FG still dialoguing with Niger Delta —Kachikwu

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, has said that it is not true that the Federal Government is working against the people of the Niger Delta region, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

He also said that the dialogue between the Federal Government and the people of the region to find lasting solutions to the lingering violence and pipeline vandalism in the region was on-going.

The minister made the clarification on Saturday in an interview at the end of the 2016 Convocation  Ceremony of the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta.

He said the president was very supportive of the project of ensuring that government reached an agreement with the people through dialogue by ensuring that the old model which failed was restructured.

“The dialogue with the militants has not collapsed, I have laid that process and the president is very supporting of that process.

“But what the president does not want to do is to put in place same model that failed after four months and militants are back to the creeks.

“We are looking at a long term model and I have presented to Mr President a road-map and it encompasses short, long term solutions, engagement and inclusiveness of the communities.

“We absolutely believe that the Niger Delta is key to the country, they have contributed so much in very many ways but the society has failed them.”

“And I use the word, society, not necessarily government because if you look at what has been provided over the years, it’s a lot and some of them have not got it right for certain reasons like corruption at different levels.

“We need to begin to look on how these benefits will get to them;  so, let everybody be calm, destruction doesn’t lead you anywhere.

“I am from here and every money that the state loses because of militancy is lack of development in the state.

“I went to the creeks and I talked with some of the militants and we dialogued and some of the results you are seeing today are the results of those dialogues.

“But I do agree that we must have a robust, permanent, aggressive, inclusive dialogue on the table,” he said.

Kachikwu said  PTI and its management team were the right answer to bridging the gap in producing the local manpower in the oil and gas industry.

He said that government would do all it could to expand the role of PTI in providing needed facilities in the sector as a means of cutting cost in the sector.

He said that Nigeria imported fuel from any country, including Ghana, to meet its daily needs, adding that it was cheaper to import from closer countries.

“But the reality is that the quantity we import from Ghana is small, the closer they are around us the cheaper, so we mop everything around us before we look outside.

“But we are the one powering Ghana, all the gas we produce is used in Ghana but we are reengineering our facilities and soon we shall take over the production of petroleum products.

He said that government was presently looking on how to cut cost, find other financing models and improve infrastructure in the oil and refining sector to produce for domestic consumption.

He said the hard times in the country were temporary and appealed for the understanding of Nigerians.

He, however, said that solutions to the present challenges could take some time.