The Presidency says the threat by the Niger Delta Avengers to commence bombing of critical oil and gas installations unless government meets certain demands is curious because those demands are already being addressed by the administration.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said on Sunday that it was curious that the threat came 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, where germane issues raised by the group, especially call for restructuring of the Federation, and the inauguration of a board for the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), were responded to.
The Niger Delta Avengers had threatened to embark on economic sabotage through bombing of critical oil and gas installations unless government addresses the development of the Niger Delta, and effect immediate restructuring of the Federation.
But Adesina said those issues, and others, were adequately addressed by President Muhammadu Buhari when the Niger Delta leaders visited him at The Villa.
According to him, the President in his address at the meeting had responded to issues of restructuring, appointment of a board for the NDDC, environmental degradation of the Niger Delta region and many others.
In the address, which Adesina reproduced, Buhari had told his visitors:
“I am equally concerned about the rate of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta and as you are aware the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project 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.”
He said further: “Similarly, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, 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 with international best practices.”
As regards the call for immediate restructuring of the federation, President Buhari said the National Assembly whose responsibility it is has already concluded regional consultations and that as soon as they finalise the process, necessary action would not be delayed on his part.
He also responded to the call for creation of two additional states and more local government areas for the Ijaw people. This, he stressed again, should naturally be handled by the National Assembly.
“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,” he said.
President Buhari noted the “contentious issue” amongst the Ijaw people regarding 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.
He said a forensic audit had already been 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,” he said.
He also noted with delight the call for promoting ownership of modular refineries by the Ijaw people, and urged the leaders of the region to interface with the sons of the region who are involved in the processes of establishing these refineries, especially the Minister of State Petroleum Resources, to actualize the 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,” he said.