Like most well-meaning Nigerians, we are worried at the upshoot of violent activities in the Niger Delta.
The relative peace the nation has enjoyed since 2008 when the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and other militant groups accepted the amnesty offer by the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua’s government came to a screeching halt a few months after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed power and served notice that he would move against certain arrangements put in place by his predecessors which had accommodated the ex-militants as stakeholders in some economic and security activities in the area.
These included the termination of pipeline security contracts given to some ex-militant leaders and intentions to transfer same to the nation’s security forces. It also involved a review of the amnesty programme towards its early wind-up, which did not go down well with some beneficiaries, some of whom were studying in institutions abroad. It also included the prosecution of some individuals alleged to have been involved in some contract scams during President Goodluck Jonathan’s regime.
Some highly placed stakeholders in the Niger Delta who were named in the alleged misdemeanours also complained about plots by some individuals close to the Bbuhari administration to extract some pounds of flesh from them over local quarrels.
In the past eight months or so, there has been a proliferation of militant groups in the creeks, with the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) being the most prominent. These groups have been destroying the oil infrastructure and thus crippling the capacity of Nigeria to meet her 2.4 million barrels per day OPEC quota. All the oil producing companies have suffered setbacks and huge losses.
Nigeria has lost huge sums of money since the resurgence of militant activity. The Monthly Financial and Operations Report of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) indicated that in April 2016 alone, 34 billion Naira was spent on pipeline repairs. The gas supply to the thermal electricity generation companies (GENCO’s) has plunged, thus worsening the power supply outlook in the country.
With the gloomy statistics breathing down on the Nigerian economy as a result of these disruptive sabotages, the 2016 budget may fail, and efforts to revamp the economy may miss the mark.
We call on the Federal Government to deploy all political, diplomatic and leadership skills at its disposal to win back the confidence of all stakeholders and end these disruptions. We also prevail on the militants to see reason and submit themselves to efforts to bring peace to the Niger Delta in the interest of all Nigerians.
All efforts must be made to avert a full-scale military solution to this problem. The costs to this nation cannot be foreseen.