President Muhammadu Buhari has responded to a fresh threat by a militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, to cause instability in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
The group in a recent statement attributed to it said it was planning to sabotage Nigeria’s economy by attacking oil installations in the region.
The group also threatened to attack politicians “collaborating” with the Nigerian government to “undermine” the interest of the region.
But Mr Buhari on Sunday described the group’s statement as “curious.”
“It is 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 (INC), 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 (NDDC),” a presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina said in a statement.
The statement contained Mr Buhari’s remarks during his meeting on Friday with the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) who visited him at the Presidential Villa. The remarks could be seen also as the president’s response to the latest threat by the Niger Delta Avengers, apparently.
Mr Buhari, who expressed concern about the environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, said he had directed the Minister of Environment to ensure that the ongoing cleanup of Ogoniland is “implemented with a high percentage of local content and inclusion of the surrounding communities”.
He said relevant government agencies were working to reduce oil spills in the region.
President Buhari also talked about a request for the creation of additional states and more local government areas for the Ijaw people, as well as the call for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation.
“In addressing 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 as soon as they finalise the process, necessary action would not be delayed on my part.
“In the same vein, your call for 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,” the president said.
He said he agreed with the call for the allocation of operational licenses for marginal fields to Ijaw people, but that it would have to follow laid down rules and regulations. “I see no reason why they should not be granted such licenses if they qualify,” he added.
Mr Buhari also said the completion of the East-West Road, which is meant to link together the states in the Niger Delta region, was top on his administration’s agenda.
“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 succour 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.
“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,” the president said.
The presidential spokesperson, Mr Adesina, said Mr Buhari’s comment “renders any sabre-rattling rather unnecessary.”
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