(Adds details, background)
ABUJA, March 21 Nigeria has given contractors 30
days to resume delayed development projects in the Niger Delta
oil region or face prosecution, the presidency said on Tuesday.
The government has been trying to build new roads and launch
other projects to drag the region out of poverty and create
jobs, aiming to give local people alternatives to joining the
militants attacking oil facilities.
The government has "directed that the list of all
contractors who have not returned to site within the stipulated
period be compiled and submitted to the Ministry of Justice and
the Economic Financial Crimes Commission for investigation and
prosecution," it said in a statement.
Many projects have been delayed due to the collapse in oil
revenues or to graft accusations.
The presidency also ordered the ministry of environment to
ensure "progress" of an cleanup of oil spills in the Ogoniland
area, a project delayed for years.
"The Federal Government has issued a new set of directives
in its bid to accelerate the implementation of the (President
Muhammadu) Buhari administration's new vision for the
development of the Niger Delta," it said in a statement,
referring to the contractors' order.
The government has been holding talks with militants to end
attacks on oil production facilities which cut the OPEC member's
output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.
But a lack of development and an army crackdown on thousands
of illegal refineries in the southern swamps, which process
crude oil stolen from oil majors and state oil firm NNPC, have
Militants behind last year's attacks called for more of
Nigeria's energy wealth to go to the Delta.
Crude sales make up two-thirds of government revenue. Vice
President Osinbajo, whose office issued Tuesday's statement, has
visited the region several times this year to calm tensions.
Last year's attacks, combined with subdued oil prices, were
a major factor in Africa's largest economy shrinking 1.5 percent
in 2016 - its first full-year contraction in 25 years. There
have been no attacks so far in 2017.
(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by