The Nigerian government has expressed its commitment to dialogue with militants in the Niger Delta.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, said on Saturday that the presence of soldiers in the region does not mean the government was opposed to dialogue.
Speaking specifically about the Niger Delta Avengers, whose recent activities have caused a decline in Nigeria’s oil and power output, Mr. Lawal said the group needed to identify its representatives for a dialogue.
“Government is not averse to discussing with them (militants) but we need to know who is in charge and who we can discuss with meaningfully; that’s the dilemma of the government at the moment”, he said.
“There are so many groups making it difficult to know who to talk to and the level of control that group will bring to the process.”
He appealed to leaders of Niger Delta communities to intervene by calling the militants to order, pointing out that the activities of the militants were more inimical to the region than other parts of the country.
“When they blow up oil pipelines, the spill destroys their water and lands, a development that will take years to recover. They are more victims than the rest of Nigerians,” he said.
Mr. Lawal said the activities of the militants, which he described as “pure act of sabotage,” had seriously affected the nation’s crude oil export and energy supply”.
The group this weekend announced some of its recent sabotage of pipelines in Delta State.
It said it bombed an NNPC pipeline conveying crude to Warri refinery in Delta State on Friday night.
Between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the group announced four more attacks against oil facilities.
“At 11:26 p.m. on Saturday, @NDAvengers blow up (sic) two NPDC major crude trunk lines close to Batan Flow Station in Delta State.
“At 1:15 a.m. on Sunday, @NDAvengers blow (sic) up two major Chevron oil wells. Well 7 and Well 8 close to Abiteye Flow Station in Delta State,” the group said in tweets posted on its Twitter handle.
The group has rejected dialogue with the government and is demanding resource control for the Niger Delta.
Rebuilding North East
While speaking with journalists in his home state of Adamawa, Mr. Lawal said the federal government is committed to rebuilding the Boko Haram ravaged North East.
“We are very lucky in the North East because the president is passionate about the region; we have in the president a sympathiser to our problems,” he said.
“The Federal Government has started implementing this year’s budget, and there was substantial amount of money budgeted for projects in areas of infrastructure and rehabilitation in the region.
“The North East is going to experience a lot of reconstruction and rehabilitation this year.”