Niger Delta crisis to end soon, says President Buhari
• Obama lauds leader’s integrity, B’ Haram’s degradation
• Anglican bishops urge militants to stop bombing
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday assured his United States counterpart Barack Obama that Nigeria is making steady progress towards resolving the Niger Delta crisis.
At a meeting with Obama on the sidelines of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Buhari disclosed: “We are making definite progress on how many factions of the militant groups exist, their leadership and operational basis, and we have equally sought the cooperation of the oil majors. In a short while, I believe, the issues would be resolved.”
He thanked the United States for help rendered in the area of security through the provision of armaments, training for Nigerian troops, and sharing of intelligence, which have led to the degradation of the Boko Haram terror group in the North East. President Buhari said Nigeria was open to support in combating the humanitarian crisis ravaging the terror-torn region.
According to Buhari, the farming season is good this year, with the prospect of good harvest. He said: “Nigeria is on the road to food self-sufficiency. We shall be able to feed ourselves and utilise the billions of dollars spent on importing food on other productive areas.”
He wished President Obama happy retirement, as he winds down gradually on his tenure in office.
Responding, Obama described Buhari as a man of “integrity and honesty,” saying: “We have confidence in your leadership. There are some difficulties you face, but this administration is willing to assist in the short time we have left. You have made real progress in defeating the brutal organisation called Boko Haram, and that was achieved because of your leadership.”
The U.S. President offered a hand of fellowship to Nigeria “in the final and comprehensive defeat of Boko Haram, resolution of the Niger Delta crisis, which would help ramp up oil production and increase revenue, resolving the humanitarian crisis in the North East, recovering stolen money and revamping the economy.”
Back home, Anglican bishops in Nigeria, at the ongoing Church of Nigeria Standing Committee holding in Awka, Anambra State yesterday urged the Niger Delta militants to stop the bombing of the oil facilities in their region, arguing that shutting down the economy would not address their grievances. The bishops appealed to the militants to sheath their swords in order to give peace a chance in the interest of all Nigerians.
In his opening address, the Primate, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, urged Buhari to convene a roundtable meeting between the government and the militants in order to address their grievances. He also advised Buhari to immediately disarm the Fulani herdsmen who he said have destabilised the peace of the country.
“The Standing Committee wishes to make passionate appeal to the militants to spare our economy and stop the bombing of oil facilities. Shutting down the economy is like pulling down the roofs with all of us inside; nobody will escape the negative impact. We equally call on those who can reach them to join in this appeal for the greater good of all.
“The presence of herdsmen in our countryside is not new, they have always been around, the unprovoked attacks on their host communities are sometimes justified by saying that a cow is missing.
“They ambush and waylay people going to their farms, rape women and destroy farmlands, and their victims are at their mercy because they are armed. We call on the Federal Government to immediately disarm these people to return Nigeria to a state of peace,” he said.
On the deplorable condition of the nation’s highways, especially in the South-east, the bishops urged urgent focus on fixing the roads to ameliorate the untold hardship to which people are subjected.
“Our roads are in bad condition all across the country. Since our major means of transport is road, we call on the governments to give the required attention to the roads to reduce the inconveniences, accidents and deaths.”