27 June 2016, Lagos — The Niger Delta Avengers, a Nigerian militant group which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on oil facilities in the country’s southern energy hub, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to visit the region.
The militant group says it wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished Delta region. Crude sales make up about 70 percent of Nigeria’s national income and most of that oil comes from the southern swampland.
Last week, Petroleum Ministry officials said the government had agreed to a one-month ceasefire with the militants, but the group later denied that.
“President Buhari should visit Niger Delta,” the Avengers said on their Twitter feed on Saturday.
Last month Buhari, a 73-year-old former military ruler, canceled a trip to the region at the last minute, days before flying to London to receive treatment for an ear infection. It would have been his first visit to the area since taking office in May 2015.
“Mr. President, come and see for yourself what the host communities are going through in the hands of Nigeria government and the multinationals,” the group said in a message on its website, adding that he should go to various export terminals.
On Twitter, the group, which has previously called for the Niger Delta to break away, also urged Buhari to hold a referendum “just like what David Cameron of Great Britain did” to enable people to “decide if they want to stay as Nigerians”.
Nigeria, an OPEC member, was Africa’s top oil producer until the spate of attacks in the last few months pushed it behind Angola. Production has fallen from 2.2 million barrels at the start of the year to around 1.6 million barrels.
*Tife Owolabi & Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing Catherine Evans – Reuters