The National Security Adviser, Retired Gen. Babagana Mongunu, will head a federal government team which will dialogue with the warring Niger Delta militants. The minister of state for petroleum resources, Ibe Kachikwu, will also be a part of the team, as well as security and service chiefs and other stakeholders.
This was disclosed by Kachikwu on Monday: “We are making contacts with those involved that we can identify and through them to the ones we cannot identify so that there will be inclusiveness for dialogue. Our prayer is that this works so that we resort to dialogue instead of use of force to solve problems. ….it is always difficult when arms are used against fellow citizens whether by the militants or by the government,” he said.
Kachikwu said that the government has to win back the hearts of the militants as Nigeria is currently losing about 600,000 barrels of oil per day. “Unless that the government is pushed to take extreme measures, the desire of his excellency, Mr. President is to try engage and dialogue with issues,” he said.
Kachikwu said that intensity of the attacks was causing a lot of problems such as pollution and affects on consistent production.
“I am from the Niger Delta and my first appeal is to my brothers who engage in those protests to sheath the sword and the dagger and then get back to the table so that we can have conversation as Nigerians. …the answer to the issues is not taking up of arms. The Federal Government is committed to continue this dialogue.”
He stressed the fact that the President was interested in restoring peace to the Niger Delta, adding that Buhari has urged the use of every available opportunity to dialogue with the militants to end the matter.
In terms of effects of the crisis on oil production, the minister said that “in terms of production, I think we are producing 1.5 and 1.6million barrel per day down from 2.2million of this year’s the basis of this year’s budget.”
According to him, between now and August, if peace reigns, the sector would be able to raise the volume of production substantially.
Kachikwu promised that the ministry and its related agencies would work hard to cover the gaps in a manner that the losses would not affect this year’s budget significantly.