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It is no longer news that the Nigerian Government have been searching for peace in the South South region of Nigeria. Despite peace talks which started June in this present administration  yet, The Niger Delta fighters have not stopped their agitation. The president will today be meeting with the Avengers and other stake holders in that region.
Here is what Daily Trust gathered.
President Muhammadu Buhari will today
meet Niger Delta stakeholders with a view to ending the militancy in the
region which has led to a sharp decline in Nigeria’s oil revenue.

Those expected at the meeting include all the governors, ministers
and other political appointees from the Niger Delta region as well as
traditional rulers and representatives of militant groups.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity,
Mallam Garba Shehu, confirmed to our correspondent last night that the
meeting would hold today at 12.00 noon. He, however, declined comment on
issues President Buhari is likely to present before the region’s
stakeholders.

However, Daily Trust learnt that the president will present a package
for peace in the region which includes additional N35billon for the
ongoing Amnesty Programme. A virement request to that effect is now
awaiting the approval of the National Assembly.

Daily Trust reports that there have been disagreements over the
choice of representatives and a $10 billion infrastructural development
fund for the region launched the government.

Meeting will open doors

An Ijaw elder, Chief Anabs Sara Igbe, told Daily Trust on phone last
night that the scheduled meeting will open doors for the much expected
dialogue with leaders of the region.

Chief Sara Igbe, who is a delegate expected to take part in the
meeting, said it would be the first official engagement between the
people of Niger Delta and the president. He added that it would create
an opportunity for the region to make submissions on issues that border
on the economic and human capital development, as well as security and
restoration of peace in the region.

He said the discussion with the president would focus on
socio-economic development of the region as well as building a strong
synergy with multinational oil companies operating in the area.

“We will also look into fiscal federalism and security of Niger
Delta. We will look at a way of building a synergy between the oil
companies and the people of the region so as to bring a lasting peace.
We will also harp on the on-going war against corruption. We are not
against the fight against corruption but we want it to done within the
ambit of the law,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that other Niger Delta leaders expected at the
meeting include Chief Edwin Clark, Chief Alfred Diete Spiff, Chief
Judith Asune and Eradiri Udengs, the IYC President.

The Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, had
 last week said the president called for the meeting with some
stakeholders from the region as part of efforts to end insurgency in the
restive region.

Kachikwu, while launching a roadmap for the oil sector, had announced
a $10bn infrastructure development fund being planned for the oil-rich
region.

But leaders and stakeholders of the Niger Delta have rejected the
planned fund, arguing that they were not consulted before the decision
was taken.

Kachikwu yesterday also acknowledged there were already cracks, “We
are having our first meeting, which is already becoming very
contentious.

“We were encouraged to continue to engage, despite these
misunderstandings. I am personally committed to ensuring a very robust
engagement with every stakeholder in the region to ensure the sense of
inclusion.” he said in a speech he delivered at the 2016 Nigerian Gas
Association (NGA) annual conference and exhibition in Abuja on Monday.

Leaders and representative of groups from the region said they will keep sealed lips until after the meeting today.

“We have been told not to say anything until we have met with the
president,” Chief Godspower Gbenakama, spokesman for Gbaramatu Kingdom,
told Daily Trust adding that it was not unusual for disagreements
because the “Niger Delta is a big place, there is always issues about
who is going to represent where.”

Traditional rulers and stakeholders from the region had at a maiden
meeting in Abuja with the minister in August listed the cessation of
hostilities the military around the region, reopening of the Maritime
University and release of individuals arrested on trumped up charges,
among others as conditions for the return to lasting peace in the
region.

They also called on the Federal Government to urgently constitute a
dialogue to negotiate on its behalf with stakeholders in the Niger Delta
region.

Revenue losses

The Niger Delta has been rocked intermittent attacks militant
groups since February, leading to cut in Nigeria’s oil output far below
what is proposed in the 2016 budget. This is even as oil price has
remained low at the international market.

In the first eight months, supply disruptions significantly affected
the country’s oil exports as four of the nation’s five largest crude
export streams were totally suspended.

Nigeria lost over $7bn (around N2 trillion) to militancy and pipeline
vandalism since the beginning of the year, according to Group Managing
Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti
Baru at the weekend.

He added that “60 per cent of oil production lost is NNPC-FGN equity.
At an estimated price of $45 per barrel, the total 2016 revenue loss to
the Federation Account translates to about $7 billion.”

President Buhari had during the launch of the Nigeria Oil and Gas
Industry Roadmap tagged “The 7 Big Wins” at the Presidential Villa, said
“The golden era of high oil prices may not be here now, but oil and gas
resources still remain the most immediate and practical keys out of our
present economic crisis.

“Oil and gas still remain a critical enabler for the successful
implementation of our budget as well as the source of funds for laying a
strong foundation for a new and more diversified economy.”

End military campaign – NDA

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) threatened yesterday to
step up attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta if the president
pursues a military campaign.

The threat cast a shadow over peace talks between the government and groups due to start on today.

The Nigerian military had declared war against militants threatening
the peace of region with the launch of operation Crocodile Smile which
is aimed at getting rid of all forms of criminal activities in the
region.

But in a written response to Reuters questions, Mudoch Agbinibo,
spokesman for the NDA, said the group was “determined to gradually grind
the flow of our oil” if Buhari’s administration opted to continue its
military campaign in the region.

Agbinibo said President Muhammadu Buhari must “come down from…his iron-horse of ethnic and religious bigotry”.

Any plan of the Nigerian government thinking of exploiting the
resources of the Niger Delta to fund…government without our genuine
involvement will be a very tall dream,” said the spokesman.

The NDA spokesman said the group was a “liberation movement, poised
towards the control of our resources” that would “pay appropriate tax to
the central government”.
Source: Daily Trust

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