No Need for Niger-Delta Avengers’ Threat after Buhari has Assured on Restructuring — Presidency

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Muhammadu Buhari, Niger-Delta Avengers, Threat, Restructuring
President Muhammadu Buhari has always given the impression that his government would not heed any call for restructuring Nigeria, but his tune has just began to change.

No Need for Niger-Delta Avengers’ Threat after Buhari has Assured on Restructuring — Presidency

The presidency in Nigeria, on Sunday, replied the Niger Delta militants who threatened to resume bombing of oil infrastructure in their region, questioning the rationale behind their threat after President Buhari’s recent assurances to leaders of the region on the development of the region as well as restructuring Nigeria.

Buhari’s media aide, Femi Adesina said in a statement that “The media was Sunday awash with threats and demands by a group, Niger Delta Avengers, to embark on economic sabotage through bombing of critical oil and gas installations unless certain demands, including development of the Niger Delta, and restructuring of the Federation, were met.”

Niger Delta leaders had emerged from a meeting in Port Harcourt at the weekend to demand urgency in restructuring the federation to give the country a new lease of life. They also called on the federal government to quickly convoke a national dialogue to chart a way forward for Nigeria.

They gave a three-month period for the federal government to act failing which they will seek self-determination.

Also, a group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), at the weekend threatened to embark on economic sabotage through bombing of critical oil and gas installations as well as political actors in the region siding with the federal government against the collective interest of the region.

The NDA said it has lost confidence in the leadership structures of the regions like Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), elders of the region and other so-called ex-agitators who were only interested in pursuing selfish interests that do not advance the collective interest of the Niger Delta.

Adesina expressed concern that the threat was coming less than 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari met with the leadership of the Niger Delta and Ijaw National Congress (INC) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the resident had already assured them on the germane issues that included the call for restructuring of the Federation and the inauguration of a Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).

Buhari’s Assurances

Adesina added that President Buhari’s speech in his meeting with Ijaw National Congress leaders on Friday, June 25, 2021, included the following:

“I warmly welcome all the Elders of the Niger Delta and particularly the National Executive of the Ijaw National Congress, under the leadership of Professor Benjamin Okaba. I thank you for paying this courtesy visit not too long after your election in April, and swearing-in last May…

“As the symbol of the collective voice of the Ijaw people, which is one of Nigeria’s main ethnic groups, the existence of a focused and people-oriented leadership would go a long way in articulating the demands of the Ijaw people and making sure these demands are made part of the national discourse.

“I particularly note your 10- point demand to the federal government in your inaugural speech and assure you that this administration is frontally addressing them.

“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.

“Similarly, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, under the same ministry of Environment is working to make sure that oil spills are reduced and new ones prevented. As you are also aware, all the responsible agencies of government have been directed to ensure that they enforce compliance by the International Oil Companies to international best practices.

“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.

“In the same vein, your call for creation of two additional states and more local government areas for the Ijaw people is a legislative matter, which should naturally be handled by the National Assembly and seeking concurrence at the state levels.

“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.

“A contentious issue that has been a subject of discourse amongst the Ijaw people of recent has been the need for the Niger Delta Development Commission to live up to its billing by delivering the required succour to the people of the region. Based on the mismanagement that had previously be-devilled the NDDC, a forensic audit was set up and the result is expected by the end of July, 2021.

“I want to assure you that as soon as the forensic audit report is submitted and accepted, the NDDC Board would be inaugurated. However, I would like to implore you that the Ijaw National Congress should play a more active role in making sure that the mismanagement that occurred in the past is 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.

“Furthermore, we have made considerable progress with the construction of the Bonny to Port Harcourt Bridge.”

 

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