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The Niger Delta region, also referred to as the South-South geo-political zone is made up of six
states – Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, and Rivers States. It is a region made up
of a number of ethnic nationalities mainly, Ijaw, Ekwere, Ibo, Efiks, Mbembe, Ejagham, Yakurr,
to mention a few. This region with a population of 31 million people, is a vast coastal plain in the
southernmost part of Nigeria, where one of West Africa‟s longest rivers empties into the Atlantic
Ocean between the Bights of Benin and Biafra, in the Gulf of Guinea. It is situated within the
wetland area of Nigeria with the most extensive freshwater swamp forest and rich biological
diversity, and out of an area of about 70,000 square Kms, covered by the region, 36 Sq Kms
alone is covered in marshland, creeks, tributaries and lagoons, therefore, making it the largest
wetland in Africa and one of the largest in the world, while the rest is a lowland rainforest zone
(Obi, 2010)
The thrust of this paper is not to give a historical account of the conflict in the Niger Delta but
the amnesty initiative adopted in the region cannot be talked about devoid of the reason behind
the need for the act. It should be noted that the conflict in the Niger delta region pre dates the
colonial period, discovery of crude oil and the Nigerian independence. As a result of this, it isn‟t
far-fetched to assert that the region had been laden with Militancy even before the discovery of
crude oil at the Oloibiri in 1956.
Ayodele, (1999); Hargreaves, (1996); Tamuno, (1999), all traced the era of militancy in the
Niger delta to the time of Jaja of Opobo, Ovonramwem N‟Ogbaisi of Benin establishing that the
British interest in the Niger Delta or Oil Rivers goes back to 1851 earlier before the 1885
proclamation of the region as a British Protectorate. The militancy witnessed in this era was such
that the british dominance and control of the palm oil trade was resisted by the Deltan Kings,
although a futile effort because the British did dominate the oil trade without regard to the
development of the region or its inhabitants.
The expectation and hope that came with the discovery of oil in the region was short-lived, when
rather than provide development and improvement in the region it has brought about agony and
penury to the people. This has led to the use of petitions, civil agitations and now militant
agitations as a way through which the Niger Deltans have cried out their plight. The lack of
attention from the government towards their plight led to a lot of actions, one of recountable
measure was the creation of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) which
was headed by Ken Saro-Wiwa who was an activist and this groups activities gave much leeway
to the conflict as to them, it was a struggle and quest for self-determination.
A different era of militancy sprung up following the arrest and death of Ken Saro-Wiwa and the
Other Ogoni 8, rather than be deterred this led to the emergence of various militant groups who
saw the Ogoni 9 killings as an act of Martyrdom. These new groups all chose to live by the
sword in a bid to achieve their ends and as such have taken up arms to drive their point. The
blessings the discovery of oil was meant to bring has instead led to the pollution of the water and
rivers through the exploration and exploitation of their lands, which has in turn has made their
occupation of fishing and agriculture to become an almost impossibility with no possible
solution in sight.
The inability of the oil companies and Nigerian Government to reduce the negative impact the
exploration of oil has reeked/ wreaked on the region has motivated the oil producing
communities to move against the Nigerian state through a chain of events ranging from peaceful
protests to violent protests and an increase in the perpetuation of oil bunkering, kidnapping and
pipeline vandalisation.
President Umar Musa Yar‟Adua on June 25, 2009, granted amnesty to all persons involved in the
Militant activities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, whether directly or indirectly. The
amnesty initiative which was a sort of last resort tactic by the president to proffer a solution to
the lingering crisis inherent in that region, gave a 60 days window from the adoption of the
initiative for the militants to lay down their arms. The realization that the activities of the militant
groups if left unchecked could become a problem for Nigeria‟s economy led to this decision of
the government in power at the time. Before the granting of amnesty President Yar‟Adua had
tried other solutions such as drawing up the Niger Delta Master Plan, establishment of a Niger
Delta Ministry (Ikenya and Iwuagwu, (2009); Omotola, (2010). The Amnesty Programme was
categorized into three phases: Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. The
disarmament was to last from August 6th to 4th October 2009; demobilization was to last for a
period of six to twelve months; while reintegration was to last for five years, which would end in
the year 2015- a year which was to hold the presidential election.
The Amnesty Programme was an avenue for the willing militants to surrender their weapons in
exchange for skill acquisition, financial benefits and a host of other benefits that would follow.
The terms of the amnesty included the willingness and readiness of these agitators to surrender
their arms, unconditionally renounce militancy and sign an undertaking to this effect. In return,
the government pledged its commitment to institute programmes to assist the disarmament,
demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of repentant ex-agitators. The major objective of
the amnesty programme was to stabilize, consolidate and sustain the security conditions in the
Niger Delta as a ground for economic development in the area. Following the proclamation of
amnesty for the militants, the region has been transformed from the once volatile area to one
where peace, safety, security and sustainable development is present. This relative peace has
aided in the growth of Nigeria‟s oil production from the 700,000s barrels per day as at the first
week of January 2009 to between 2.4 to 2.6 million barrels per day as at April, 2012.
