2019: Militants Up Against Buhari, Back Call For Mass Action In Niger Delta

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Armed rebels in the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s main oil and gas region, say they are in total support of the ongoing call for a mass action against the re-election seeking administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, for allegedly neglecting the area.

Spokesperson of the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), Cynthia Whyte, in a statement said the insurgents’ network was in support of the renewed agitation in the environmentally despoiled oil region.

The militants were reacting to the ongoing lobby in the region for a mass action by the Council for Mass Action in the Niger Delta. The Council has been calling global attention to what they described as, ‘’the increasing poor treatment that the Niger Delta and its people has been receiving from the government of President Buhari since his inauguration as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015’’.

This is coming at a time Nigeria has recorded a significant increase in oil export revenue as the country reportedly earned $26 billion in the first seven months of this year. The country saw her oil export revenue jump by 30 per cent to $34 billion in 2017 from $26 billion in 2016, according to the OPEC Revenues Fact Sheet that was released by the Energy Information Administration.

As Africa’s top oil producer, Nigeria had the sixth biggest revenue in the 15-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the lowest per capital oil revenue last year.

The country’s crude oil production as at last August, stood at the level of 1.93 million barrels per day, up from 1.86 million in July, and down from 2.027 million one year ago. Data nalysts say this is a change of 3.76% from July and -4.79% from one year ago.

Proshare Nigeria Limited, a financial information service hub founded in December 2006, with a key focus on markets, business, technology regulation and the economy, said stronger oil prices since the start of 2017 have been enabled by the joint output agreement  between  the  OPEC exempted from the deal during its first year as the country recuperated her oil production.

Nigeria was handed a joint quota of 2.8 million barrels per day. Considering the Federal Government’s 2018 budget target of 2.3 million barrels per day, ‘’we assess how much crude oil the country can produce this year in light of the output constraint imposed by OPEC.

‘’Based on historical output, Nigeria can lay claim to at least 1.8 mmbd of the OPEC cap, leaving the remaining 1.0 to Libya. The OPEC cap excludes Nigeria’s condensate output. Meanwhile, the budget benchmark of 2.3 mmbd is inclusive of condensates. Therefore, to operate within the OPEC limit and still achieve its budget target, Nigeria would need to least 0.5 mmbd of condensates’’.

All these could be history if the oil region erupt again in an orgy of a wild cat protest. ‘’The past three years has been an intensely terrifying experience for the Niger Delta and its people’’, Godswill Tamuno, the spokesman for the mass action group said.

According to them, ‘’for three whole years and counting, the government of General Buhari, a former dictator and now President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has deliberately launched a campaign to subdue, neglect and abandon the Niger Delta. For three years and counting, there has been no new project and no new vision for the Niger Delta.

‘’Old projects such as the East-West Road that was reaching completion stage has been recklessly abandoned. Old programmes such as the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been largely neglected and abandoned.

‘’Instead, resources from the Niger Delta are being channeled to fund interventionist programmes in North-East Nigeria much to the chagrin to former militants and combatant elements in the Niger Delta. More than $6.4 billion has been spent on intervention programmes in North-East Nigeria’’.

Continuing, they alleged that a $2.00 billion refinery project is being planned for the border town of Mashi in President Buhari’s home state of Katsina, adding, ‘’the refinery project will also include a multi-billion dollar pipeline that will run from Katsina state to Niger Republic’’.

The rest of their cry for mass action went thus: ‘’It does not matter that the old Kaduna refinery, which was built for billions of naira sourced from the Niger Delta has today failed. Also, a multi-billion dollar railway line is being planned to run from Daura, President Buhari’s home town to Maradi in Niger State through the Nigerian – Nigerien border town ofJibia.

‘’In 2016, $3.3billion was spent on intervention programmes in the North-East. In 2017, another $3.1billion was also spent on intervention. In 2018, a similar amount has been quietly provided for in the 2018 budget. This does not include the recent declaration of a provision of $1.00 billion for security purposes in the North-East.

‘’Yet, the same Federal Government continues to complain of lack of funds to prosecute the Clean-Up of Ogoni land and complete the East-West Road. Should we therefore assume that because the people of the Niger Delta have chosen the path of dialogue and peace, the Buhari regime has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the development of the Niger Delta region?

‘’The Presidential Amnesty Programme, which was designed to cater for former agitating elements in the Niger Delta, has been completely abandoned with funding almost completely stopped. Should our people therefore reject the Amnesty Programme and declare an end to the truce with the Nigerian state?

’Boko Haram, the Islamic militant group that has killed more than 1000 Nigerian soldiers, razed down more than 40 communities in the North-East region of Nigeria, abducted thousands of innocent women and children, yet they have become the new bride of the Buhari administration.

‘’In spite of all the deaths, havoc and pains that Boko Haram have continued to unleash on Northern Nigeria, no member or leader of Boko Haram has been arrested, jailed or punished.

‘’The continued neglect of the Niger Delta has resulted in increased insecurity in the area and a rise in the establishment illegal oil refineries in the Niger Delta with an attendant increase in environmental pollution. There is continued increased in poverty, pain, hardship and squalor. Communities who produce oil and gas are even worse hit.

‘’The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), which is supposed to be an interventionist agency of the Federal Government in the Niger Delta, has become an avenue for slush funds to cater to the political needs of partisan politics rather than the needs of the people of the Niger Delta. Even the President’s wife is a recipient of NDDC contracts.

‘’This explains why the Chairman of the Commission, a former Senator is currently an APC senatorial candidate in Cross River State while the Managing Director of the Commission, is an APC gubernatorial candidate in Akwa Ibom State!

‘’The same Federal Government, which has abandoned the Amnesty Programme, recently awarded a multi-billion naira surveillance and protection contract (of Trans Forcados Pipeline TFP) to a company called Ocean Marine Solutions, owned by a friend of the Buhari government, for the princely sum of $18.5 million (N6.66billion).

‘’What if this pipeline is completely attacked and destroyed again?

‘’We therefore call on all groups in the Niger Delta to rise up to the new challenge.

‘’If the Presidential Amnesty Programme cannot be properly funded and catered for, then our people will reject it and all former combatants will renege on all existing agreements. If the resources of the Niger Delta cannot be used to improve the quality of life of our people, then there will be no need for fight for peace in the Niger Delta.

‘’It will amount to full blown debauchery if we sit back and allow the exploitation of the Niger Delta to continue while our people are given a cold shoulder by the Buhari government.

‘’The time has come for all men of goodwill to return to the drawing board. It is time to redeem, rescue and salvage the Niger Delta.

‘’We call on all former agitating groups in the Niger Delta to come together and chart a new way forward. Our silence must never be mistaken for cowardice. If we do not come together and act, we will all be consumed by the ignominy of the Buhari junta’’.

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