President Muhammadu Buhari revealed his “irritation” with the agitations of the people of the Niger Delta for fairness in the distribution of the nation’s oil wealth.
Buhari made this slip at a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday, January 30, 2016.
While speaking on the topic of the economic challenge the country is facing over drop in crude oil prices, the President delved into the topic of oil theft in the Niger Delta. He expressed anger at claims the people of the region make concerning the natural resources in their land and linked his irritation to having fought in the Nigerian Civil war in which over three million people, mostly Igbos and minority tribes of the South South were killed.
“The theft of the oil market by some Nigerians that happen to live there who feel that the oil belongs to them and not the country is an irritating thing for those of us who participated in the civil war for 30 months in which at least two million Nigerians were killed,” Buhari said.
He regretted that the international oil market had collapsed, resulting in poor income for the country.
There have been renewed restiveness in the Niger Delta region over the perceived anti-South South stance of the Buhari government. Militants blew up strategic oil pipelines in Delta and Bayelsa States.
An associate of Buhari and APC strategist, Colonel Hassan Stanislous-Labo (Rtd) has publicly called for an Odi-style genocide in the region if the communities fail to produce the perpetrators of the pipeline explosions. This call came, even as Buhari’s government said it would hold the leaders of the region responsible for the action of the militants against the country’s oil installations.
Following the announcement of the cancellation of the Maritime University project by the Buhari government, Ijaw leaders and groups have continued to agitate against the decision which is seen as a manifestation of Buhari’s “hatred” for the region.
A former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tompolo faces legal problems over a corruption case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against him. He maintains his innocence and expressed distrust in the legal system to grant him justice as he disregarded court orders for him to appear before the court.
Tompolo says he is being persecuted by the Buhari government because he refused to support the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Buhari’s anti-corruption efforts is widely perceived by people of the Niger Delta as a witch-hunt because it only targets officials who served under former President Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan is from the oil-rich state of Bayelsa and is the only president of Nigeria that hail from the South South region.
The Niger Delta accounts for over 80% of Nigeria’s income base for the past 55 years.