6 May 2007 - 13:00
  • News Code: 103938

YENAGOA - The people of the oil-rich Niger Delta see the rise of one of their own to vice president as an opportunity to reduce poverty and violence although activists say time is tight.

Goodluck Jonathan, governor of Bayelsa State in the delta and running mate of president-elect Umaru Yar`Adua, will carry the hopes of many in a region troubled by militancy when he assumes his new role on May 29.


"We are happy about it. He will bring development to the Niger Delta," said Nickson Ogoniba, who sells generator parts in the state capital Yenagoa, where there is almost no electricity.


"If the youths could find work, they would stop terrorizing us," he said as he washed clothes in a bucket in a mud alleyway.


Ogoniba lives in central Yenagoa, where militants fought with troops for two hours on the eve of an election that gave Yar`Adua and Jonathan their mandates -- a poll so flawed it was not credible, according to European observers.


Bayelsa is one of three major oil-producing states in the delta that generated $40 billion for the Nigerian government last year and hundreds of billions over the past five decades.


Yet most of the 10 million inhabitants in the three states have no job prospects, no electricity, no clean water and have to live with potholed roads, derelict schools and empty clinics.


This breeds anger towards government and foreign oil majors. An increasing number of armed groups demanding jobs, benefits or control of oil revenues have attacked industry facilities, kidnapped expatriate staff and fought with security forces.


Nigeria has lost 600,000 barrels per day in oil production since the rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) attacked oilfields in the western delta in February 2006.


Oil prices climbed further above $68 on Tuesday as traders eyed the possibility of further disruptions to Nigerian output after the contested election results.


In the build-up to the election, Nigerian government sources said Royal Dutch Shell would reopen the fields in May, in what could be a quick dividend from Jonathan`s victory.



News Code 103938

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