The  Niger Delta Avengers have gained prominence since the turn of the year following attacks on oil facilities as part of a stated goal to “cripple the Nigerian economy”. The group’s attacks, which have also targeted gas pipelines, have affected Nigeria’s fragile electricity generation and distribution infrastructure resulting in lengthy blackouts across the country. Crucially, the attacks have also resulted in a steep dip in Nigeria’s oil exports which fell to a 20-year low last month and helped drive up global oil prices to a 2016 high.

Kachickwu says the group’s attacks have cost Nigeria “about 600,000 barrels” daily (valued at around $30 million based on current oil prices). This loss critically affects Nigeria’s fiscal plans as its national budget was planned with an oil export capacity of 2.2 million barrels daily as a basis for revenue.

A negotiation with a militant group in Nigeria’s oil-rich South is not without precedent. Following a spate of violence involving attacks on oil pipelines as well as kidnapping of expats by militant groups in the late 2000s, the Nigerian government met and negotiated with the groups, resolving to pay monthly stipends and provide vocational training in exchange for them to lay down their arms.

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