Violence is down in the Niger Delta
and the Rivers State government says its security operations have made it
impossible for militants to attack oil facilities at will and kidnap foreign
oil workers. Governor Rotimi Amaechi says his administration will beef up
security in more areas and provide infrastructures (roads, electricity and
other facilities necessary for development), especially along the creeks, which
are strongholds of militant groups. As the state government marks one year
in office, there is growing optimism that decades of violence in the Niger
Delta area may be nearing an end. Ogbonna Nwuke is the Rivers State
commissioner for information. He says there has been a tremendous improvement
in overall safety.
"The security situation in Rivers State
is vastly improved and frankly life is more normal than it used to be. I can
also say that although there have been areas of trouble, particularly in the
creeks, most people here agree that we have made more progress in curtailing
the activities of militants and cultists." He says Governor Amaechi will not
negotiate with militants unless they renounce violence and stop kidnapping
foreign nationals and blowing up oil pipelines.
should be talking about working within the framework of the law. I think it is
primary that we realize that persuasion has not worked. The issue is that those
who insist on bearing arms, those who chose to hide under the guise of fighting
for the Niger Delta region, clearly, they are working on living above the law.
So I think the time has come for decent society, normal society, to say no to
the activities of these characters and that is what we are doing here in River
Nwuke says the government is also
pursuing a political settlement as a permanent solution to the problem. "We
have set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is already hearing from
those who may have grievances about what may have transpired here in the last
eight years. Now we believe after the hearing will come the process of
reconciliation. We believe we have set up a mechanism though which we can find
answers to accomplish the task. As a forward-looking society, we believe we
have to forgive."