Nigeria's VP calls for peace in restive oil region

2017-01-16 22:31
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Warri-Nigeria's vice-president on Monday called for an end to repeated attacks on oil and gas facilities in the restive south, warning there would be no progress in the region without peace.

Yemi Osinbajo toured several communities and met local leaders in Delta state, as part of what his office said was the government's "readiness and determination" to address the crisis.

Oil and gas installations have been hit in the region for the last 12 months, cutting production and worsening dwindling revenue from oil sales caused by the fall in global prices.

Militants responsible for the attacks say they want a fairer share of revenues for local people, most of whom still live in dire poverty and with the consequences of decades of pollution from spills.

Osinbajo acknowledged in a speech in the Gbaramatu kingdom - the Delta home to former and, reportedly, current oil rebels - that years of exploration and extraction had not benefited local communities.

"This kingdom, a place like this, should be better. It should be like anywhere in Dubai, anywhere in very developed countries in the world," he said.

But he told an umbrella body for youths in the southern Niger delta region, the Ijaw Youth Council, it had a leadership role to play.

"That leadership role comes with tremendous responsibility. The first responsibility is ensuring peace. You can't thrive without peace."

Before Osinbajo's visit, the Ijaw Youth Council called for the release of militants. It has previously dismissed government claims it is in talks to end the unrest.

Oil revenue is central to Nigeria's economy, accounting for some 70% of government earnings and 90% of foreign exchange.

Over-reliance on crude export sales has been seen as a key factor in Nigeria's economic troubles alongside rampant corruption and mismanagement.

Osinbajo warned that oil "will not be as precious as it is today" and Asian countries currently buying Nigerian crude were fast developing alternative sources of energy.

"We have a window of opportunity, maybe 20 to 30 years. If we don't take that window of opportunity... we will be the worse for it," he added.

Read more on:    nigeria  |  west africa

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