Nigeria should choose dialogue over force to resolve the crisis in the oil rich Niger Delta region where attacks on installations in six months have crumbled the country’s oil output by at least 700 thousand barrels daily and denied the federation of N250 billion in July alone, two governors said on Saturday.
Delta and Sokoto state governors; Dr Ifeanyi Okowa and Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, argued that dialogue was the best chance Nigeria has to stop the bleeding of an economy already teetering towards an inevitable recession due to a combination of low prices of crude in the international market and the destruction of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
Both governors – from the opposition People’s Democratic Party, and the ruling All Progressives Congress, spoke on Saturday in Asaba on the last day of the Delta State Economic and Investment Summit.
The event was part of activities commemorating the Silver Jubilee of the creation of Delta State.
“Delta State is known for peace, and a lot can be achieved when dialogue is applied. I want to call on the youths of the Niger Delta Region to embrace dialogue and peace in their agitation; let us have dialogue on the various issues affecting the region,”Governor Tambuwal said.
“We need peace and tranquillity in the country so that we can harness all our resources for development. Therefore, I urge the youths of the Niger Delta to engage the Federal Government through dialogue so that solutions can be found.”
Dr Okowa said his government was seeking “peaceful environment from our people so that a lot of development can take place”.
“We need to cooperate with ourselves so that we can right the wrongs of the past”
He said the investment community was ready to partner with Delta to develop the state, “but, we need to ensure that we sustain the peace and security in our communities so that investors can come in; it is not wrong to agitate but we can do that through dialogue, we will get better result when we agitate through dialogue.”
Speaking in Nairobi, Kenya, President Muhammadu Buhari called on the Niger Delta militants to embrace peace or be dealt with like Boko Haram terrorists.
The President made the comments during a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister to reassure foreign investors that Nigeria was safe for business even with the Boko Haram threats and the destruction of oil and gas pipelines by the Niger Delta Avengers.
The Avengers announced recently that they were ready for talks, but Mr. Buhari’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, told Channels Television on Friday that there were at least 30 groups claiming to be the genuine Niger Delta Avengers, a situation that left Mr. Buhari confused.
The militants say they are agitating for resource control and for massive poverty and pollution in the land.