While the new militant group Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) maintains its wave of attacks on oil and gas infrastructures in the Niger-Delta, the Nigerian government has announce that it will talk to leaders in region to address their grievances, while cracking down on militants, President Muhammadu Buhari said, Reuters reported.
Local officials and Western allies such as UK had told Buhari that moving in troops to the Delta was not enough to stop attacks, which have cut Nigeria’s oil output to a 20-year low. The army has moved reinforcements to the swamps, with soldiers raiding for the second time a community that is home to a former militant leader linked to attacks, Yahoo News wrote.
“The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems,” Buhari said in a speech marking his first year in office.
In addition, Buhari also said the government was committed to a clean up of polluted areas, which is a major source of dissent in the Delta along with widespread poverty. But security operations would still go on, he said.
Moving in the same direction, Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said that the amnesty program for former militants, signed in 2009 to end a previous insurgency, needed to improve. The scheme had funded cash benefits and job training to militants who have laid down their arms but has been cut by the government by two-thirds. Buhari has also upset former militants by ending contracts to protect pipelines, part of a drive to tackle corruption.
Meanwhile it was also reported that the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) issued a statement dissociating itself from the Niger Delta Avengers, accusing the group of sinister agenda to destabilize President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, according to Sahara Reporters.