YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigeria will soon pay all the overdue cash stipends it owes former militants who signed up for an amnesty in 2009 in the Niger Delta oil hub, the government said on Thursday.
Militants have threatened to resume attacking oil facilities should the cash payments not be made.
“We advise all to remain calm as all stipend arrears and other outstanding payments under the program will soon be paid,” the office of the government amnesty program said in a statement.
The government has been holding talks with militants to end attacks on crude pipelines, which reduced Nigeria’s output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.
Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments to militants to end corruption. They later resumed payments to keep pipeline attacks from crippling vital oil revenues.
Two months of stipends were paid out in January, but the amnesty office said foreign schools fees and other allowances had not been sent by the federal government yet.
Each former militant is entitled under the amnesty to 65,000 naira ($213.68) a month plus job training.
President Muhammadu Buhari met Niger Delta leaders and representatives for the militants in November to discuss their demands but little progress has emerged publicly since then.
The militants and residents who sympathize with them say they want a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished region.
Crude sales make up about 70 percent of government revenue and the attacks have worsened an economic crisis brought on by low global oil prices.
($1 = 304.2000 naira)
Reporting by Tife Owolabi and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Larry King