Between 2005 and 2009, the oil-rich region of the Niger Delta of Nigeria saw the peak of militant activity that saw the loss of thousands of lives, destruction of many of the country's oil and gas installations, and losses running into billions of dollars.
Attacks on oil pipelines reduce Nigeria's crude production
The latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reveals that Nigeria's crude oil production fell by 67,000 bpd in March
An amnesty program set in motion by the Yar'Adua administration saw normalcy and stability return to crude oil production, but once again, militancy has reared its ugly head with another siege by suspected ,militants who have promised to bring the nation to its knees.
The latest report from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) reveals that Nigeria's crude oil production fell by 67,000 bpd in March, from 1.744 million bpd to 1.677 million bpd, due to the attacks on Shell installations in the Niger Delta region.
One of the leaders of the earlier arms struggles in the region, Asari Dokubo, has stated although he has no links to the newly arisen Niger Delta Avengers group, the issues of marginalization that plagues the region are still paramount.
"The people of Niger Delta are saying, 'You cannot use our money for 95%. We the 5% that you are saying you will not develop us, we are saying that our own, we will keep. Go and get for your 95% and develop them,'" Dokubo said, speaking to a Channels TV correspondent.
Another prominent Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark, has a contrary opinion to Dokubo's. The respected leader expressed his concerns saying the militants cannot achieve their aims by destroying the country and the economy. He also added that the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers was doing more good than harm, adding that the destruction of oil pipelines was only polluting the region and making life worse for the citizens.
Another Niger Delta activist, Ayiri Emami, stated that the problem of the Niger Delta is being caused by people of the region, saying that a lot of people were damaging the community by championing personal motives while hiding under the guise of emancipation.
The Niger Delta Avengers on the other hand have stated on their website that they are educated, exposed, and better armed young men, who are more civillised. Their attacks have been very precise and meticulous, often with devastating results.
Stakeholders, activists, people of the Niger Delta region have called on the Federal Government to handle the issue with firmness and caution without ruling out the possibility of dialogue. Increasing security around the pipelines is also another measure the government has been advised to undertake to help prevent unrest in the region.
It is unclear what direction the government will take at this present moment but how the situation will unravel is anyone's guess.
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