Are the Niger Delta militants posing a threat to the incoming administration of the former Head of State and president- elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari as they did to current and past regimes?
This question has become relevant because, barely four days after Buhari was declared winner of the Presidential election, beating incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, suspected militants have blown up a major high pressure gas pipeline at Ighwrenene Community in Delta State, warning the President-elect that he may have his hands full in containing the economic sabotage.
The economic sabotage was coming about one week after some former leaders of the Niger Delta militants threatened to return to the creeks and resume their war against the Nigerian state in response to General Buhari’s election victory over Jonathan. But Jonathan’s quick congratulatory message to Buhari even before INEC, the electoral body, officially declared him winner doused tension in the land and forced some of them to retract their words. However, yesterday’s incident made the situation hazy.
Also, a group of Urhobo youths under the aegis of Urhobo Gbagbako yesterday claimed responsibility for the March 22, bombings of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, oil pipe lines in Ekiugbo, Ughelli Local Government Area “on a massive scale.” It said that the aim was to give vent to their demand for pipe line surveillance contracts.
Nigeria is almost a one-product economy with oil contributing to about 90 percent of her wealth.
Late former President, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua had to grant amnesty to the Niger Delta militants who fought from the creeks to drive home their demand for derivation and resource control in the country.
The Federal Government also approved 13 percent derivation as well as other programmes aimed at cushioning the effects of degradation occasioned by oil exploration for the oil producing states.
However, as at 10am yesterday when Saturday Vanguard visited Ighwrenene Community, an official of the NPDC accompanied by two mobile policemen were at the scene making frantic calls on how to extinguish the inferno which was ravaging the area.
Another official attached to the Pipeline Surveillance Unit, PSU, in the area who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the affected pipeline was a trunk line which convey the product from Eriemu, Kokori, Afiesere, Uzere, West-End at Kwale, Ogini, Olomoro and Owhe to the Ughelli Quality Control Center, UQCC.
Attempts by fire fighters from the NPDC, SPDC and the Delta State Fire Service departments to extinguish the fire had not been successful even as one of their trucks got stuck along the road to the scene of the explosion making access to the spot almost impossible.
Meanwhile, the Commanding Officer of the 222 Battalion, Agbarha-Otor, Lt. Col Mathew Oyekola told Saturday Vanguard that 15 suspects have so far been arrested in connection with the incident.
Pipeline surveillance contracts: Urhobo youths commence bombings of oil installations
In a statement yesterday, leader of Urhobo Gbagbako, Priest Omodjuvwu, said the group carried out the latest round of bombing along the Afiesere and Ekiugbo axis of the council area, during which it shut down all the oil fields in Urhobo and Isoko nations.
Omodjuvwu said, “We have earlier warned NPDC and the Federal Government on the pipeline surveillance contract to no avail.
‘’The contract is going on without the inclusion of the Urhobo, and that is injustice being meted to the Urhobo, which we will resist to the end. We need the pipe line surveillance contract now or the bombings will continue.
“We have now commenced bombings of oil and gas installations in Ekiugbo/Ighrenene/Afiesere areas and we will continue in an unprecedented scale, until we get the pipe line surveillance contracts in our area.”
He also, added that the group’s quest for oil contracts was immediate, in the absence of which the youths would continue the assault on oil facilities in their domain, without waiting for the expiration of the 14 days ultimatum earlier credited to it.
The Federal Government was said to have on March 16, reviewed its new plan to safeguard the waterways and oil pipelines by allegedly directing the Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, to quit the job for some companies, which had been signed on by the government.
The companies were reportedly owned by some former Niger Delta militants and prominent citizens including Government Tompolo; Mujaheedin Asari-Dokubo, Chief Bipobiri Ajube (aka Gen. Shoot-At-Sight) as well as the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, led by Dr. Frederick Fasehun and Gani Adams.
About seven companies were said to have been allocated “regions” or operational areas as follows: Egbe Security River One (Bayelsa); Gallery Security (Mosinmi -Ore); Close Body Protection (Edo State); Adex Energy Security(Rivers) ; Donyx Global Concept(Lagos and Ogun); Oil Facilities Surveillance-(Delta) and New Age Global Security (Mosinmi-Ibadan).
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), it was said, would coordinate the jobs.
Nigeria has been battling with huge revenue loss due to vandalism of oil and gas pipelines.
Dokubo threatens to resume militancy in response to Buhari’s election victory.
Niger Delta militant leader Asari Dokubo had threatened to return to the creeks and resume his war against the Nigerian state in response to General Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory over President Goodluck Jonathan.
On Saturday, Nigerians went to the polls to elect a new president and Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, beat incumbent President Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. This was even as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, sent Buhari a congratulatory message, saying that Nigerians made the right choice.
However, Mr Dokubo, who earlier promised to unleash violence on the country if President Jonathan was not re-elected, promised to return to the creeks, blaming the Yoruba and Hausa for working against Ndigbo and Niger Deltans.