- Places Individuals Under Watch, As FG Deploys Fighter Jets, Special Forces To Niger Delta
- Enlist Support Of Ex Presidents Obasanjo, Jonathan
- More Groups Emerge, Threaten To Disrupt Oil Production
Faced with the threats by the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force, JNDLF, the Niger delta Avengers, NDA, which have threatened to completely shut down oil production in the Niger Delta region on one hand and fresh threats of succession by the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Movement for The Survival of Biafra, MASSOB, on the other, coupled with the Boko Haram insurgency, the Fulani herdsmen nuisance and other forms of crime and criminality, President Muhammadu Buhari is at his wits end on how to keep Nigeria together.
Apparently overwhelmed by these rising waves of criminality, most of which have demonstrated capacity to dismember the country or cause other forms of dislocation, President Muhammadu Buhari has enlisted the help of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan, both of whom had their own shares of the problems during their various regimes, to bail him out.
Sources from the presidency confirmed to our correspondent that the President is greatly disturbed by the activities of new groups in the Niger Delta, besides the, NDA and IPOB, having demonstrated the capacity to cripple the economy, and sow seeds of division and has been seeking for any possible suggestion that could arrest the situation.
This is even as against intelligence reports that certain powerful individuals from the Niger Delta may be the actual sponsors of the acts of sabotage as a way of undermining Government efforts at meeting its set goals even as President Buhari may have set off an investigation into the activities of some individuals, including a state Governor in one of the oil rich states, to ascertain their likely involvement.
Last week Friday at a meeting with the two of his immediate predecessors, President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have voiced out his fresh concerns over the security of the country, which may have serious effects on his economic recovery agenda, and asked each one of them to bring their experiences to bear on the situation.
Analyst believe that the seeming disturbed looks on President Muhammadu Buhari’s face during the last democracy day broadcast may not be unconnected with the inner troubles he has been going through over the problems of insecurity across the country, and the threats to his economic revival agenda, which he holds very dearly.
Our correspondent learnt that, former President Goodluck Jonathan, in particular, who hails from the Niger Delta, had to cut short his vacation outside to rush back to Nigeria in order to confer with the president over the possible way out, even as we learnt that he has began exploring ways of getting the militants to a round table for negotiations.
Jonathan who eventually implemented the late President Musa Yar’adua’s amnesty programme for Niger Delta militants has already moved back to Otuoke, his home town in the hope of establishing contacts with anybody who may have links with the militants for possible start of reach out talks.
While the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, seems to be soft pedaling on their threat to totally shutdown oil production in Nigeria, other new groups are threatening to intensify attacks on oil pipelines, even as Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, are being joined by MASSOB in intensifying their threat to secede from Nigeria. To this end the President has every cause to worry especially against his promise to Nigerians that he would crush all forms of insurrection, militancy or criminality be it Herdsmen, Boko Haram, Avengers or MASSOB.
President Muhammadu Buhari may be considering using the carrot and stick option, a source told us on Sunday, explaining that the deployments of fighter jets and special forces were in accordance with Military operations in situations as in the Niger Delta, but that he is also looking at the possibility of fully implementing late President Musa Yar’adua’s pact with the militants to fully assuage the anger of other emergent groups.
The Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, on Friday morning claimed responsibility for blowing up an oil facility operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company. The Forcados pipeline, which transports 250,000 barrels per day, which was first bombed in February and had just undergone repairs.
Using its Twitter account @NDAvengers to claim responsibility for the attack, NDA declared that its strike team had also ruptured the Brass to Tebidaba crude pipeline.
They tweeted: NDAvengers blew up the SPDC forcados 48’ export line.“We warned SPDC not to go ahead with repair works but they refused.”At about 3:30am our (@NDAvengers) strike team blow up the Brass to Tebidaba Crude oil line in Bayelsa.”
Following the continuous threat and activities of the NDA, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) deployed additional aircraft to the Niger Delta in support of the military operations code named “OPERATION PULO SHIELD” against militancy, economic sabotage and all forms of criminalities in the South-South region of the Country.
A statement by the spokesman, Group Captain Ayodele Famuyiwa, explained that the deployment was necessitated by the recent spate of attacks on the Nation’s oil and gas installations by the new militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).
He said the additional platforms, comprising fighter aircraft, helicopter gunship and surveillance aircraft, are intended to enhance the capability of the NAF to undertake offensive air operations and intelligence gathering in support of the surfaces forces” Since the recent deployment the NAF has increased air operations around critical infrastructure in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States.
“These include but not limited to Escravos, Forcados in Delta State; Bonga oil field, Agbami offshore and Brass in Bayelsa; Bony in Rivers; Qua Iboe Terminal in Akwa Ibom State, and Opuekeba in Ondo State,” it noted.
It could be recalled that last week, Nigerian security agents engaged members of the pro-Biafra agitators in some parts of Anambra state, especially Onitsha. The signal which was sent to several unit commanders in the Southeastern parts of Nigeria asked the unit commanders to be on “red alert” in case of a breakdown of law and order.
It was reported that, the pro-Biafra agitators embark on street protests in the Southeast, as a result of clash with police during the celebration of Biafran Day in memory of Late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. The clash which resulted in the killing of over 30 persons and injuring many also had about 50 members of the Biafran group arrested by the military and taking to their 302 cantonment in Onitsha.
nationalTrail reports that, following the mayhem, the commercial city of Onitsha especially Nkpor axis, was locked down with the security operatives taking over the roads. Spokesman of IPOB, Emma Powerful, told newsmen that, security operatives had killed over 30 members of the group, while over 50 others arrested and taken to an unknown destination.
He alleged that many others were seriously injured during the clash, adding that the security operatives started arresting their members since 1.30 am when they began their peaceful demonstration. “They were moving around in their Hilux vehicle with a native doctor, when we are celebrating Biafra without any form of weapon, does it mean that we have no right for our fundamental rights,” Emma queried.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in the state, Ali Okechukwu, who refused to comment on the incident, gave the excuse that; they were still busy trying to clear the roads for easy movement.
The leader of MASSOB, Comrade Uchenna Madu, told reporters that Federal Government should look into the matter with a view to arresting the situation, adding that his group was not involved.
He however, warned that if the Igbos were pushed to the wall by security personnel that they would have no other option than to take to arms, which according to him would make Nigeria be in flames. Madu further said that the Federal Government was negotiating with Boko-Haram and Niger Delta militants while the security continued to fight the people without arms and they were keeping quiet.
The conflicting positions over how to amicably resolve the problems could be the president’s worries for now, but the survival of the country under him is even more disturbing to Nigerians, who have been urging him to come up with a solution to these problems as he promised.
The International community which many believed collaborated in the emergence of President Buhari is meanwhile keenly watching to see the President’s magic wand at work. Many of them may have offered suggestions on the way out during his visits to foreign countries, but the President seems to realize that the solution may be home grown, hence the resort to past leaders, with home grown ideas.
By James BWALA- Deputy Editor