In a meeting summoned on the instruction of President Muhammadu Buhari, the federal government and Niger Delta states have started developing a common and united strategy to deal with the recent resurgent militant attacks on the nation’s oil installations.
According to the Senior Special Assistant-Media & Publicity In the Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande,at a meeting held yesterday at the Presidential Villa, and presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, governors from Niger Delta states, three ministers and military service chiefs met behind closed doors to discuss the situation, and forge a common strategy to halt what is considered by both federal and state governments as acts of economic sabotage by the militants.
At the end of the meeting, which lasted over two hours, it was made known that the federal government is proceeding on a collaborative strategy with the governments, communities in the Niger Delta region and other relevant stakeholders towards tackling the situation holistically.
Disclosing this at the end of the meeting, Delta State Ifeanyi Okowa who briefed State House Correspondents said the meeting identified the need for synergy between the federal and the state governments as a very important step going forward. Elaborating on the collaboration, Governor Okowa said “one thing that we have identified is the synergy between the federal government and states is very important and this meeting has actually revealed a lot of issues and we believe that the collaboration between the Federal Government and States would help us to tackle the issues in the Niger Delta” Governor Okowa disclosed that a lot of decisions were taken at the meeting after they were briefed by Service Chiefs.
He said “we have taken a lot of decisions which we think will help us to mitigate what is going on currently in the states particularly in Delta and Bayelsa”, reiterating the belief that “we are going to find a solution very soon”.
Still on the outcome of the meeting, he added that it was decided that military presence in the region should be de-escalated, though it was agreed that the forces should be kept to provide security and presence while government begins immediate engagement process with the communities in the affected areas.
Asked by press about the fate of the amnesty programme, Governor Okowa noted that the Presidential Adviser on the Amnesty Programme briefed the meeting and stated that the programme was actually still on-going.
He added that“we have a Special Adviser in charge of Amnesty and he is doing a lot of work.” Those at the meeting were Governors from the Niger Delta states which include Governors of Edo, Ondo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Abia, and the Deputy Governor of Cross River. On the side of the federal government were the Minister of Defense, Rtd. Major General Mohammed Dan Ali, Niger Delta Affairs Minister, Pastor Usani Uguru Usani and Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Dr. Ibe Kachikwu.
Military service chiefs were also in attendance led by the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin and all the Service Chiefs who briefed the meeting on the security situation in the region.