Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has dropped the idea of military option as a way of restoring peace to the troubled Niger Delta region, which has been experiencing renewed militancy lately.
He has therefore endorsed Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s ongoing dialogue in the region, which has so far taken him to Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa and Imo states.
A top government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, on Sunday, confirmed this to some journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
The official said a series of meetings between Buhari and Osinbajo early this year resolved that the Federal Government should embrace the oil-producing communities by encouraging their leaders and traditional rulers, who met the President last year.
“The President also decided to play down the use of open military tactics and gave firm instructions on this ahead of his delegation instructions to the Vice-President to embark on the ongoing trips to Niger Delta states,” he said.
The official added that Buhari’s instruction to the Acting President, while embarking on the tour of the region, was to ensure that “all interests are brought to the table, regardless of parties or any other differing factors or cleavages.”
He disclosed that Buhari had also instructed that the Amnesty Programme should not only be sustained but more budgetary allocation should be made for the scheme.
He was said to have asked Osinbajo to make the decision known to the communities during his visits.
He added, “It was also at the meetings the President held with his deputy that President Buhari firmed up the resolve that the Maritime University project in Delta State would be fully supported by the Federal Government.
“Before then, there had been an open disagreement between two ministers from the Niger Delta region on the fate of the university.
“Besides, the President also asked the Vice-President to ensure that during the visits, the communities should be made to understand that the government is now interested in action and would do its own part.
“The Vice-President was also asked to secure from the communities a buy-in of peace and collaboration from state governments and the oil companies in particular.”
He added that Buhari and Osinbajo also agreed that any immediate and reasonable requests of the communities would be considered to build confidence that all parties could then build upon.
The official explained that some local oil companies were also involved to facilitate the process, which then began with the visit of the Vice-President to Gbaramatu Kingdom last month, just before the President embarked on his vacation to the United Kingdom.
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