– President Muhammadu Buhari has been threatened by the Niger Delta Avengers
– The life-wire of Nigeria’s economy for now is crude oil
– The Niger Delta region should be highly prioritised when it comes to making Nigeria a greater nation.
There have been arguments and counter-arguments regarding the issue of the federal government discussing with the Niger Delta Avengers. The militant group may be seen by some Nigerians as constituting nuisance, however, this is far from the truth. It should be recalled that the Avengers recently made mockery of the Nigerian navy when some naval officers who ought to have arrest them drowned in the creek and died. This is a strong signal to the federal government that the technical-know-how to face this well-sophisticated group is not there.
Another thing the government should remember is that it is not an act of cowardice if it talks to the various militant groups in the region.
Below are some of the reasons for a genuine round-table discussion with the Avengers
1. Economic reasons
No one will like anybody who bites the finger that feeds him. Ever before Nigeria got her independence in 1960 that oil was discovered in Oloibiri in the South-south region, the economic potential of the Niger Delta had been seen. Fast-forward to 2016, Nigeria has earned trillions of dollars from the region. As the militants continue with their attacks, the nation is losing millions of dollars daily, which in turn is affecting the revenue of the country. Nigerians should ask themselves why the country is broke. Apart from dwindling oil prices and a battered economy, the drop in oil production has affected the number of barrels of crude oil produced by the country. This has even made Nigeria to lose its respect among OPEC members.
2. Justice and equity
A negotiation with the Avengers is not all about settling like the amnesty programme of the Yar Adua/Jonathan years. The dialogue will be such that deals with all the grievances boiling in the hearts of those who took up arms against the state. Even if the government monetised the negotiation, it will still be back to square one. At least who is crying could be crying not because he was beaten up, but probably he could be crying because he is not happy with someone did to him. The government should be fair to the Niger Delta region and see what the dialogue will eventually lead to, because a listening leader is a great leader
3. To curb youth restiveness
Nigeria has not fully come out of the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast region. There is hardly any state in the country which did not feel the tension generated by the insurgents when they reigned supreme. There was a time a rumour went round Nigeria that Boko Haram terrorists would invade Lagos. It should be recalled then that everybody developed high fever suddenly, especially Lagos who were scared of how a problem in the North could spill to the South. It should be noted that restiveness do spread like wild fire. An instance was the recent attack on some areas in Ikorodu and the abduction of a monarch around Iba area, both in Lagos of recent by suspected Niger Delta militants. A society will peaceful coexistence ensures growth and development.
4. It will reduce environmental pollution
The Niger Delta region had challenges of oil spillage before the militants started bombing oil pipelines and other facilities. The effect of all these nefarious activities is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The poor citizens of the region who are farmers or fishermen suffer due to environmental pollution. Other effects include people coming up with respiratory tract infections and disease, an imbalance in the ecosystem, environmental degradation, among others.
5. 2019 general elections
President Buhari’s All Progressive Congress (APC) will also be thinking of returning to the centre after 2019 presidential election. Either the current president seeks a second term or the APC substitutes Buhari with someone else, the party will want to continue to rule Nigeria. Before the APC will tell Nigerians to again vote for the party, the reality of a negotiation could be used to win over the electorates from the Niger Delta region, where the APC did not win a single state in 2011 general elections.
6. Buhari is a listening president
President Muhammadu Buhari himself said his administration is in talks with Niger Delta militants. The president said this at a farewell audience on Thursday, July 21, with Michael Zinner, the outgoing Ambassador of Germany to Nigeria at the state House. President Buhari said his government is having a dialogue with the militants through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies, in a move to find a lasting solution to insecurity in the region. Buhari also noted that his government is studying the instruments of the Amnesty Programme inherited from the previous administration, with a view to carrying out commitments made that were undelivered. The president should be applauded for this as he would have thought over the dialogue-solution as the probable way out of the quagmire.
7. Buhari is not anti south-south
Nigeria’s number one citizen has said is several times he is a president for all Nigerians no matter the region or language. Buhari first demonstrated this with his famous line of ‘I belong to all and belong to nobody’ in his inauguration speech on Friday, May 29, 2015. With all sense of modesty, the president has shown this. Nigerians should also remember that the federal government has initiated the project to clean up the Niger Delta region o foil spills.
8. Curbs pipeline vandalism
The president will not continue to fold his arms or stand at akimbo and watch the Avengers blow up all pipelines. Some people could say, the militants are just destroying their region. The truth is that this is far from the truth because the oil pipelines are not just Niger Delta region but for all Nigerians, as the money gotten from the oil transported by the pipelines is for all Nigerians. The people will starve if no more money is generated as income from the sales of petroleum. Nigerian citizens should also remember that gas supplied by some of the pipelines are used to generate power. It was one of the reasons the minister of power, works and housing Babatunde Fashola said power generation has dropped significantly in the country because some of the pipelines which supply gas have been blown up by the militants.
9. Boosts oil production
The country’s daily oil production has significantly dropped. Therefore, the revenue of the country is on the slide. This downward movement will continue as long as nothing is done to talk to the Avengers, However, a negotiation with the militants will help boost crude oil production, and in turn increase Nigeria’s revenue.
10. The unity of the country is at stake
Niger Delta Avengers pose a big threat to the unity of Nigeria. The group is not just talking, but backing it up with actions. This is because what started as a child’s play has led to fear in the minds of people in the indigene. There are some countries that an agitation not as much as that of the Avengers led to their disintegration. It is high time the federal government did the needful in order to wish militancy farewell for good.