Delta Dilemmas: Buhari and Nigeria's South-South Zone

The oil rich Niger Delta region has been a policy and political challenge to successive administrations in Nigeria since the 1960s. Between 1999 and 2015 it featured prominently in the policy priorities of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). This has not been the case with President Muhammadu Buhari, whose election to office in 2015 was based on an overarching promise of 'change', with a specific focus on tackling insecurity, corruption and youth employment. There was no clear-cut policy agenda for Nigeria's Niger Delta region at the beginning of President Buhari's administration in 2015. But the challenges that made the Niger Delta a policy priority to previous governments remained much the same as they always had. The oil industry continued to be the main source of public revenue for the Nigerian government. The development deficits that contribute to armed militancy and protests by ethnic minorities in the region, also persisted. Oil industry induced environmental pollution remained an everyday reality. And the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) initiated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to facilitate the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of armed militants in the Niger Delta was ongoing and the infrastructural and human capacity development needs that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), had identified, remained unfulfilled. As a result, President Buhari inherited a development and security conundrum in the Niger Delta.