OPEC exemption: Fragile peace In Niger Delta might hamper oil production – Stakeholders
Federal Government’s perceived lack of commitment to the peace process in Niger Delta might thwart its efforts to increase or sustain current oil production levels.
Though Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has granted Nigeria’s request to be exempted from oil production cut, stakeholders in Niger Delta have warned that the fragile peace in the region was not sustainable to guarantee increased oil production.
Secretary General of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDF), Ledum Mitee, told The Guardian that there was nothing on ground to indicate that the government wants to bring about sustainable peace in the region that will in turn guarantee sustained oil production.
Mitee said: “It seems to me that peace in Niger Delta from the Federal Government’s perception is that oil is flowing. Once they can do some appeasement and ensure that oil flows, then that is peace and I think that cannot be peace in this respect. If you are now saying exclude us from the production cut, which means you want to produce more.
“Then it does not take rocket science to come up with the idea that you need to now invest some resources to make sure that restiveness is curtailed in the area where oil is being produced on sustainable basis.”
He observed that over the years, every government in Nigeria often tries to do the same thing by making promises that are never fulfilled and afterwards, they resort to increasing initiative to think that the deployment of military will bring about peace in the region.
“Often times when government deploys the military, Nigerians are always oblivious of the huge resources expended to foist unsustainable peace in the region.
There is nothing to guarantee peace in Niger Delta region on a sustainable basis. This is a very fragile area, with proliferation of small arms and ammunition. The terrain itself is not such you can effectively have to resort to military operation, to say it will guarantee peace. Must you require soldiers to shoot to say there is peace? That will be peace of the grave yard,” he remarked.
Similarly, the President, Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Eric Omare, told The Guardian that there is no measure in place to sustain the present production level of oil in the region, because the Federal Government seems to have squandered the goodwill of the people of Niger Delta, who intervened the last time there was hostility in the region.
He regretted that all the promises made by the Federal Government to Niger Delta have not been implemented, saying: “As I speak, even the maritime university that the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo, said N2b has been released, that money has not been received by the university management.
“The headquarters of the multinationals that they said should be relocated to Niger Delta, nothing has been done. The critical infrastructure like the East-West Road and the Ogoni cleanup, nothing has been done.”
“So, the peace process in the Niger Delta is sitting on a keg of gun powder, it can explode anytime. I think so because when the ceasefire was declared, it was on the basis that government will address the concerns that were expressed by the militants, but none of those concerns have been addressed. So there is an extent to which the leaders of the region can prevail on the youths of the region to sustain the peace” he said.
Omare observed that in recent times, some militant groups have been threatening to resume hostility, which if nothing was done to avert, will result in destruction of oil installation.
“Promises were made and those promises have not been fulfilled, whereas government is making billions of Dollars from Niger Delta area. Nothing has been given in return. The whole peace process is very fragile. Anything can happen,” he added.
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