Monday, October 10, 2016 7:46 am
Former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, has called on the Federal Government to negotiate with Niger Delta militants that have disrupted oil supplies, thereby affecting output.
He said in an interview with Vanguard that for long term solution to the current economic problem, the government “should build up our capacity and Nigeria will be better off.” In the short term, he said he was surprised at the government’s use of force.
The price of crude oil is, according to him, less than one-third of what it used to be at its peak, and production level was 2.2 million barrels per day and right now “we are producing about 900,000 barrels which is much less than half of the production and selling at less than one-third of the price of the former selling price. ”
In his words: “So you can see what the impact could be on an economy like ours that is mono culture and dependent on one product. The Niger Delta Avengers and collaborators are responsible for the drop in production; they are not responsible for the price. Yar‘adua, when he had a similar problem was able to start the amnesty programme and at that time, our production had also dropped to 800,000, and we had been overtaken by Angola in Africa. But once Yar‘adua settled with the restive youths through the Amnesty Programme, production went back to 2.2 million barrels.
“Now with all that information at the disposal of the present government they did not see that the best course of action would be to negotiate with these boys and reach some understanding; instead they want to use the force of arms and even with all that, they are still blowing up facilities. I read a few days ago that they said that they killed 23 militants, and it is not something to brag about. You kill 23 of the boys, and you are bragging about it; it is not a very good thing to hear.
“There is no short cut of getting out of recession which is mostly caused by the lack of foreign exchange to run factories, to even import goods and services…there is no shortcut than to increase production. Instead of facing it squarely we are still battling with the force of arms to try and subdue. I am not a soldier, maybe soldiers always think of force, force as a means of solving problems, but I don’t see a quick end to the recession without solving the problem of low oil production.