24 May 2016, Lagos — Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, believes that military option cannot bring about an end to the militancy in the Niger Delta region.
Describing militants as “my brothers”, Kachikwu recommended dialogue as a viable option to end the restiveness in the Niger Delta.
He was speaking in Lagos on Monday during an interactive session on the removal of fuel subsidy organised by Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
“The military barrels cannot stop or solve the problem of militancy in the Niger–Delta region. I will have to go back to my brothers, they are our brothers we will go and dialogue with them,” he said.
Kachikwu’s remark is coming a week after Edwin Clark, elder statesman, advised President Muhammadu Buhari against relying on military option alone.
The minister also said the current administration was targeting 2019 to end fuel importation in the country, revealing steps that were being taken to achieve that goal.
“For the first time, I am putting so much strength in terms of what do we do with our refineries because that ultimately is the solution,” he said.
“I must make the refineries work so that the staff can justify their work.
“I am going around looking for investors to come in a joint venture basis to put in money into the refineries and make them work.
“I can authoritatively say to you that given the constraints that we face, the plan is that by December 2018 we should have reduced our importation of petroleum product by 60 per cent.
“This is because we would have brought enough money to get our refineries working to the tune of about 90 percent.”
He said for the first time in 10 years, the three refineries were working, but at less than 40 percent capacity.
Kachikwu added that by the time the refineries were working at optimal capacity and the commencement of production by Dangote Refinery in 2019, Nigeria would be able to refine 1.4 million barrels per day.
He said his desire was to increase the current production capacity from 2.2 million barrels per day to 2.6 million barrels within the next few years.
Kachikwu said the liberalisation of the sector would encourage competition and bring the price of fuel down within the next few months.