The Nigerian Government on Monday appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers militant group to be patient and not resume attack on oil facilities as efforts to meet their demands were on going.
The statement was issued by the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Usani Usani, while speaking to State House Correspondents shortly after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Minister, the issues raised by the militants were germane to the development of the region, saying that Mr. President has consequently directed action towards resolving them.
“The government of which I am part, my role as minister in charge of the region, we have been appealing with them to just be patient with us because, most of the time, the issues that are brought up are those that tend to portray the quest for development of the region.
“And that is all we have been doing, to say, a patient with us. These issues raised genuinely to the benefits of people of the region are being attended to.
“For instance, the Okerekenko University. You are aware that the Vice President has directed that that University must take off. And he also directed that a minimum of N5billion be budgeted for the take off the University.
“So, it’s a matter of patience knowing that some of these things have a procedure. So, it will not be because it did not happen the way they wanted so it will not happen. Everything has a phase of planning and a phase of execution.”
Usani said that it is not true that government has failed to fulfill its promises to the area citing the case of University as an example.
Other demands which includes the communities becoming part of the surveillance of oil infrastructure in the region as well as the implementation of modular refineries, are also being attended to, he added.
“They are also on because the process of building a refinery or even getting the necessary procedures to establish such is not just a one day business.
“Advertisements have been made, people have indicated interest and of course, to get it sustainable, the government is having the state governments involved but privately driven so that all concerned will be on a common page to be able to be sure that whenever it takes off, there is no frustration or sabotage.”
“For us as a government, there hasn’t been any group from the region that intended to meet with any arm of government that has been rebuffed.
“So, if any people make such overtures, we happy to receive them. We have been receiving different groups. We are not limiting our dialogue or discussions to any particular group.”
The Minister however said that he did not discuss the Niger Delta Avengers issue with President Buhari during his Monday visit.
“Well, we haven’t discussed the Avengers per se. But it is of the essence as the President has always shown an indication that whatever we need to and can do to sustain peace in the region, we would continue to do it.
“And of course, the benefit of that, you are aware that the Vice President has been chairing the committee that handles the issues they are raising.
“And so, while that goes on operationally, headed by the Vice President’s position in the committee, the President just needs to be briefed on our efforts though we know that the Vice President is briefing him from time to time.
“But per se, the Avengers issues were not discussed. On a general note, it is understood that we have to be engaged to be able to sustain the peace that prevailed for a while.”