Nigeria has almost tripled its Niger Delta Amnesty budget to 30 billion naira.
On Saturday, the oil-producing nation's government disclosed that the funding for the amnesty program was increased. The program, which aids the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-militants, was put in place to maintain peace in the Oil Rivers region.
The statement from the Nigerian administration disclosed that the 30 billion naira (US$98.47 million) would be released to the former militants soon, followed by an additional 5 billion naira at a later stage. Prior to last year, the allotted budget for the amnesty was 20 billion naira.
The amnesty program grants each former militant 65,000 naira a month in addition to job training. Funding of former militants, which emerged under a 2009 amnesty agreement, is crucial to maintaining stability in the Delta region and stemming attacks on the oil facilities.
In March a special adviser to the president said the program was low on funds. This prompted the former militant leaders, in the Niger Delta, to “urge” the government to pay out the delayed amnesty stipends or face protests.
A recent release from the administration stated: "Currently the Amnesty Office has now paid up all ex-militants backlog of their stipends up to the end of 2016." Authorities had previously cut the budget for payments to militants, but later resumed payments after the pipelines came under threat.
Any attack or standoff in the Delta affects the oil revenues. Last year, the Nigerian Government was forced to hold talks with the militants to end the attacks that reduced oil output by 700,000 barrels a day (bpd) for several months. The dissension decreased the total production to about 1.2 million bpd.
Damage from attacks on the oil industry has led to a downturn in Africa's largest economy. Crude oil sales make up about two-thirds of the government's revenue. Last year, low oil prices caused Nigeria to slip into recession for the first time in 25 years.