Oil Threat: Delta Govt Invites Avengers for Dialogue
By Francis Sadhere
Deputy Governor of Delta State and Chair, Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities, Barr. Kingsley Burutu Otuaro, has appealed to the Niger Delta Avengers to sheathe their swords and come to the dialogue table.
The NDA hinted days ago of intention to attack critical oil assets in resumed programme tagged “operation red economy” aimed at bringing Nigeria’s oil production and export capacity and hence its largely oil-based economy to ground zero.
But the Otuaro-led Advocacy Committee with Dr. Chris Ekiyor as Secretary, has extended invitation to the NDA, asking the militant body to formally lodge their grievances to Governor’s office Annexe, Warri or to the Deputy Governor’s Office, Government House, Asaba for subsequent engagement.
Addressing newsmen in Warri, following Avenger’s fresh threat, Otuaro said: “As agitators, we must be mindful not to cancel out the modest gains already made through the dialogue process 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”, Otuaro said.
“The Delta State Advocacy Committee Against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities which I chair, just concluded a 2-day Conference on securing oil installations in Delta State. Conference drew attendance from oil companies, government bodies and communities from both Itsekiri and Ijaw Kingdoms in the riverside areas of the state. To underscore the importance of the conference, the Country Chair/Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Company (SPDC), Mr. Osagie Okunbor, personally attended and delivered the keynote address”, Otuaro said.
“Among several issues, Conference resolved that oil bearing communities must be engaged to better protect oil installations. It was agreed that oil installations vandalism was criminal and shooting self and future generations in the foot, having regard to concomittant environmental despoliation and loss of revenue for development of the region”, Otuaro informed.
“At a post-conference press briefing in Warri, the Advocacy 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 gotten responses; I can tell you that there is yet no reason to be pessimistic”, Otuaro added.
“Delta State Government efforts at peace for development of the oil bearing areas is without prejudice to other groups and bodies in commendable nonviolent agitation for the improvement of the Niger Delta region”, Otuaro clarified, adding: “Experience shows that we can achieve more through dialogue than by violence. It is not only the Federal Government that needs the oil revenue to develop the entire nation. We also need revenue that ensures the modest development we can bring about. While we deserve more, we cannot endanger the environment for survival of our generation, let alone future generations”.