President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Nigerian military to halt operations in the Niger Delta for two weeks to enable government dialogue with the militants who have stepped up bombings of oil and gas installations in the region.
Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this in Abuja, on Monday, saying the federal government was determined to restoring peace in the Niger Delta region.
“The President is interested in dialogue and has mandated the military to halt actions for about two weeks to ensure a team that will be led by the NSA, dialogue with the militants to ensure peace in the region,” he said.
Many local and multinational oil companies in the Niger Delta have reviewed their operations in the area as a result of the persistent bombing of their facilities in Delta and Bayelsa states.
Kachikwu urged the militants to embrace the offer of dialogue as it will involve key leaders from the region who have had first-hand experience of the crisis so that peace may once again be restored.
According to Kachikwu, the dialogue will be headed by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and will consist of top officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, service chiefs and ministers from the Niger Delta.
He expressed optimism that the dialogue would yield positive results and get Nigeria back to the crude oil production target of 2.2 million barrels per day as contained in the 2016 budget.
Meanwhile, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday disclosed that the federal government has commenced talks with leaders and people of the Niger Delta to halt the spate of attacks on oil installations in the area.
He said this when he met with a delegation of the European Union, led by the EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Michel Arrion.
“We are talking, we are ensuring that we minimize losses and we are stepping up security. We are also engaging the international oil companies, IOCs, to see what options exist,” he said.