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Niger Delta Avengers Are Economic Warriors – Presidency Dismisses Dialogue

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The federal government of Nigeria has declared the new militant group operating in the oil-rich region of southern Nigeria, the Niger Delta Avengers as “economic warriors” who are only “avenging their pockets”, as such the government will not dialogue with the group.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made this disclosure on Friday, July 8, 2016 when he spoke at the Elizade University campus in Ilaramokin in Ondo State. He disclosed this tough stance a few days after the militant group mounted a string of attacks on major pipelines belonging to state-owned oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and global giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited.

In his speech at the university, Osinbajo declared that “the future is here earlier than we thought” and as a result, the “so-called Avengers are not freedom fighters, but fighting for their own economic benefits”.

“They are avenging their private pockets and that is why government is not talking with them,” the vice president said.

As is the normal talking point of the Buhari administration, Osinbajo blamed the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan for the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers saying that “the previous government neglected the region for several years, hence the current challenges in the region”.

He assured the audience that Buhari administration was doing its best to “put a machinery in motion to curtail the activities of Niger Delta Avengers”.

The Niger Delta Avengers has consistently rejected any offer of dialogue from the government, instead insisting that the government meets its demands outlined on its website.

What Do The Niger Delta Avengers Want?

The militant group say they are waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands.

The Avengers claims it has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day. An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the waves of attacks on pipelines and oil installations.

The militant group has released its rules of engagement and says that it doesn’t kill anybody or attack oil workers or soldiers. The Delta Avengers called on all other groups operating in the region to abide by these rules of engagement. “We need God now, more than ever,” the group said in a statement.

The Niger Delta Avengers has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]

President Muhammadu Buhari recently rejected the Avengers’ demands saying that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The president’s first reaction to the Avengers was to declare war against them. He later promised to “crush them” as he did Boko Haram. That position has shifted to begging them in the ‘name of Almighty God’ to stop the attacks.

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