Babachir Lawal, the secretary to the government of the federation, said the federal government of Nigeria, is finding it difficult to fund the 2016 budget due to a wave of attacks on the oil pipelines by militant groups like the Niger Delta Avengers.
Lawal made this revelation on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, while appearing before the joint senate committees on ethics, appropriation, and finance, explaining that “there is a fall in oil production” which is currently at 600,000 barrels per day, compared to the budgeted 2.3million barrels per day.
He declared that this is why the federal government will not be funding constituency projects of the lawmakers, except for key projects designed by the executive which will have “meaningful impact on Nigerians.”
“The statement is correct. That is my statement, we cannot guarantee the implementation of constituency projects in the 2016 budget,” he said.
Adding that “lawmakers are aware that oil barrels had dwindled to about 600,000 per day”.
“This has led to the inability of government to finance the budget. It is the duty of government to prepare the minds of Nigerians ahead that there will be challenges in implementing the budget,” Mr. Lawal said.
“As a government, constituency projects are championed by members of the National Assembly. Like the legislature, members of the executive are politicians who canvassed for votes.
“Government based its principle on zero budgeting this year. Funds will be released to finance key projects in line with the implementation plans of the government,” he said.
The SGF blamed the drop in revenue on the activities of the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers. The militant group have been waging war on oil production in the oil rich region of southern Nigeria.
Who Are The Niger Delta Avengers?
Niger Delta Avengers is a new militancy group that is operating in the oil-rich region of Southern Nigeria. In the second quarter of 2016, the group emerged as the leading militant group mounting attacks on crude oil and gas installations in the troubled region.
The militant group say it is waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands.
The Avengers claims it has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day. An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the waves of attacks on pipelines and oil installations.
The militant group has released its rules of engagement and says that it doesn’t kill anybody or attack oil workers or soldiers. The Delta Avengers called on all other groups operating in the region to abide by these rules of engagement. “We need God now, more than ever,” the group said in a statement.
The Niger Delta Avengers has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]
President Muhammadu Buhari recently rejected the Avengers’ demands saying that the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. The president’s first reaction to the Avengers was to declare war against them. He later promised to “crush them” as he did Boko Haram. That position has shifted to begging them in the ‘name of Almighty God’ to stop the attacks.
Pro-Biafra secessionist group, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has pledged “total allegiance” to the Niger Delta Avengers extolling the militant group for supporting the cause of a free Biafra. MASSOB embraces the tenets of nonviolence. It is led by Ralph Uwazuruike, a lawyer.
In June, 2016 the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, another secessionist group pledged its support for the Niger Delta Avengers, saying the groups’ ideal of freedom align.