President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told the Niger Delta militant group operating on the platform of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), that his response to the demands they had made rendered any ‘sabre-rattling rather unnecessary’.
Buhari was responding to the recent threat by the militant group to resume hostility and cripple the economy, if the Federal Government failed to address the 10-point demands the Niger Delta people had made more than six years ago.
The group had threatened to declare return of violence with ‘Operation Humble’, and ground key oil assets to bring the nation’s economy on her knees, alleging that after four years of cease fire, the Federal Government was unwilling to meet its demands.
NDA, had in a statement on its website, last Saturday, said with the nation even at the brink of disintegration, the Federal Government had continued to feed fat on Niger Delta’s oil wealth with the region still worst neglected.
The group had declared, “We decided to suspend our famous Operation Red Economy which bled the Nigerian economy into recession about four years ago not because we are lazy but for the love we have for our people, and out of respect for the voice of elders of the Niger Delta who beckoned on us to give peace a chance and avail government time to act on our demands at the time.
“To remind this failed government that we have exhausted the very last iota of patience, the High Command of the Niger Delta Avengers have in a meeting held last night made some critical resolutions.
“First, that we have lost total confidence on all socio-cultural groups like PANDEF, the elders of Niger Delta and the bunch of so-called ex-agitators frolicking with the government at our detriment.
“This operation shall be coded OPERATION HUMBLE aimed at bringing down target oil installations capable of humbling the economy into permanent recession.
“This mission is also targeted at political actors collaborating with the Nigerian Government to undermine the interest of the Niger Delta people.
“No doubt, Nigerian Government continues to pay deaf ears to our demands and rising challenges in the country because the pipelines that crisscross our lands are left untouched, allowing dollars to flow into the federal treasury on daily basis for mismanagement.
“We shall spare no oil installation within our range of strategic targets for destruction in the coming days and we bet the Nigerian Government will be humbled to return to the drawing board and chart an all-inclusive course by the time we are done with our action plan.
“Our strike teams across the Niger Delta are commanded to be on red alert awaiting precise strike plans as mapped by the high command of the NDA.
“The high command of the NDA has promoted and appointed one of our finest operatives, Field Commander Tu-ere aka Queen of the Creeks to the rank of ‘Brigadier General’.
“She is an experienced field agent who before now was the head of the counterintelligence unit of the NDA, using her connections with top government and security officials to deliver on her assignment.
“She was part of our elite Strike Teams that attacked and took down the Chevron Valve platform on the 4th of May, 2016; the Shell Forcados 48-inch Export line on the 3rd of June, 2016; and the ExxonMobil Qua Iboe 48” Crude Oil Pipeline on the 11th of July, 2016.
“Brig. Gen. Tu-ere is the first female to ever attain this level, and it is solely out of merit, and is placed in charge by the High Command of the NDA to execute ‘Operation Humble’ to the later.
“We state unequivocally that we are back with ‘Operation Humble’ to humble the economy into permanent recession and political players from the Niger Delta extraction to political retirement.
“Our Strike Teams 01 – 09 and all other formations are to regroup and remain on red alert awaiting further command. No going back till Nigeria economy is humbled into recession, never to rise again.”
However, President Buhari, in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina in Abuja, yesterday, said that he had already responded to the demands.
The statement read, “The media was Sunday awash with threats and demands by a group, Niger Delta Avengers, to embark on economic sabotage through the bombing of critical oil and gas installations unless certain demands, including the development of the Niger Delta, and restructuring of the federation, were met.
“It is, however, 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).
“For clarity and record purposes, below is the full text of the speech by President Buhari on Friday, June 25, 2021, which renders any sabre-rattling rather unnecessary, ‘I warmly welcome all the Elders of the Niger Delta and particularly the National Executive of the Ijaw National Congress, under the leadership of Prof Benjamin Okaba. I thank you for paying this courtesy visit not too long after your election in April, and swearing-in last May.
‘I also want to congratulate you all for your election and to add that a lot of responsibility is placed on your shoulders, especially coming from the fact that the Ijaw National Congress was almost without leadership for some time.
‘As the symbol of the collective voice of the Ijaw people, which is one of Nigeria’s main ethnic groups, the existence of a focused and people-oriented leadership would go a long way in articulating the demands of the Ijaw people and making sure these demands are made part of the national discourse.
‘I particularly note your ten point demand to the Federal Government in your inaugural speech and assure you that this administration is frontally addressing them.
‘I am equally concerned about the rate of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and as you are aware the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) has started work with remediation efforts in Ogoni land and I have directed the Minister of Environment to ensure that the projects are implemented with a high percentage of local content and inclusion of the surrounding communities.
‘Similarly, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), under the same Ministry of Environment is working to make sure that oil spills are reduced and new ones prevented. As you are also aware, all the responsible agencies of government have been directed to ensure that they enforce compliance by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) to international best practices.
“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 the 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.
‘I completely agree with your call to allocate operational licenses for marginal fields to Ijaw people. However, as you know, the process of granting licenses is guided by laid down rules and regulations, most of which even favour local content and local contractors. I see no reason why they should not be granted such licenses if they qualify.
‘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. However, I would like to implore you that the Ijaw National Congress should play a more active role in making sure that the mismanagement that occurred in the past is not repeated.
‘I am particularly happy to note your call for promoting ownership of modular refineries by the Ijaw people and I will urge you to interface 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.
‘Like you well know, completion of the East-West Road is top on my infrastructure agenda and I will look to its speedy conclusion. Again, the occasional disturbance by youths in some communities along the route to construction work would require your close attention and guidance.
