Tensions have been building in the southern swampland since Nigeria’s President said in his inauguration speech in May that he wanted to "streamline" an amnesty, that included stipend payments, agreed in 2009 with militants who were fighting for a greater share of oil revenues and hampering output in Africa's biggest producer.
"There is nothing here, you can see for yourself,” said Douglas Oguta, deputy community chief of Yeneka village, in his home on the outskirts of Bayelsa state capital, Yenegoa in the Delta region, where development has lagged relative to the rest of Nigeria. “No water, no light, no road."
But handouts to the youths and former militants have not been paid for three months, according to "Ex-General Pastor" Reuben Wilson who warned in a statement of "catastrophic consequences" should the amnesty end.
The region gets an extra 13 percent from state revenues but corruption has stunted development in the Delta.
A new airport and new hospital never materialised in Yenagoa, where street vendors sell fried snails next to garbage piles. Life in the creeks, where basic services are almost non-existent, is even tougher.
The oil firms have tried to win over villages by bringing roads and water but community leaders say the projects are too little and poorly conceived - for instance setting up diesel generators that residents cannot afford to run.
"The oil companies are only interested in scooping out the oil and leave the impact to us," said Obunagha community elder Tari Dadiowei. "If the amnesty ends I don't know what will happen."