Niger Deltans warn Buhari on tactics

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

• Say B’Haram war strategy won’t work
• ‘It’s ploy to emasculate region’

Much as activities of pipeline vandals have hampered electricity and petroleum product supply across the country, recent statement by President Muhammadu Buhari on how he plans to solve the problem might not be the best approach.

Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey, has said Buhari’s statement is extreme; besides, it is pregnant and worrisome when seen in a historical perspective.

He noted that there has been a general criminalisation of the Niger Delta communities and this has led to the destruction of communities such as, Umuechen (1990), Odi (1999), Odioma (2005), Oporoza and others.

In Beijing for a working visit, last week, Buhari had told members of the Nigerian community: “The government is still being dared, but those who are sensible should have learnt a lesson. Those who are mad, let them continue in their madness. I am aware that in the last two weeks, the national grid collapsed a number of times. I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations. We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram.”

Having initially performed dismally in the war against Boko Haram, the Nigerian military, following new impetus by the Federal Government, has been able to reclaim 14 council areas earlier held by the terrorists.

The president of the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Udengs Eradiri, criticised Buhari for showing a lack of understanding of the precarious nature of problems facing the country, especially, the Niger Delta issue.

He said: “It will do him good if he sits down, looks at the Niger Delta situation, engages stakeholders and understands the true situation. He must also understand that there are different dimension to oil theft.

“We have people sitting with the President in Abuja, who are the kingpins in the business of illegal oil bunkering and other forms of oil theft.

“If he thinks that it is to come and bombard our communities and get peace, it is not going to be possible. The thieves are with him there in Abuja. So, he should look inwards if he wants to find solution to the Niger Delta problem.”

Bassey said the comparison is extreme and could lead to the escalation of militarisation and occupation of the region. “That would neither secure the pipelines nor protect the environment,” he remarked.

The environmental activist stated that isolated individuals, who could be stemmed through joint policing by communities and security forces, cause pipeline vandalisation. “Some of the so-called vandals, especially the technically savvy ones, are possibly embedded in the petroleum sector, rather than in the communities.”

According to him, “criminalising an already harassed populations will not end the crises in the oil fields. We need holistic solutions. We need positive change. The gun will not solve the crises. The solution will include the clean up of the Niger Delta and restoration of livelihoods, as well as, a careful plan to ensure that economic incentives directly reach the communities.”

At the weekend, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo had also echoed Buhari’s stance, saying: “All of us must agree with the President that the vandals must be treated in the most severe manner and should not be tolerated at all.”

Speaking after he inspected bombed pipelines at Forcados Terminal in Burutu Local Council of Delta State, Osinbajo said vandals are “as bad as any type of terrorists or saboteurs” and “should not be tolerated under any circumstance.”

He added: “We would have to deploy even sophisticated weapons to ensure we contain the vandalism, overhaul security and permanent pipeline security force might also be an option to look at.”

But Mr. Tonye Timi (Patani), a member of the Delta State House of Assembly, described Buhari’s declaration as unfair and an attempt to lay foundation for a calculated emasculation of Niger Delta people.

An ethnic Ijaw, Timi said it is totally off the mark for anyone to equate Boko Haram’s bloody activities with the Niger Delta’s legitimate struggles against marginalisation and a determination to have a say on their God-given resources.

He said: “It is trite that the Niger Delta struggle is focused on development, while Boko Haram is a meaningless struggle targeted at destruction.”

Timi said Niger Delta people would resist any attempt to visit them with presidential might, which should rather be directed towards driving Boko Haram out of Nigeria.

He advised the Federal Government not to dissipate energy and scarce resources in a futile effort to militarise the Niger Delta, but rather focus on taming the sect in the Northeast.

Former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Ledum Mitee, said without justifying pipeline vandalism, it would be absurd to place offenders at par with those who are actually involved in armed insurrection against the state.

Mitee, who is the immediate past chairman of the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) and chairman of the sub-committee of the National Economic Council on Pipeline Vandalisation and Oil Theft, said instead of awarding pipeline protection contracts indiscriminately, the government should award them to communities in the Niger Delta, because they have local solution to the problem.

He regretted, “all the time, we play into the hands of security agents who want to make money when there is a threat to security. Now, they will claim oil vandals are destroying the economy, ‘Give us so, so billion naira and we will stamp out oil vandalism’.”

On his part, the director, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Anyakwee Nsirimovu, wants President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate why after more than 20 years, the special security Joint Task Force that has been operating in Niger Delta has not been able to end pipeline vandalism.



20 Comments
  • Simeon

    It is these Ijaws supporting people blowing up pipelines are criminals and enemies of Nigeria. How can any sensible people person support blowing up pipeline knowing it will cause environmental degradation and bring economic hardship to the people including the Ijaws. It is clear most ijaws are criminals and the rest support the criminality of their ijaw brothers. What s shame!

    • ProlifiQflow

      Are u done?…

  • Smiles

    I’m still in shock as to what I’ve just read here, I believe keeping a very close tab on these so called Ijaw leaders / representatives would be a big step in the right direction to solving the problem of pipeline vandalism. It’s like the commentators here are directly or indirectly beneficiaries of the proceeds from pipeline vandalism, cos I can’t understand why a past chairman of NEITI will be advocating for billions to him/his thugs before they can “stamp” out vandalism. The better part of Jonathan’s regime saw the pipeline protection contracts running into billions annually given to the most notorious militants in that region yet there were confirmed reports of oil theft up to an alarming rate of 400,000bpd . @simeon May God help Nigeria

  • compatriot

    This Ijaw people never sabi anything, they think Buhari is Jonathan who can swayed with sentiments, leave Nigeria’s pipeline alone or see your numbers drastically reduce

    • THEVOICEOFTHEFUTURE

      Hunger is your case.

