29 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Foreign analysts have warned that militants’ attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta could rise by 60 percent in 2018, plunging Nigeria into another round of low revenue as a result of low oil production.
According to a political analyst at Teneo Intelligence, Manji Cheto, unrest is brewing in the Niger Delta as a result of government’s failed promises and so, the current peace in the region would not likely last for long.
There are too many militant groups with competing interests, and many of Pan Niger Delta Elders Forum, PANDEF’s, demands are too ambitious to achieve in the short term, she said.
“It’s rather hopeful to say peace in the Niger Delta will hold”.
The odds of attacks resuming by year end are low, perhaps 30 percent, according to Cheto. But the chances will ramp up next year to about 60 percent as campaigning begins for Nigeria’s February, 2019 presidential elections. A major factor will be whether southerners perceive that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has spearheaded negotiations, is being sidelined, she added.
Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy, takes a more positive view.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s government will strive to keep the peace during the campaign year, it said.
The firm believes that Buhari has increased payments to former militants through the amnesty program and awarded new security contracts to militant-linked firms.
New groups will likely carry out attacks in the hopes of securing similar payouts, Eurasia Group says, but it is uncertain if they can carry out sophisticated attacks similar to strikes by the Niger Delta Avengers and the Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, it added.
“While not our base case, it is possible that one such group could acquire the resources to pull off a major attack that significantly disrupts oil production. But, even in that scenario, the administration will likely respond promptly with diplomatic overtures, reducing any further impact on production volumes,” Eurasia Group’s senior Africa analyst Amaka Anku wrote in a research note this month.
“Militant groups are running out of patience, the government is unable to deliver on its promises, the president is a ‘lame duck’, and the umbrella group negotiating on behalf of the militants shows signs of disintegration,” Malte Liewerscheidt , senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft wrote in a briefing this month.
“All of this suggests that the current period of ostensible tranquility in the oil-producing Niger Delta could be over soon as the country heads towards elections in 2019,” he said.
Since the relative peace in the Delta, Nigeria’s oil production has rebounded to 1.8 million barrels a day.