Worried by the continuous destruction of oil pipelines in the oil rich Niger Delta and determined to restore peace for the economic survival of his country, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday visit the region, in what many see as an attempt to use a carrot and stick approach to end the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers.
Buhari, who vowed to crush the militants will visit Ogoni Land, a pollution devastated community in the Niger Delta area, to launch a much-delayed programme to clean up areas heavily polluted by oil spills, and “to hold talks with leaders” in the area, a government official who craved anonymity told the Reuters News Agency.
President Buhari is considering another option from his initial resolve to give the militants “the Boko Haram treatment” and has called for a dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers which staged several attacks and issued warning to oil firms in the southern region in recent weeks.
Although the president has not ceded the option of using military force on the militants, but local officials and Western allies have advised Buhari against using force to end their activities, instead work towards addressing their grievances.
The Avengers in recent weeks have sent several warnings on local and international oil companies to stop oil exploration in the region saying “it’s going to be bloody this time around”.
Security experts believe the reemergence of militancy in the area is connected to Buhari’s decision to cut “cash benefit, job training and end contracts” to protect pipelines offered to the militants by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. But the country’s oil minister Mr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachukwu on Thursday, says the amnesty programme introduced by former President, Umaru Yar’adua needed to be improved.
The residents in the southern swamp areas, where oil giants such as Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron operate, have for years complained about the oil industry’s pollution and economic marginalization by the government.
Nigeria, a country that is still recovering from the Boko Haram onslaughts has witnessed series of attacks from herdsmen and Niger Delta Avengers. The attacks have further crippled the economy of the country amid the slump in oil prices in the international market.
Attacks on oil installations have cut Nigeria’s oil output by 800,000 barrels, the lowest since 1996.