*No, we have not – Militants
21 August 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Less than 24 hours after denying reports of any negotiation with the Federal government, militants wreaking havoc to oil and gas facilities called the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), have “collectively and willingly” agreed to dialogue with the Federal Government to resolve the lingering crisis in the Niger Delta region.
The spokesman for the Dialogue Group, Mr. Ballantyne Agiri, who disclosed this in a signed statement made available to the media, in Abuja, said that the NDA had constituted contact and dialogue group to engage the Federal Government in meaningful dialogue as part of the initiatives to resolve the crisis.
He added that the group was determined to come out with results that would yield lasting peace, equity, justice and harmony among all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
“The body has collectively and willingly agreed to heed the clarion call of eminent Nigerians and the international community to dialogue with the Federal Government,” Agiri said.
He urged Nigerians and the international community to follow the event and watch out which side would default in terms of abiding by the rules and spirit of the dialogue.
“The Federal Government should from the inception of the dialogue rule out from the agenda any monthly monetary inducement or stipend for the NDA. The Government should be ready for structural changes that should be human and development oriented.
“Members of the Avengers’ group (who will participate in the dialogue) have already been selected, each based on his integrity, forthrightness, honesty and life track records. The names of members of the group, for now, shall not be made public for personal reasons until they begin functioning in few days ahead,” the spokesman said.
The NDA had claimed responsibility for series of bombings of oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta in the last few months.
The activities of the group had further worsened the economic fortunes of the country.
However, confusion still reigns in the already tense situation, with conflicting reports about the preparedness of the militants to engage government representatives in a dialogue. Some media have reported on Thursday that the Niger Delta Avengers militants said they were not ready to negotiate with the government.
“We are not ready for any negotiation or dialogue with the federal government,” the group, which has claimed most attacks in the oil-rich Niger River delta area since February, said in a tweet from an unverified handle.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu said last week that the government was trying to facilitate talks with several groups that have sabotaged export and production infrastructure in the region.
“What I am asking for largely is a 60-day cease-fire from them so that we can have time to dialogue and I’m also elevating dialogue” to include kings and traditional rulers, he said in an interview.
Nigeria will pump no more than 1.5 MMbopd of crude this year as sustained attacks have damaged facilities including its biggest export terminal, he said.