PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has reacted to the threat by a militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, to resume attacks on oil installations in the South-South, saying the government is already addressing their demands.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina, in a statement on Sunday, noted that the Avengers’ threat was curious because it came barely 48 hours after Buhari met with the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and other leaders of the Niger Delta region.
The statement added that issues concerning restructuring and inauguration of a board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) had already being addressed.
The Avengers had earlier on Saturday threatened to embark on economic sabotage through bombing of critical oil and gas installations unless certain demands, including the development of the Niger Delta and restructuring of the country, were met.
“This operation shall be coded ‘Operation Humble’ aimed at bringing down targeted oil installations in the Niger Delta capable of humbling the economy into permanent recession. This mission is also targeted at political actors, who are collaborating with the Nigerian government to undermine the interest of the Niger Delta people.
“There is no doubt that the Nigerian Government has continued to pay deaf ears to our demands and the rising challenges in the country because the pipelines that crisscross our lands are left untouched, allowing dollars to flow into the federal treasury on a daily basis for mismanagement.
“We shall spare no single oil installation within our range of strategic targets marked for destruction in the coming days and we bet the Nigerian government will be humbled to return to the drawing board and chart an all-inclusive course by the time we are done with our action plan,” the Avengers warned in the statement.
Reacting to the threat by the Niger Delta militant group, Adesina recalled Buhari’s remarks at the meeting with the leadership of the INC.
“I am equally concerned about the rate of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and as you are aware the HydroCarbon Pollution Remediation Project has started work with remediation efforts in Ogoni land and I have directed the Minister of Environment to ensure that the projects are implemented with a high percentage of local content and inclusion of the surrounding communities,” Buhari said at the meeting with the INC, according to the statement issued by Adesina.
The president, at the meeting, added that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency was working hard to ensure that oil spills are reduced and new ones prevented, noting that demands for restructuring is being handled by the National Assembly.
“In addressing your call for immediate restructuring, the National Assembly whose responsibility it is to ensure that our constitution responds to the call for a restructured Nigeria, has already concluded regional consultations and as soon as they finalise the process, necessary action would not be delayed on my part.”
Buhari also told the INC leaders that the call for creation of two additional states and more local government areas for the Ijaw people was a legislative matter which would be handled by the National Assembly.
“I completely agree with your call to allocate operational licenses for marginal fields to Ijaw people. However, like you know, the process of granting licenses is guided by laid down rules and regulations, most of which even favour local content and local contractors. I see no reason why they should not be granted such licenses if they qualify.
“On the issue of fair and balanced appointments to reflect federal character principles, I re-affirm that this has always been my focus and would continue to be because I have always seen Nigeria as a country where everyone should be given equal opportunities,” he observed.
In the same vein, the president implored the INC to play a more active role in making sure that the mismanagement that occurred in the region in the pastwas s not repeated.
“I am particularly happy to note your call for promoting ownership of modular refineries by the Ijaw people and I will urge you to interphase with your sons who are involved in the processes of establishing these refineries, especially the Honourable Minister of State Petroleum Resources to actualise this quest.
“Like you well know, completion of the East-West Road is top on my infrastructure agenda and I will look to its speedy conclusion. Again, the occasional disturbance by youths in some communities along the route to construction work would require your close attention and guidance.”