Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu has called on militants in the Niger Delta region operating as the Niger Delta Avengers to “sheath their sword and embrace dialogue” with the federal government.
Kachikwu disclosed this posture of the government during a meeting with some members of the Nigerian press in Abuja.
The minister referred to the militants as his “brothers” and admitted that “a lot of things that ought to have been done” were left undone by the government.
He also lamented the drop in oil production saying that the recent activities of the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers’ has reduced oil output by 600,000 barrels per day.
Kachukwu revealed that the Nigerian government had made contact with some people involved, especially those whom the government believed could influence the process of dialogue.
He assured that the government was ready to intensify development efforts in the oil rich region of the country. He also acknowledged that the government was in a difficult situation because it may be forced to “use arms against its own citizens”.
Dr. Kachikwu maintained that oil production was hovering between 1.5 million to 1.6 million per barrels per day, down from 2.2 million barrels, the benchmark in Buhari’s 2016 budget. The Niger Delta Avengers claim the group has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day.
An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group aiming to reduce oil production in the country to zero.
“My first appeal will be to my brothers who are engaged in these acts of protest to sheath their sword and daggers and come back to the table so that we can have a conversation,” Ibe Kachikwu said.
“There is no doubt that over the decades of oil production, a lot of things that ought to have been done in the oil geographical areas were not done.
The junior minister of petroleum who is also group general manager of Nigeria’s state controlled oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, says that Buhari has appointed a team to dialogue with Niger Delta Avengers and the team would be led by the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno. Kachikwu, ‘opinion leaders’ and all the service chiefs would make up the team.
He also said that the negotiations would end in one week during which time the national security adviser had directed that the Nigerian military “de-skills” the intensity of the military operations in the oil -rich region.
“The answer to the issue will not be heating up the grounds. The federal government is committed to continue the dialogue and the president has appointed a team.”
“Probably, we will suspend the operation of the military in the region for a week or two for individuals in the creeks to converge for the dialogue.”
“We are making effort to see how we get the barrels back but my attitude is that when citizens are harping on something, we need to engage,” he said.
“The take of the president is to try and engage in a dialogue, I know that given the intensity of the attack, it has caused a lot of trouble.
“Both in terms of production and continuity of production and certainty of career plans in the oil industry, the best option is ensure adequate security measures in those areas.”