*Govt to meet Niger Delta leaders, militants, on October 31
25 October 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has announced that it will hold a meeting with community leaders and representatives of militants from the Niger Delta next week in Abuja to end the insurgents’ attacks on oil facilities in the southern region, two government sources told news agencies on Monday.
Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, yesterday, served a fresh warning to the Federal Government that it would resume bombing of oil facilities if the government made any further mistake to enter into negotiation with selfish leaders in the region that represented themselves instead of the interest of the people.
This came as Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, endorsed the October 31 meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, aimed at finding solutions to the current Niger Delta crisis.
Attacks on Nigeria’s energy facilities by groups calling for the Delta region to receive a greater share of the OPEC member’s oil wealth has cut crude production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day at the start of the year, by a third.
Nigeria has been holding talks for months to end the violence but no lasting ceasefire has been agreed do far in the oil hub where many complain about poverty despite providing much of Nigeria’s oil exports.
“An enlarged Niger Delta stakeholders dialogue will be held in Abuja on October 31,” one of the sources said.
The sources stated that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu and possibly President Muhammadu Buhari would take part in the session, one of the sources said. Buhari’s spokesman declined to comment.
Buhari has called for dialogue but not taken part in any previous meetings which took part in the Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for most of the attacks on energy facilities in the region since the start of the year, had initially declared a ceasefire in August but then claimed another attack last month.
The Avengers in a statement accused some unnamed selfish but vociferous Niger Delta leaders and groups of appropriating the overall interest of the region to themselves and cronies while the majority wallow in penury.
A spokesman for the NDA, who gave his name as Col. Rightman Hudson Opukurowari, warned that any attempt by the government to engage in any form of dialogue with Niger Delta leaders who had allegedly hijacked the commonwealth of the people for their selfish interest would be resisted.
Opukurowari said: “Since we had agreed to suspend bombing oil facilities and enter into genuine dialogue with the government, the administration has not shown any seriousness in talking to the right set of people to move the peace process forward.
“Two months after the ceasefire, it has become clear to the world that this government has not been sincere and serious in meeting the simple demands of the people to put in place a concrete plan of transforming the landscape and giving us any sense of hope despite our critical contribution to the commonwealth of the nation.”
He added that “From the way the government is going after we had suspended bombings, it is clear to the world that the Federal Government is not ready to make peace with us as earlier promised and we are under pressure to resume our attacks.
“It is obvious that the Muhammadu Buhari administration has rather chosen to be nonchalant to the dialogue and has deliberately decided to invite only their political friends for a dinner in the name of dialogue, by their own selective measures, thereby ignoring the chance for real peace and dialogue with the appropriate persons and groups.
Another group, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, which has never agreed to cease hostilities, has claimed several attacks on crude pipeline run by state oil firm NNPC since last month.
Nigeria agreed in 2009 with major militant groups on a ceasefire to end a previous insurgency but previously unknown groups took up arms again after authorities tried to arrest a former militant leader on corruption charges.
Any ceasefire would be difficult to enforce as the militant scene is splintered into small groups made up of angry young unemployed men which even their leaders struggle to control.