Avengers Embraces Dialogue, Gives Condition For Peace

The federal government’s efforts to restore peace in the troubled oil-rich Niger Delta region recorded a significant gain yesterday as the Niger Delta Avengers, the group that had been responsible for recent serial attacks on oil and gas pipelines in the region, said it was ready to discuss its grievances with the government.

The militant group’s turning of a new leaf, was largely due to pressure from the back channel contact made by the federal government’s negotiating team, headed by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu.

The group’s offer of dialogue was, however, predicated on International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in the region committing to send independent mediators to the dialogue, saying that was the only way it could have confidence in talk that is expected to chart the way forward for peace in the region.

The federal government’s team, which also include the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno, is mandated to reach out to the militants and other stakeholders in the region and find a way to end the violence that had adversely affected oil production output of the country, which had dwindled from 2.2m bpd to about 1.6m bpd. Only yesterday, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), said it had lost N60 billion in three months, owing to the break in its Forcados pipeline bombed by the NDA.

The NPDC’s loss is only a part of the general loss to the nation’s overall revenue loss manifested in the shut-in of over 800,000bpd since the NDA hostility began in February.

But in a statement by Mudock Agbinibo, the group’s spokesperson, it said it would cease fire to enable it discuss with the federal government’s team. It, however, demanded absolute sincerity on the part of government, warning that it would not allow the discussion to be turned into a political jamboree.

“We are warning this government of President Muhammadu Buhari not to turn the essence of genuine peace talk and dialogue to political jamboree that is prevailing now where all manner of social media agitators and criminals have been sponsored by the job seeking corrupt political class to save faces before the government of the day,’’ the NDA said.

As guarantees, the group said while it would not blow up more pipelines, it insisted that repairs to all bombed trunk lines must be put on hold until the dialogue is over, threatening to sink in the deep waters two large vessels belonging to the oil companies if its conditions were disregarded.

Credit: Thisday

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