  • Darlynstar

    Let buhari start bombing the niger delta if he is so brainless ….the people will bury their dead then face him…leave the oil of the niger delta alone. … buhari closed down the nigeria maritime university in the niger delta which is suppose to benefit the people then he opens jis mouth to talk about genocide…he will not live to conclude his actions if he attempts the killings in the niger delta….he will realise that there are limits to his powers as a president

  • Shobayo Babatunde

    If gun is the only solution to this problem of all this thief called ijaws then Mr President should make sure he does that bcoz a sensible person will never support this rubbish, and if care is not taken now this ijaw or what so called their name will turn them self to another boko harram in nigeria. And this goes to Mr President too. Mr President you too provide better work to the youths regardless of their certificate nor results so that they live a meaningful life, if you our elders are living good and all your children’s are all in abroad living good, their is now way people will not be joining bad gang, but we’ll living youth will never support any form of criminal act. Mr President do need full so that the country can be a better place for every1 and not for only the rich once. Thanks i remain Shobayo Babatunde Olasunkanmi.

  • Femi

    You call ijaw struggle legitimate to drive development of their communities as opposed to boko haram senseless insurgence. Well, far from true because when GEJ was in power, we know how much of indiscriminate contracts Ijaws got under his regime. Instead of the Ijaws through this preferential empowerment to develop their community but we see is further marginalization of the ijaw people by the few privilege Ijaws getting the pipeline protection contract.

    Even the Ijaws don’t want their own development, the few privileged Ijaws only pursued their own interest and left legacy of massive fraud. So, they should stop crying wolf because the cheese had been moved. They should stop crying marginalization when they couldn’t even better the lots of their own when the opportunities was in their hands. This is smirk of laziness and selfishness just to be feeding off “dubious” oil contracts in the name pursuing the development of Ijaws communities.

    Terrorist they are!

    • THEVOICEOFTHEFUTURE

      You are infected by a nepotistical virus,it causes ppl to have myopic reasoning,making you to think other ppl are not worthy to benefit from things that should normally be their birthright,it usually affects ZOO ANIMALS,your case is one of the endemic cases most prevalent in countries such as Zoogeria,the cure my brother is Love,Love for ppl that are not of your tribe,try it,it will give your soul a lift,so sad,so sad.

  • Gbogboade

    Lets sit with the comunities, please. And pursue what can be done through communal mobilization against vandals. A call to arms must be the last resort. The solution may lie with the communities.

  • front man

    This people are enemy of progress

    • Osanebi Osakuni

      The people feeding you and your state are the enemies of progress. You people that receive revenue share without contributing anything are then what? Strange!

      • front man

        Chaaaiii there is God oooo

      • front man

        You know your kinsmen including yourself are enemies of progress

        • Osanebi Osakuni

          Yes we are the type of enemies of progress that feed parasites like you who don’t contribute anything. That is the irony.

  • Osanebi Osakuni

    When a peoples’ leadership is driven by hatred, illiteracy and Islamic extremism what we see today in Nigeria is inevitable. Only a compound fool thinks that he can protect an inflammable substance that is located in inaccessible terrain because of military might. Buhari has continued to demonstrate his foolishness beyond measure otherwise how can a sane old man keep mute while his kinsmen are harvesting innocent lives in rural communities only to boast of visiting those that feed him and his state with war. Idiotic!

  • Damilola

    That Fulani man is bluffing, I can place a bet on that. I’m sure his ego and guts were aroused by the environment he found himself. Getting back home, I’m sure some senses would be borrowed him.

  • Ralfiezzle

    It’s about time Ijaws start to realize Buhari was a former military General with military experiences over his predecessor. A point to be noted is this, the boko haram had better millitary arsenal than the N.D millitants,they also have stronger sponsors from within and outside the country than the N.D militants would ever have.Right now President Buhari is winning the war over B.H. It won’t cost him much time and men to spare to deal with these oil bunkering thieves in the creek.

    • THEVOICEOFTHEFUTURE

      Sorry to use harse words,but you are a big fool to think militarizing Niger delta is the solution to pipeline vandalism,even OBJ who is a more acomplished soldier tried it and it resulted in worse agitation.i Know Buhari is not interested in stopping this vandalism else he won’t have sanctioned the changes in the PIB,what Buhari wants is for Niger delta to stay like slaves while their environment is being degraded and the proceeds of the oil taken away by foreigners and other selfish Nigerians.ppl like you are hailing him on because you think like a zoo animal,caged and shackled.

  • THEVOICEOFTHEFUTURE

    I am appalled by what i have just read,and even more so by the comments of Nigerians here,it seems that Nigerians have very short memories,lack good moral upbringing,are very weak leaders and are very selfish individuals.why?1)The military option has been tried since the days of Gowon to OBJ,it failed dismally leading to Nigeria producing less than 1m barrels aday as at 2007,this is what led to the amnesty program by Yaradua,somehow you all have forgotten that.(2)To end this recurring cycle of vandalism the previous govt replaced in the proposed PIB,13% derivation replacing it with 10% community fund,this fund was meant to be used for direct development of the communities affected by oil production,it will also be used in the eventuality that there is a pipeline vandalisatiob to repair same,this would have instantly solved this issue by making the communities to feel like co owners,but sadly Buhari has erased that clause in the bill as well as the local content clause,now he is threathning ppl.(3)Niger delta is not North east nor Boko haram,a full scale war as threathened by Buhari will destry Nigeria’s crude oil industry,just 1 year of such a military campaign and Nigeria will find it impossible to pay soldiers not to talk of buying weapons.All those hailing this Buhari fellow are shallow and selfish,soon it will dawn on you.

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