As oil production plunges and pipelines explode left and right, Nigeria’s government finally decided to start negotiating. The Nigerian president’s office announced last week that it is using intermediaries to negotiate with militants in the Niger Delta, raising hopes that the restive oil-producing region might begin to quiet down soon. Reuters:
A Nigerian former militant group said on Sunday it has been holding talks with the government to end a wave of attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta which has crippled the country’s crude output.
On Thursday, the office of President Muhammadu Buhari said the government was using oil firms and security agencies to talk to the militants “to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region”.
“The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to confirm that indeed it has been in preliminary talks with the Federal Government through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies,” the group said in a statement.
There’s only one hitch—these talks don’t include the Niger Delta Avengers. That’s right, Nigeria is holding negotiations right now with the little league militants; the new, menacing group responsible for cutting Nigeria’s oil output by a third isn’t even at the table. Sounds like someone in Abuja could use a refresher on Negotiating 101; maybe The Art of the Deal would do the trick. Reuters again:
[The government] said the Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that has claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks, would not be part of the dialogue.
“The Federal Government made it clear during our meetings that a negotiation with criminals is out of the question,” MEND said. “The Niger Delta Avengers…fall under this category.”
The Niger Delta Avengers group had on Thursday said it was not aware of any talks with the government.
Security sources have linked the Avengers to former commanders in MEND. Both groups hail from the same area.
Meanwhile, the Avengers are making it clear that they are in fact a separate group. They’re claiming responsibility for blowing up yet another pipeline in the Delta last night, shortly after the government announced that negotiations with MEND were ongoing. Apparently, the Avengers aren’t happy to be excluded from the talks.
— Dré Nwadugbo (@AndreBluntz) July 25, 2016
This much is clear: Nigeria’s woes are just beginning. Oil revenues are down, deficits are up, and the economy is entering a recession. The state of Africa’s largest economy is set to get worse before it gets better.