Nigeria 40% of this years crude oil earnings. Crude oil is the primary driver of the country’s economy. The short term future of Nigeria’s economy may lie in the hands of this newly formed militant group. The coming months will prove pivotal in deciding to what extent the status quo is disrupted.