Nigeria’s government will continue a crackdown on militants attacking oil pipelines in the Delta but also talk to leaders in the region to address their grievances, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday.
He also announced the reversal of a suspended amnesty programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta to stop the threats posed against oil production and “for a lasting solution to the violence”.
Militants in the southern region, where many complain of poverty and oil pollution, have staged a series of attacks in the past three months which have cut Nigeria’s oil output to a 20-year low.
The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems.
“The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing (the) Niger Delta problems,” Buhari said on Sunday in a speech marking his first year in office.
Buhari added that the government’s resolve in the face of the militants’ pipeline attacks remains undiminished.
“We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice,” he said.
The amnesty programme, launched in 2009 after years of violence by militant groups demanding a better share of the oil wealth, provided wages to about 30,000 ex-militants and training opportunities.
A new militant group called the Niger Delta Avengers, has told oil firms to leave the Delta before the end of May in what it frames as struggle for the Delta’s independence and has intensified attacks in recent weeks, compounding the problems of Africa’s largest economy.