There are at least seven steps the Nigerian government should take to end the brewing military conflict in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, a coalition of several civil society activists and organizations have said.
The region is facing increasing military operations as the government responds to a new wave of militancy led by a group named Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on oil and gas infrastructure.
Oil accounts for about 35 percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product and petroleum exports revenue represents over 90 percent of total exports revenue.
The oil and gas industry is also key to the functioning of other sectors, including power.
Attacks by the new militant group has shut down nearly 50 percent of output and production is down to 1.1 million barrels per day, experts say.
The militants say they want a sovereign Niger Delta state.
In a statement endorsed by 29 individuals and organization, on Tuesday in Port Harcourt, activists advised the government to demilitarize and pursue a non-violent approaches as well as other key steps to resolve the conflict. They suggest seven steps.
- Convene a meeting involving stakeholders drawn from both the civil society, community leadership and the state actors including representations of women and gender experts in line with the UNSCR 1325 to discuss the way forward as a matter of urgency.
- Adopt a sustainable long-term approach of peace-building and conflict transformation in the Niger Delta that does not merely focus on reducing the symptoms of social restiveness.
- Review the strategy of invasion by the military and paramilitary agencies currently going on in most Niger Delta communities in order not to further escalate the conflict.
- There is an urgent need for multi-governmental security collaboration among the Federal, States and local governments, as well as the communities in the Niger Delta region for the adoption and implementation of a more efficient and effective security blueprint in the region.
- Tone down the narrative of “show of force” and explore alternative ways of dealing with the conflict.
- Ensure legal and financial support for the take-off of the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, desired by the vast majority of persons in the locale.
- Holistic implementation of the Ledum Mittee Technical Report as well as review the decision to expunge the Host Community fund clause in the PIB pending in the National Assembly.
On the part of the militants, the activists advised that “Sheath (their) swords and embrace peaceful resolution of conflict.”