The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu made the call after attacks in the last two weeks on the Trans Forcados Pipeline, the main contributor to the Forcados crude stream, the most recent of which was claimed by the Niger Delta Avengers militant group on Wednesday.
The attacks took place despite most groups adhering to a ceasefire in the last few weeks while the government pursued talks with community leaders who, like the militants, want a greater share of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the region that produces most of its oil.
He said in a statement from the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Mr. Idang Alibi, in Abuja, that the development was a setback to ongoing dialogue between the Federal Government and stakeholders in the region.
He however added that it would not deter him and other ministers of the government from the region, from pursuing the path of dialogue which he noted remains the best path to a peaceful and prosperous Niger Delta.
According to the statement, Kachikwu “expressed his grave concern and disappointment about the recent pipeline attacks”, particularly coming after a meeting between local leaders and the president.
“He urges all militants to stop and give the ensuing dialogue a chance to birth peace in the region,” said the statement.
The statement explained that three attacks have taken place over the last two weeks even whilst efforts were ongoing to prepare the grounds for dialogue.
It said: “The Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources is saddened that despite months of intensive personal and collective efforts to engage all stakeholders in the region and despite the recent success in convening a meeting with His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari to begin exploring the opportunities for deepening the dialogue, that these attacks have continued.”
“He condemns these wanton attacks and reiterates that the path to providing lasting solutions for the Niger Delta challenges remains dialogue.
“He further appeals and enjoins all interested stakeholders in the Niger Delta to embrace the path of peace and dialogue and shun acts that further create difficulties for the country, impoverish the region and worsen the ecological problems of the region,” the statement added.
While stressing Kachikwu’s stance on a peaceful approach to the Niger Delta challenges, the statement said: “He urges all militants to stop and give the ensuing dialogue a chance to birth peace in the region.”
Earlier this month President Muhammadu Buhari met with leaders from the southern swampland for the first time since the attacks began in January. They urged him to pull the army out of the region, order oil firms to move their headquarters there and spend more on development to end the militancy.