“Nobody Can Assure Anybody That Nothing Will Happen In Niger Delta” - Community Leader
The peace reigning in the Niger Delta area could be more fragile than imagined.
Niger Delta communities are saying that Nigerian government's efforts to secure peace in the oil region are empty promises, threatening a return to violence.
A return of attacks on the oil facilities in the area could cut short the dream of full oil production recovery and deal a bad blow to already declining government revenue.
Not good news at all.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had held talks since February with community leaders in town hall meetings in the restive oil-producing states, a move believed to have inspired the current boom in oil production set to exceed more than 2 million barrels per day.
But ex-militants and local chieftains say that since those "town hall" discussions, little has been done.
They claim that the government has not followed up on issues raised, is stalling on key demands and has not even appointed a full-time negotiating team.
“If the Niger Delta people continue to feel Abuja is ignoring their needs, we will resort to the only tactic that has ever yielded results: attacks on oil facilities,” said one of the leaders who preferred anonymity while speaking to Reuters.
"The people of the Niger Delta can hold this government or any government to ransom because we are the people feeding the nation," said Godspower Gbenekama, a chief in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
"This peace is a graveyard peace," he said. "Nobody can assure anybody that nothing will happen in the Delta."
But a spokesman for the acting president rejected suggestions the government was not doing enough.
"The government has not reneged and will never renege on any agreement," he said, pointing to more spending on an amnesty programme for ex-militants and progress on a clean-up project.
He added it was just a matter of time for other agreements to come to fruition, such as the planned opening of a flagship maritime university in October and of modular refineries with community ownership in the fourth quarter.