The Delta State government has invited militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), to dialogue about its recent threat to resume bombing of oil installations in the Niger Delta region.
In a statement released by the NDA's spokesperson, Murdoch Agbinibo, on Wednesday, January 17, 2018, the aggrieved group has decided to launch a fresh round of attacks on the country's oil installations in the coming days.
In response to the threat, Delta State Deputy Governor, Kingsley Otuaro, has appealed to the group to sit with the government and discuss how to develop the region without resorting to violence.
Otuaro, who is also the chairman of the Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, asked the group to lodge its grievances with the government for meaningful engagement.
He said, "As agitators, we must be mindful not to cancel out the modest gains already made through the dialogue process with the Federal Government which is still on course.
"Days back, the House of Representatives passed the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Bill to law as the Senate did last year. The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was also just passed. These are few pointers among others of better things to come.
"The Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, which I chair, just concluded a 2-day Conference on securing oil installations in Delta State.
"Conference drew attendance from oil companies, government bodies and communities from both Itsekiri and Ijaw Kingdoms in the riverside areas of the state.
"To underscore the importance of the conference, the Country Chair/Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Company (SPDC), Mr. Osagie Okunbor, personally attended and delivered the keynote address.
"Among several issues, Conference resolved that oil bearing communities must be engaged to better protect oil installations. It was agreed that oil installations vandalism was criminal and shooting self and future generations in the foot, having regard to concomittant environmental despoliation and loss of revenue for development of the region.
"At a post-conference press briefing in Warri, the Advocacy Committee hinted of arrangements to reach higher platforms to engage authorities of key issues raised at the conference towards resolving same. We have made contacts and gotten responses; I can tell you that there is yet no reason to be pessimistic.
"Delta State Government efforts at peace for development of the oil bearing areas is without prejudice to other groups and bodies in commendable nonviolent agitation for the improvement of the Niger Delta region.
"Experience shows that we can achieve more through dialogue than by violence. It is not only the Federal Government that needs the oil revenue to develop the entire nation.
"We also need revenue that ensures the modest development we can bring about. While we deserve more, we cannot endanger the environment for survival of our generation, let alone future generations."
Why NDA wants to resume bombings
In the statement released by Agbinibo, the group wants the Federal Government to restructure the country so as to allow the Niger Delta to control its resources and directly use them to improve the region.
The group was critical of the government for withdrawing N1 billion from the Excess Crude Account to fund the war against terrorist group, Boko Haram in the northeast, at the detriment of the array of challenges facing the Niger Delta region.
The group also demanded the immediate release of all Niger Deltan activists and freedom fighters that are held captive by the Nigeria Armed Forces. This demand is triggered by the recent decision of the Nigerian Army to release 244 Boko Haram suspects to the Borno State government.
Agbinibo warned that, unlike previous threats that were not followed through because of interventions from the region's elders, the group will not be persuaded to go back on its word this time around until the Federal Government takes heed to its demands.
He said the planned attacks will target the deep sea operations of oil multinationals that include Bonga Platform, Agbami, EA Field, Britania-U Field and Akpo Field.