Dialogue: Avengers prepares for war, says ready to “hit and knock enemy hard”
Recall that the militant group had declared a ceasefire last year after staging major attacks on oil facilities crippling the OPEC member’s oil output in a fight for more oil revenues to give dialogue with authorities a chance. For over six months now, the Buhari-led government has been holding talks with leaders of the Niger Delta to address grievances of poverty and oil pollution in the area.
However, both the government and especially the people of the Niger Delta region as well as former militants have accused either parties of not being very sincere or ready for the dialogue, a situation the militants claimed has made the dialogue exercise futile so far.
“It has been evidently clear that the Nigerian state is not ready for any form of dialogue and negotiation,” the Niger Delta Avengers said in a statement posted on their website.”
“All fighters and commands are hereby placed on high readiness in your webs of operations to hit and knock the enemy very hard,” the group said. It declared the start of an “Operations Walls of Jericho and Hurricane Joshua … to reclaim our motherland” but did not say whether this meant an end of the ceasefire or gave any details.
The Avengers, like other militant groups, has split into different factions, which struggles to control their fighters, unemployed young men who work for anybody who pays them. Recall also that another former militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which had agreed to lay down arms in 2009, had, last week, passed a vote of no confidence on Buhari’s administration saying it had lost fate in the government’s sincerity in bringing lasting solution to the ravaged region.
The frequency of attacks has diminished since President Muhammadu Buhari held talks with community leaders but there are sporadic attacks, most recently in late November. However, the recent threat, if carried out, could lead to further reduction in oil supply of the country and hence, further affect the country’s economy which, in turn further impoverishes the people who are already being hit by recession.
The attacks cut Nigeria’s oil production, which stood at 2.1 million barrels per day (bpd) at the start of 2016, by more than a third in the summer although the oil minister said in December pipeline repairs lifted output to nearly 1.8 million bpd.