Buhari on white hand raised

Few days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari issued a stern warning to the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and other militant groups in the volatile oil-rich region to embrace dialogue or face military action.
The President warned that his administration would not continue to watch helplessly as a few aggrieved persons destroyed the country’s oil infrastructure when the is­sues at stake could be resolved though dialogue.

Indeed, the NDA and other militant groups operating in the region had in the past few months destroyed critical oil and gas infrastructures in the area, thus jeopardizing the country’s already dwindling economy.
According to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the country loses N107 billion daily due to the vandalization of oil and gas pipelines by the NDA and other militant groups operating in the Niger Delta.

It was apparently against this background that a dis­traught President Buhari warned the militants of the consequences of continuing in their nefarious activities. He warned that the Federal Gov­ernment would use the force of arms to literally drag the militants out of the creeks, al­most the same way they dealt decisively with the marauding Boko Haram terrorists in the scorching North Eastern part of the country.

President Buhari said the Federal Government was open to dialogue with the Ni­ger Delta militants to resolve all contending issues in the oil-rich area.
‘‘We do not believe that they (militants) have an­nounced a ceasefire. We are trying to understand them more; who are their leaders and which areas do they oper­ate and other relevant issues?,” said President Buhari.
The President who spoke duringa bilateral talks with the Japanest Prime Minis­ter declared that if the Niger Delta militants refused to negotiate with his government, he would crush them the same way he crushed Boko Haram.

He further told the Japa­nese leader that with the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists by the military, the attention of the administration was now focused on stopping the destruction of the country’s economic assets by militants in the Niger Delta region.

“We are talking to some of their leaders. We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram if they refuse to talk to us.
“As a government, we know our responsibility which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in an insecure environment,” said President Buhari.

Even before the President asked the militants to accept the option of dialogue or face military onslaught, the Nige­ria Army had readied itself to march to the creeks of Niger Delta to forcefully fish out the militants.

In a ceremony in Sapele, Delta State to mark the official launching of a new military exercise in the Niger Delta code-named ‘Exercise Croco­dile Smile”, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Bu­ratai, said the army had been mandated to “provide security for residents as well as critical nation economic assets in the region.

“We need to keep our coun­try safe. We need to get our economy going without any interruption”, said the army boss. Gen Buratai  was opti­mistic that at the end of the exercise, security would have been achieved in the tempes­tuous oil-rich region.

“ We hope that the econo­my will come up again and the facilities and infrastruc­tures in terms of the oil and gas will be protected and the people around will go about their normal businesses with­out fear of any attack,” said the army chief.
It will be recalled that “Op­eration Delta Safe” was set up by the military during the pre­vious administration to also quell the resurgence of mili­tancy in the Niger Delta.




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