Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari may have struck a $258 million deal with a Saudi Arabia ‘Blackwater’ military contractor to help the Nigerian Armed Forces in fighting militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta region in the southern part of Nigeria.
According to a website, Vaxity, a staff of the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Nigeria confirmed the deal which is “part of the agreement in the Saudi-led Sunni Islamic coalition against terrorism” which President Buhari signed up for on behalf of Nigeria.
The deal, is specifically targeted at fighting the militants in the Niger Delta and nothing to do with combating the two globally recognised terrorist groups in Nigeria – Boko Haram, the world’s deadliest and the Fulani herdsmen militia, now the deadliest terrorist group in Nigeria, the report disclosed.
According to the report, the Saudi military contractor is led by Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general who is a former top adviser to the Saudi government. The report says his company was hired by the Saudi Arabian government to fight on its behalf in Yemen.
Nigerian authorities have not commented on this development.
‘We’re waiting for Saudi mercenaries’ – Niger Delta Avengers
The Niger Delta Avengers, according to Vanguard, said it does not care if the Buhari-led government hires mercenaries from Saudi Arabia or anywhere to fight them.
Reacting to online reports of the president’s deal with Saudi mercenaries to combat the group, spokesperson of the Avengers, Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo said that the militants are not disturbed by the report.
“The Niger Delta Avengers do not care if the federal government hires or concludes plans to bring in Bluewater, Graywater, Pinkwater, Whitewater or Blackwater mercenaries from Saudi Arabia,” Agbinibo is quoted as saying. “It is none of our business, the Saudi Arabia, has its own problem of terrorism, so coming here to help Nigerian government is funny.”
“The Niger Delta region will win this war,” the Avenger’s spokesperson declared.
Foreign Mercenaries Will Complicate Crisis
The Ijaw People Development Initiative, IPDI, has warned President Buhari against involving foreign meceneires in the crisis in the Niger Delta.
In a joint statement signed the group’s national president, Austin Ozobo and spokesperson, Daniel Ezekiel, the Ijaw People’s Development Initiative said that engaging $258 million Saudi mercenaries with the oil money obtained from the Niger Delta region would only “aggravate and teach aggrieved youth better warfare”.
Such a move, the IPDP said, would also embolden the militant groups to acquire modern arms and ammunition to “fight back tomorrow” and that it will not kill the quest for self-determination by the Niger Delta.
“We want to reiterate that bombing Niger Delta communities or wasting $258million to hire fighters to fight the Niger Delta Avengers will not stop Niger Delta quest for self-determination,” the statement said.
“Rather, it will aggravate and teach aggrieved youths better warfare and how to go about acquiring modern equipment to fight back tomorrow.”
The group described the military contract as a waste of money and noted, as worrisome, that President Buhari would engage his Muslim allies to fight the people of the Niger Delta, especially when the region has fed the country for the past 58 years.
“We wonder why the government is so bent on wasting such huge amount of money to hire fighters from Saudi Arabia to fight a region that has fed the country for the past 58 years,” the statement said. “We are also surprised at the president’s decision to hire his Muslim allies to fight Niger Delta people.”
“Why not Nigeria soldiers? What happened to the 100 gunboats, 5 warships and 3 fighter jets earlier deployed to the creeks to fight Niger Delta Avengers, which turned into a venture of intimidating innocent people and invading communities?”