NIGERIA — Nigeria, the home to Africa’s largest hydrocarbon reserves, is planning to give local communities stakes in oil projects to stem attacks that have cut the country’s crude exports by more than 20% since 2006. The stakes would come from the government’s holdings, Emmanuel Egbogah, petroleum adviser to President Umaru Yar’Adua, said today in an interview in Cape Town. “We have latitude” to give them a share of projects, he said. “The property will be theirs so they will have no reason” to support further attacks.
Assaults in the southern Niger Delta, the hub of the nation’s oil industry, have disrupted production, curbed exports and endangered workers. The main armed group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, claims to be fighting for the region’s poor who are yet to benefit from its oil wealth.
Yar’Adua’s government has responded to the unrest by reinforcing military patrols, yet energy companies still cite insecurity as a major risk of operating in the delta.
The government will have to back its words with action, MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said today in an e-mailed statement, claiming that the militant group’s “tactics” have put the government under pressure. “We have heard such talk before and are not impressed,” he said.