Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed to the leadership of his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, to help him beg the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the oil-rich region of southern Nigeria to stop their attacks on oil installations.
Buhari stated this on Friday, June 24, 2016 at the breaking of fast dinner with the APC leadership at the presidential villa in Abuja.
The tough talking former military ruler quickly declared war on South South militants and ordered air strikes in the region in June 2015 when they were not an organised group but splinters of oil pipeline vandals.
In April 2016, Buhari, in China, promised to ‘crush Niger Delta militants like Boko Haram‘. He repeated the same threat in his Democracy Day broadcast of May 29, 2016. Well, it seems Buhari come to his knees already, as it were
While lamenting the effect of the attacks on oil facilities, President Buhari said the country does not need “such a distraction” at this point in time.
Buhari marvelled at the sophistication of the militants and how they were able to mount attacks on international waters. He also admitted that Niger Delta militants are difficult to relate with because they operate in several groups unlike the Boko Haram sect which has one faction.
“I honestly don’t know how many factions the militants are in the Niger Delta compared to the north-east where you have the Boko Haram,” Buhari said.
“The technology being deployed by the militants to destroy oil installations is high-tech, the way they can go on high sea and international waters and target oil installations is a national problem. It is affecting development.
“No insurance company will want to insure installations that will end up being blown up and no banks will want to finance such installations.
“Those of you who have friends among the leadership or even the militants themselves should plead with them in the name of God Almighty to take it easy.
“We are in a very difficult time, so we have to organise ourselves. Anybody that says he has any other country than Nigeria should go out and see,” he admonished.
The prominent militant group in the Niger Delta, the Avengers began its campaign against oil production in Nigeria sometime in October 2015. The group says it aims to bring Nigeria’s oil production to zero with a view of forcing a free Niger Delta Republic.
The Niger Delta Avengers has mounted attacks against oil pipelines and installations in the troubled region, marking a renewed restiveness in the region. Several other militants groups have also sprung up in the Niger Delta.
President Buhari, at the meeting, also lauded the successful APC primary election in Edo State, saying the polls gave him “a new hope.”
He added that close attention would be paid to Ondo State which comes next.
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.
The militants say they are 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 claim 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.]
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.
Last week, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, another secessionist group pledged its support for the Niger Delta Avengers, saying the groups’ ideal of freedom align.