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.
"We 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 State".
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."