ABUJA Oct 27 (Reuters) – Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will meet leaders of the restive Niger Delta in Abuja next week to help end an insurgency in the oil-producing region, the oil minister said on Thursday.
“Our target is to ensure zero militancy in the area,” Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu told a forum in Abuja aimed at outlining strategy for the petroleum industry. “This planned meeting shows the level of interest the president has to ensure peace in the area.”
In a speech at the same event, Buhari said the government was committed to engaging with all stakeholders in the southern region to find a lasting peaceful solution. He gave no details.
Militants have been fighting for a greater share of the OPEC member’s wealth to go to the Niger Delta, where many complain of poverty.
Government sources had told Reuters on Monday that the government would hold a meeting with community leaders and militant representatives in Abuja next week.
Nigeria has been holding talks for months to end the attacks on energy facilities, which have cut crude production in the Delta, but no lasting ceasefire has been agreed.
Kachikwu told the event that output had recovered to 1.8 million barrels a day, adding that the government hoped to get back to 2.2 million bpd next year – the level seen at the start of 2016.
“We have a capacity to produce 3 million (bpd), he said. (Reporting by Felix Onuah and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
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