Threat unneccesary, Niger Delta Avengers’ demands already addressed, says Buhari

June 27, 2021
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The Presidency on Sunday said it was curious that the Niger Delta Avengers issued threats to resume bombing of critical oil and gas installations less than 48 hours after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), met with the leadership of the Niger Delta and Ijaw National Congress and the major issues responded to.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement titled, ’Demands by Niger Delta Avengers: President Buhari’s response.’

The Niger Delta group had threatened to embark on economic sabotage unless certain demands, including the development of the Niger Delta and restructuring, are met.

But Adesina said the text of Buhari’s speech at the meeting with the Niger Delta leaders on Friday, which he reproduced in his press statement, rendered the threats by the group unnecessary.

The statement read, “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.

“It is, however, curious 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, at the Presidential Villa, and the germane issues had been responded to, especially call for restructuring of the Federation, and the inauguration of a Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission.

“For clarity and record purposes, below is full text of the speech by President Buhari on Friday, June 25, 2021, which renders any sabre-rattling rather unnecessary.”

In the reproduced text, Buhari told his guests that he was aware of the 10-point demand which the national executive of the Ijaw National Congress made to the Federal Government and assured them that this regime is frontally addressing them.

The President also said he was concerned about the rate of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and reminded his guests that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project had started work with remediation efforts in Ogoni land.

He said he had 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.

He added that the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, under the same ministry, is working to make sure that oil spills are reduced and new ones prevented.

He noted that 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 their call for restructuring, Buhari had said, “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 the 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 licences for marginal fields to Ijaw people. However, as you know, the process of granting licences 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 licences if they qualify.”

On the issue of fair and balanced appointments to reflect federal character principles, Buhari said, “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.”

Buhari said 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.

He said 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.

The President added, “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.”

Buhari expressed delight in the INC’s belief in a united Nigeria and urged members to use their leverage in making sure that they keep working together to keep the country a united, indivisible entity.

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