The Federal Government will enter into a dialogue with the Niger Delta militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, the minister of state for petroleum resources, Emmanuel Kachikwu said on Monday.
“We are making contacts with everybody who is involved, the ones that we can identify, through them, the ones that we can’t identify so that there is a lot more inclusiveness in this dialogue,” he said.
The Avengers have emerged as most prominent militant in the Niger Delta region in 2016 with series of attacks launched on oil installations belonging to Shell, Chevron, ENI and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The strikes have cut Nigeria’s output to a 20-year low, crashing daily crude production to 1.4 million barrels per day from 2.2 million bpd.
But Kachikwu hoped that the dialogue would yield good results for all.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed a team led by the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno “to begin the process of a very intensive dialogue with those caught in the middle of this.”
“Our prayer is that this works so that we resort to dialogue rather than use of force,” he said.
Kachikwu said the government was determined to restore “genuine peace in the region where oil production has been significantly hurt by the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers”.
He urged the militants to accept the government truce offer.
“The avenue is open for them, provided the militants are willing to embrace dialogue and allow truce to reign,” he said.
The Niger Delta Avengers is pushing for self-determination for the Niger delta region but maintain their activities are only targeting oil installations rather than the personnel or the military.