Buhari Reacts to Niger Delta Avengers Threat to Suspend Oil Production
NewsReport June 28, 2021
The media was flooded on Sunday with threats and demands from a group known as the Niger Delta Avengers to engage in economic sabotage by bombing vital oil and gas sites unless certain objectives, such as Niger Delta development and Federation restructuring, were met.
NewsReport gathered that it is, however, curious that the threat came 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, and pertinent issues were addressed, particularly the call for Federation restructuring and the establishment of a Board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
This online news information learned that for the sake of clarity and record-keeping, the following is the complete text of President Buhari’s speech on Friday, June 25, 2021, which renders any saber-rattling somewhat unnecessary:
“I cordially welcome all Niger Delta Elders, particularly the National Executive of the Ijaw National Congress, led by Professor Benjamin Okaba. I appreciate you paying me this courtesy visit so soon after your election in April and swearing-in last May.
“I also want to congratulate you all on your election and to emphasize that a great deal of responsibility has been placed on your shoulders, especially given that the Ijaw National Congress has been almost without leadership for some years.
“As the symbol of the collective voice of the Ijaw people, one of Nigeria’s major ethnic groups, the presence of a focused and people-oriented leadership would go a long way toward articulating the Ijaw people’s demands and ensuring that these demands are included in the national conversation.
“I take special note of your ten-point demand to the federal government in your inaugural address, and I tell you that our administration is directly 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 begun 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, which is part of the same Ministry of Environment, is aiming to limit oil spills and prevent new ones. As you are also aware, all appropriate government authorities have been mandated to guarantee that the International Oil Companies follow international best practices.
“In response to 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 necessary action will not be delayed on my part until they complete the process.
“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 licenses for marginal fields to Ijaw people. However, as you know, the process of granting licenses is guided by laid-down rules and regulations, most of which even favor 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 succor 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 actualize 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.
“I am very happy with the recent affirmation of your belief in a United Nigeria and while I thank you for standing with me, I will also implore you to use your leverage in making sure that we keep working together to keep this country a united, indivisible entity so that we can tackle our problems together and overcome our challenges together.
“I would like now to commend Professor Okaba for your emphasis on supporting the fight against insecurity by developing internal control mechanisms as well as working with other institutions in the country to address our current security challenges.
“While I thank you once more for this visit and I will continue to count on your support as we work towards resolving our current challenges.
“God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
June 27, 2021