- Say FG stalling on demands
By Odunewu Segun
Hopes of Nigeria’s oil output exceeding the 2 million barrels per day in August may be dashed following growing restiveness in the Niger Delta, National Daily has gathered.
According to findings, ex-militants and local chieftains said government has not followed up on issues raised at the various town hall discussions. They said government is stalling on key demands and has not even appointed a full-time negotiating team.
“This peace is a graveyard peace,” said Godspower Genekama, a chief in the Kingdom of Gbaramatu. “Nobody can assure anybody that nothing will happen in the Delta.”
A spokesman for acting President Yemi Osinbajo rejected suggestions the government was not doing enough.
“The government has not reneged and will never renege on any agreement,” he said, pointing to more spending on an amnesty program for ex-militants and progress on a clean-up project.
He added it was just a matter of time for other agreements to come to fruition, such as the planned opening of a flagship university in October and of small-scale refineries with community ownership in the fourth quarter.
An inter-ministerial group met regularly with Osinbajo to discuss the Niger Delta and a “technical committee” liaised between the government and affected communities, he also said.
“Call for resuming attacks when the government is diligent in actualizing the terms of the agreements and requests made will not help matters,” said the acting president’s spokesman.
Some locals, however, are in no mood to wait. In a sign of their mounting frustration, groups such as the New Delta Avengers and the Niger Delta Marine Force have formed in recent months.
The peace talks are “lies and deceit,” said Annkio Briggs, a leading activist in the southeastern oil city of Port Harcourt. “This latest Osinbajo move … is all about revenue.
Others are also bitter that the government only appears to respond to violent action, while peaceful activism and protests have historically achieved little.
“We don’t have a very big agenda,” said Gbenekama, “The general agenda of the Niger Delta people is the political and fiscal restructuring of this nation.”
The government “is treading on a path that is disastrous… setting a precedent that they will only negotiate with the Delta when they start blowing stuff up,” said Richard Akinaka, who represented the youth in Rivers state for a meeting with Osinbajo.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has held talks with community leaders and ex-militants in the restive oil-producing region since February with a view to finding a lasting solution to restiveness in the region.