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Nigeria working to distribute oil wealth

World Bank report found oil dependence makes for a lopsided Nigerian economy.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Nigeria working to distribute oil wealth
Administration of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pledges to improve business climate and help distribute some of the oil wealth to the people living in the Niger Delta. Pool photo by Ron Sachs/UPI | License Photo

ABUJA, Nigeria, June 7 (UPI) -- With an oil sector under militant threat, the Nigerian government said it would develop strategies to improve its business climate to the benefit of the people.

A militant group in Nigeria calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers is waging war on the international and national oil companies working in the Niger Delta. In a manifesto earlier this year, the group said it would make oil companies "suffer as you have made the people of the Niger Delta suffer over the years from environmental degradation and environment pollution."

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The group has accused the government of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari of favoring oil interests over the interests of the people in the region.

A statement on social media attributed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the government was working to ensure the losses incurred during the attacks were minimized.

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"We are talking, we are ensuring that we minimize losses and we are stepping up security," he said. "We are also engaging the international oil companies to see what options exists."

A report from the World Bank finds the job market in Nigeria is polarized as the vast majority of the population are trapped in low-productivity and traditional subsistence activities. While most Nigerians do have jobs, they work in jobs that don't pay very well. Only a small portion of the workforce is benefiting from any economic growth in the country, the report found.

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According to the vice president, the Buhari administration is working "to ensure that the man on the street in the Niger Delta receives the benefit from all that is available there."

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The Nigerian militant group has said its war is focused on oil installations. By the World Bank's estimates, more than 70 percent of the government revenue comes from oil.

"The dependence on oil has in turn led to underdevelopment of other revenue sources and prevented improvements in governance," the bank said.

The vice president, for his part, said the government was working on a plan to improve its business rankings through a recently-formed presidential commission on trade.

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"In the next few months, we should be seeing some changes," he said.

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