Oil & Gas
Nigeria cannot afford a militancy problem now
The announcement last week by a militant group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers that it was resuming bombing campaigns in the region comes at a time the nation is barely emerging from bruising recession and fighting to regain lost markets on account of a previous campaign last year.
At the height of the madness last year, the country lost a third of its crude oil output and forty percent of crude oil earnings. India, Nigeria’s largest crude oil buyer shifted to the United States as it could not guarantee supplies from the country. States were badly affected as revenues from the Federal Government reduced to pittance. Teachers’ salaries were delayed, civil servants were owed months on end and crime was on the increase.
Suffice to say, Nigeria is a country that does not learn from history, its schools do not even teach it to children hence lessons are lost.
The agitation from the Niger Delta is as old as crude oil exploration in the country itself and the fact that it generates crises till today, analysts say, is the biggest measurement of how abysmal the country’s leaders have been in their failures.
“To the elders of the Niger Delta, PANDEF, we warned you against the antics of the Nigerian Government yet you requested a chance to broker a new vision for our people; we told you and the rest of the world that the Nigerian Government is only interested in our oil wells and not our well-being yet you told us the signs are different this time around.
“Instead of allowing us to continue our quest to bring the Nigerian economy to our targeted zero daily production, which recorded huge success; you threatened us with Tompolo to stop the struggle; out of respect for elders and not to the threat of Tompolo we adhered the call and halted our strike actions hoping you (PANDEF) would keep your own side of the bargain.
The question to Tompolo and the PANDEF is to tell us what progress they achieved since we heeded your retrogressive call, to whose benefit is the move by Tompolo and the Niger Delta elders to impede a mission sanctioned by our ancestors and the Almighty?” said a statement from NDA.
This illustrates the huge trust deficit between the Federal Government and agitators in the region. Many have condemned the cavalier attitude with which the Federal Government treats agreements and contracts it freely enters. Part of the deal to calm tensions were the promise that Ogoniland would be clean of oil spills and their agitations looked into. After a year, it has not commenced.
Last year, Buhari threatened to deal with the militants, comparing them to Boko Haram extremists but when the country lost nearly 1 million barrels per day production it realised that showboating as communication strategy is as ineffective as whispering a battle cry.
Lauretta Onochie, the social media aide of President Muhammadu Buhari, over the weekend suggested that the invitation by an Abuja court to former President Goodluck Jonathan to serve as a witness in a corruption trial relating to Olisa Metuh, a former PDP official could be the reason for the resumption of hostilities by Niger Delta Avengers, typifies the kind of rhetoric that escalates tensions.
Nigeria’s 2017 budget is heavily financed by debt, the economy is still unsteady and food prices are through the roof. Also the country is trying to stabilise crude oil production and win back markets it lost when its production dipped due to militancy last year and cannot afford another round of destruction of oil facilities.
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