At the end of the disarmament period, it was viewed as a huge success by many owing to the
fact that it reduced most of the problems being faced in that region. The laying down of arms by
the militants seemingly brought about relative peace to the Niger Delta in particular and Nigeria
as a whole. There was visible reduction in the violent activities in the region as well as an
increase in the oil export of Nigeria.
This study critically examines the amnesty programme of the administration and the challenges it
has been confronted with in terms of arguments for and against it. The study comes up with
suggestions on the ways in which the gains of the amnesty programme can be sustained and/or
improved upon in a way to favor all those involved.
Just like every strategy or arrangement made by the Nigerian government, The Amnesty program
which was implemented by the late former President Umaru Musa Yar‟Adua has met with
visible challenges. Owing largely to the lackadaisical attitude of the system of government where
rather than continue the initiatives or operation of previous leaders, the present ones come in and
take up new approaches to running their government.
The thrust of this paper is to ascertain how far the amnesty initiative of late President Umaru
Musa Yar‟Adua has achieved success in quelling the issue of militancy in the region of the Niger
Delta and also to identify and proffer solutions to the challenges faced along the way. The
problems include:
1. The exclusive nature of the Amnesty: The beneficiaries of this amnesty program has
been the militants, no thought has gone to the victims of the conflict or the families that
they left behind. This program didn‟t take into consideration, mothers and children who
had lost their husbands and fathers, sons who were killed during the crisis and the people
who had to move from their homes because they were displaced. It is rather focused on
the people who were responsible for all the death and destruction in the region.
2. Lack of cooperation: This is visible on the part of the former militants who have been
provided an opportunity to join the rest of civil society and make a better living for
themselves. The Amnesty Program has provided them with an opportunity to create
better futures for themselves by enrolling them in schools, entrepreneurial training
centers and providing them with menial job opportunities, but rather than cooperate fully
with the system, they prefer to act out against all the program stands to benefit them.
3. The amnesty initiative has not been focused in addressing the root causes of the crisis in
the Niger Delta Region, it is rather focused in the acts of disarming, rehabilitating and
reintegrating the militants in the Nigerian state.
The main objective of this study is to determine how effective the amnesty program has been in
resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta while the specific objectives are stated as follows
i. To examine the challenges faced by the government in implementing this
ii. To determine the extent to which the amnesty program has been a success
iii. To determine if the initiative is capable of providing genuine and lasting peace
iv. To proffer an alternative solution to the crisis situation in the Niger Delta Region
i. What are the challenges faced by the government in implementing the amnesty
ii. To what extent has the amnesty program been a success?
iii. Is the amnesty program capable of providing genuine and lasting peace?
iv. Are there alternative solutions to the crisis in the Niger Delta Region?
The study will examine the effect of Militancy on the overall well-being of the Niger Delta
Region, thereby shedding light on ways through which issues of militancy can be addressed in a
bid to forestall further occurrences and also to ascertain whether the amnesty program is a
gainful solution to problems of this nature. It will add to the knowledge and existing literature on
the relationship that exists between the crisis in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and the
amnesty initiative of the government and its overall impact on the socio-economy of Nigeria.
This study will articulate the progress the amnesty initiative has made in providing a peaceful
and habitable atmosphere for both everyday life of the citizens and the production of crude oil
and its products in order to meet domestic consumption.
This study is going to cover the period between the years of 2008-2014. In the process of
carrying out this study, facts that led up to the uprising in the Niger Delta region would be
reviewed. But unfortunately, as important as this study is, knowledge is restricted to newspaper
reports and news telecast.
There are obvious limitations to this study which includes; inability to have access to some
organizations publications which would have helped to enhance this study. The lack of resources
such as funds needed to embark on extensive research especially in relation to visiting these
regions. Finally, time constraints and lack of published materials has limited this study.
Irrespective of these limitations, the available materials and data obtained from libraries, books,
journals and the internet were utilized in order to produce the work. As regards the time
constraints, it made it difficult to conduct interviews and distribute questionnaires, so only the
Secondary sources of obtaining data was adopted in the work.
Chapter one comprises of the background of the study, statement of the problem, objective of the
study, research question and the scope of the study.
Chapter two is the literature review which comprises of the conceptual framework, empirical
review and the theoretical framework.
Chapter three is the chapter which contains the research methodology, which will be used for the
Chapter four shows the data analysis and interpretation of results.
Chapter five summarizes, concludes and makes recommendation for the study.


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