Delta State Deputy Governor and Chairman Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities Kingsley Otuaro has appealed to Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to sheathe their swords.
He said they should come to the dialogue table.
NDA hinted days ago of intention to attack oil assets in a resumed programme tagged: ‘Operation red economy’, aimed at bringing the country’s oil production and export capacity and hence its largely oil-based economy to ground zero.
But the committee, with Dr. Chris Ekiyor as secretary, has extended invitation to NDA, asking the militant body to formally lodge its grievances at the Governor’s Office Annex, Warri or at the Deputy Governor’s Office, Government House, Asaba.
Addressing reporters in Warri, Otuaro said: “As agitators, we must be mindful not to undermine the modest gains made through dialogue with the Federal Government, which is still on course.
“Days back, the House of Representatives passed the Nigerian Maritime
University, Okerenkoko, Bill to law as the Senate did last year. The Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) was also just passed. These are few pointers among others of better things to come.
“The Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, which I chair, has just concluded a two-day conference on securing oil installations in Delta State. The conference drew attendance from oil companies, government bodies and communities from Itsekiri and Ijaw kingdoms in the riverside areas.
“To underscore the importance of the conference, the Country Chair/Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Company (SPDC), Mr. Osagie
Okunbor, delivered a keynote address.
“Among several issues, the conference resolved that oil- bearing communities must be engaged to protect oil installations. It was agreed that oil installations vandalism was criminal and shooting self and future generations in the foot, having regard to concomitant environmental despoliation and loss of revenue for development of the region.”
He added: “At a post-conference press briefing in Warri, the committee hinted of arrangements to reach higher platforms to engage authorities of key issues raised at the conference towards resolving same. We have made contacts and got responses; I can tell you that there is yet no reason to be pessimistic.
“The Delta State government’s efforts at peace for the development of oil-bearing areas is without prejudice to other groups and bodies in
a commendable non-violent agitation for the improvement of Niger Delta.
“Experience shows we can achieve more through dialogue than by violence. It is not only the Federal Government that needs the oil revenue to develop the nation. We also need revenue that ensures the modest development we can bring about. While we deserve more, we cannot endanger the environment for the survival of our generation, let alone future generations.”