Traditional rulers and stakeholders from the Niger Delta region yesterday listed six things the federal government should do in order to stop further destruction of the country’s oil assets by militants and restore peace in the region.
King Jaja of Opobo, Douglas Jaja, was among prominent rulers in the region who met with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in Abuja yesterday to present their demands.
Niger Delta Coastal States’ monarchs and stakeholders in the region called on the federal government to urgently constitute a dialogue team to negotiate on its behalf with stakeholders in the region.
In their submission presented by Chief Wellington Okirika, the Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, the monarchs asked for the release of 10 school children they said were arrested by the Nigerian Army on May 28, 2016 in Oporoza and others in detention.
They also asked the government to: “Return the Golden Sword, being the symbol of authority in the Gbaramatu traditional institution, return the three traditional council speed boats in custody of the Nigerian Army, and cease military hostilities in the Niger Delta region.
“Equally important, the federal government should make a categorical statement about the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State for academic activities in the 2016/2017 session,” they added.
Kachikwu, in his response, said what was more important was that the ceasefire must hold.
“I was told, and I have not verified it, that in fact, on Monday, a day after the announcement, we had an attack on Nembe Creek, and we lost another 150,000 barrels and some gas from the Agip facility.
So there are still some splinter elements who despite the ceasefire, continue to attack the efficacy of that ceasefire,” he said.
Kachikwu disclosed that over $40 billion had been put into the Niger Delta region but there was no infrastructure to relay such investment.
The minister lamented that the government could no longer fund the 2016 budget due to the crisis in the region which had led to a significant drop of Nigeria’s crude oil output to about 1.3million barrels per day, in addition to the falling crude oil price.