Nigeria: 'Why Govt Must Wade Into Threats of Showdown in Niger Delta'

Plumes of smoke in the Niger delta.
16 November 2020

The federal government has been urged to avert the looming crisis in the Niger Delta region in the interest of peace, socio-economic and national security.

Militant groups from the nine states of the Niger Delta region, under the aegis of Reformed Niger Delta Avengers led by self-styled Major General Johnmark Ezonebi, in a statement two weeks ago, gave the federal government 21-day ultimatum to fulfil their 11-point demands or they would resume hostilities in the creeks.

Some of their demands are; urgent release of N98 billion gas flare penalty fund to the host communities of the Niger Delta, total control of their God-given resources in the region, riverine areas in Niger Delta be connected to the cities with roads and bridges with provisions in the 2021 budget.

They also demanded that the proposed 2021 budget, which appropriated billions of naira to the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) should be withdrawn and put on hold, adding that the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs should not be allowed to defend the proposed budget until the substantive board of the NDDC is inaugurated and sworn in by President Muhammadu Buhari.

They threatened that if their demands were not met within 21 days, they would ensure that "anything that stands on our way will be crushed without mercy. All foreign nationals working in the creek with all the multinational oil companies are hereby advised to leave the region as all our unit commanders have put on red alert to resume operation zero oil production in these new fresh demands."

But addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, a security expert and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Jackson Lekan Ojo said, "They are clearly trying to frustrate the Minister but at the end, the Niger Delta as a whole will suffer for it."

"We must be careful because if oil production stops in the Niger Delta, the economy of this country will be grounded and when it is grounded, it will affect the entire Africa.

"Two days of the Avengers coming out in the Niger Delta, Nigeria will feel it more than two months of what we saw in Lagos recently during the EndSARS protests.

"These things are happening because some people just believe that they must enrich themselves while giving out stipends to the boys. This is not going to work.

"What happened recently in Lagos is a tip of an iceberg and we should not pray that something like that erupts in Niger Delta. We won't be able to recover from it for many years.

"I think the federal government needs to do a lot because if there is no peace in the Niger Delta, there won't be peace in Nigeria and the economy of Nigeria can collapse if nothing is done in the Niger Delta," he said.

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