‘Furthermore, we have made considerable progress with the construction of the Bonny to Port Harcourt Bridge.
‘I am very happy with the recent affirmation of your belief in a United Nigeria and while I thank you for standing with me, I will also implore you to use your leverage in making sure that we keep working together to keep this country a united, indivisible entity, so that we can tackle our problems together and overcome our challenges together.
‘I would like now to commend Prof Okaba for your emphasis on supporting the fight against insecurity by developing internal control mechanisms as well as working with other institutions in the country to address our current security challenges.
‘While I thank you once more for this visit and I will continue to count on your support as we work towards resolving our current challenges.
‘God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Trans-Kalabari Road: Banigo, Stakeholders Condemn Abduction Of Expatriate
Kalabari traditional rulers and stakeholders have condemned the recent abduction of an expatriate staff of Lubric Construction Company working on the Trans-Kalabari Road.
Speaking at a meeting at the Government House in Port Harcourt, last Friday, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo said she was deeply pained by the unfortunate incident carried out by unknown miscreants.
According to the deputy governor, who said that the State Chief Executive Officer, Nyesom Wike, was desirous to bring more development projects to Kalabari Kingdom, regretted that this act was capable of discouraging him.
“I want to reiterate that our governor is very desirous to do more developmental projects in our communities, there are many more things he has in the card to do for us, and if we allow this ugly thing to surface, that attitude will discourage him”, the deputy governor noted.
Banigo, who said that perpetrators of the heinous crime did not drop from the sky, insisted that they were community people, and must be fished out and dealt with decisively, while calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the abductee.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority, Chief Ferdinand Alabraba, expressed regrets that a project as important as the Trans-Kalabari Road would be tampered with by persons who do not mean well for the Kalabari people.
“If their intention is to run down the good works of our dear governor, over a project which the Kalabari people have been yearning for over the years, then, I am sure God Almighty will not allow them to get away with this dastardly act of kidnapping one expatriate”, Alabraba stressed.
Alabraba further said, “It is important that we talk to ourselves and ensure that everything possible is done to ensure immediate release of the victim, and ensure that measures are put in place to forestall this type of thing in the future”.
Presenting a seven-point communique, Amanyanabo of Minama, King Iboroma Talbot Pokubo, who represented the Amanyanabo of Abonnema, King Disreal Gbobo Bobmanuel, demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the expatriate, and reassured Governor Wike of their unwavering support for the governor.
Buhari Approves Incorporation Of NNPC, Appoints Board Members
President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited be incorporated.
He also approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited with Senator Ifeanyi Ararume as chairman.
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, was appointed chief executive officer.
This was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, saying that the president acted in accordance with the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.
The statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, has directed the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.
“This is in consonance with Section 53(1) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, which requires the Minister of Petroleum Resources to cause for the incorporation of the NNPC Limited within six months of commencement of the Act in consultation with the Minister of Finance on the nominal shares of the company.
“The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr Mele Kolo Kyari, has, therefore, been directed to take necessary steps to ensure that the incorporation of the NNPC Limited is consistent with the provisions of the PIA 2021.
“Also, by the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the PIA 2021, President Buhari has approved the appointment of the Board and Management of the NNPC Limited, with effect from the date of incorporation of the company.
“Chairman of the board is Senator Ifeanyi Ararume, while Mele Kolo Kyari and Umar I. Ajiya are chief executive officer, and chief financial officer, respectively.
“Other board members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North-East); Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North-Central); Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North-West); Senator Margaret Chuba Okadigbo (South-East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South-South); and Chief Pius Akinyelure (South-West).”
Reject Buhari’s Fresh Loan Request, SERAP Tells NASS
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan; and Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila; to reject the fresh request by President Muhammadu Buhari, to borrow $4billion and €710million.
SERAP said if such request must be granted, the Federal Government should publish details of spending of all loans obtained since May 29, 2015.
The group also expressed fear that if the fresh request is granted, it may take Nigeria’s to over N35trillion.
Buhari recently sought the approval of the National Assembly to borrow $4,054,476,863 and €710million, on the grounds of “emerging needs.”
The request was contained in a letter dated August 24, 2021.
In an open letter dated September 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed “concerns about the growing debt crisis, the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of loans that have been obtained, and the perceived unwillingness or inability of the National Assembly to vigorously exercise its constitutional duties to check the apparently indiscriminate borrowing by the government.”
SERAP said, “The National Assembly should not allow the government to accumulate unsustainable levels of debt, and use the country’s scarce resources for staggering and crippling debt service payments rather than for improved access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services and human rights.
“The country’s public debt has mushroomed with no end in sight. The growing national debt is clearly not sustainable. There has been no serious attempt by the government to cut the cost of governance. The leadership of the National Assembly ought to stand up for Nigerians by asserting the body’s constitutional powers to ensure limits on national debt and deficits.
“Should the National Assembly and its leadership fail to rein in government borrowing, and to ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of public loans, SERAP would consider appropriate legal action to compel the National Assembly to discharge its constitutional duties.
“SERAP notes that if approved, the country’s debts will exceed N35trillion. The government is also reportedly pushing the maturity of currently-secured loans to between 10 and 30 years. N11.679trillion is reportedly committed into debt servicing, while only N8.31trillion was expended on capital/development expenditure between 2015 and 2020.
“Ensuring transparency and accountability in the spending of loans by the government and cutting the cost of governance would address the onerous debt servicing, and improve the ability of the government to meet the country’s international obligations to use maximum available resources to ensure the enjoyment of basic economic and social rights, such as quality healthcare and education”, SERAP added.
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