11 October 2011
It is two years since the then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua offered amnesty to restive militant groups in the Niger Delta area of the country, asking them to lay down their arms and embrace peaceful resolution of the issues at stake.
A 60-day disarmament period had commenced on August 6, 2009, and ended on October 4, of the same year. Initially greeted with cynicism and scepticism, the amnesty deal eventually succeeded, with a total of 20,192 ex-militants embracing the offer.
Before the presidency extended the olive branch, insurgency had wreaked enormous havoc on the country’s economy, particularly in the area of oil prospecting. Crude oil production had dropped to as low as 700,000 barrels per day, and
stood the risk of financial strangulation on all fronts. Nigeria
Equally, there was social disequilibrium, as the Niger Delta landscape was covered with acts like kidnapping of expatriates, bombings, sabotage of oil installations, and general breakdown of law and order. At a time, it became a full blown confrontation between the militants and the Nigerian Army.
With the amnesty proclamation, tension eventually died down in the region. Warlords laid down their arms, and prevailed on their followers to embrace peace. Today, two years later, crude oil production has risen to 2.7 million barrels per day, and the expatriate community can work without anxiety and a sense of apprehension.