In order to find a lasting solution to the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region, the federal government has agreed to re-engage ex-militants and other groups from communities in the Niger DElta to protect the oil pipelines.
The federal government has also promised to restructure the amnesty programme so as to address the critical issue of neglect by the government and international oil companies, as claimed by the inhabitants of the region.
Nigeria’s crude production has dropped in recent times from about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to around 1.4 million bpd due the vandalisation of critical oil pipelines by agitators in the region, a development that has resulted in the country losing its place as Africa’s top oil producer to Angola.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration had, before now, threatened military action against the perpetrators who it had described as economic saboteurs.
But in a latest statement by the spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Garba Deen Muhammad, the federal government announced that it had resolved to work with stakeholders from the Niger Delta region to stop the recent upsurge in attacks on critical oil and gas installations, and to ensure security, stability and economic development of the area.
Speaking at the end of the meeting held in Abuja and attended by prominent Niger Delta leaders and other stakeholders, minister of state for petroleum resources and group managing director of the NNPC, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, expressed the government’s readiness to check the resurgence of pipeline sabotage in the region.
Present at the meeting were Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole; national security adviser (NSA), Maj. General Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd); minister for Niger Delta, Usani Uguru; minister of state for agriculture, Sen. Heneiken Lokpobiri; Coordinator Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd), and stakeholders from the seven Niger Delta states of Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta and Ondo states.
Kachikwu said all the stakeholders resolved that solutions to the incessant attacks on oil and gas pipelines are within the communities, stressing that communities were now saddled with the responsibility of ensuring protection of pipelines within their domain.
Accordingly, government resolved that “all the states in the region would nominate four or five representatives that would work hand-in-hand with security agencies to secure oil facilities in their respective states.”
The minister further stated that violence was not an option in resolving the problems of the Niger Delta and that all threats from the region should end henceforth.
He also noted that the Amnesty Programme needed to be restructured in order to address the critical issue of neglect by the government and international oil companies.
“The Niger Delta governors must be involved in providing lasting solutions to the resurgence of pipeline vandalism and there is urgent need to create business opportunities for the locals in the region,” Kachikwu stated.
Oshiomhole and other leaders of the Niger Delta region, who spoke at the meeting, urged the agitators to drop their arms and embrace dialogue as the federal government was committed to the development of the area.