By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, met behind closed doors with the South-South traditional rulers at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting was sequel to the threat by a Niger Delta group to declare Niger Delta Republic, a separate country from Nigeria, on June 1.
The meeting started about 11.37a.m., after the president signed the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N8. 92 trillion into law.
But Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, in a statement said President Buhari at the meeting said the destruction of oil facilities by vandals was hurting the host communities, majority of the people and environment more than the government.
The president appealed to South-South Monarchs Forum, SSMF, led by King Edmund Daukoru, Mingi XII, Amanyanabo of Nembe Kingdom, and elders of the zone to do more to end pipeline vandalism in their communities.
According to the statement, President Buhari told the traditional rulers who came to congratulate him on his re-election and discuss issues of specific relevance to the zone, that they were culturally and traditionally positioned to complement government efforts on enhancing security in Niger Delta.
He charged them to educate the youths on the dangers such nefarious activities posed to the environment and the economy.
Buhari also decried the spate of kidnapping in the area, urging the royal fathers not to relent in their support to security agencies to effectively contain the negative trend.
Responding to an inquiry by the group on 10 per cent equity participation for host communities in solid minerals and whether the same was applicable to the oil sector, Buhari said: “The constitution is very mindful of the way resources are shared. The 13 per cent derivation means that relative to whatever you are producing, 13 per cent is given to your states.
“Then, whatever is offshore in the continental shelf belongs to the nation. Again your states get their own shares. This means your constituencies get two shares, the 13 per cent derivation and the balance in the continental shelf, which is shared among the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.”
Congratulating the president on his re-election, Daukoru said: “In exercise of our role as traditional rulers, we plead with all those who are unhappy with the imperfections of our electoral process to graciously transcend their grievances and join the immense task we all face of building a secure and prosperous Nigeria.”
A statement by the royal father on behalf of the forum raised the issue of Niger Delta security, economic development, infrastructure, environment and oil sector matters.
On oil sector matters, King Daukoru said: “Mr President, we think it is time to hold operators accountable for their lack of transparency in community development programmes.”