Address The Avengers’ threat | Dailytrust

Address The Avengers’ threat

File photo
File photo

A new threat which aims at further crippling the country’s embattled economy has emerged from the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), one of the more prominent militant groups in the country’s oil-rich Niger Delta region. According to the group, a new wave of attacks on Nigeria’s oil and gas installations in the region is to be launched soon as a protest over “the continued neglect of the region by the federal government”. In a statement from the group, a new “Operation Humble” featuring a wave of fresh bombings of oil and gas installations aimed at crippling the country’s economy is envisaged by them in the coming days. In specific terms, the group stated that: “This operation shall be coded Operation Humble aimed at bringing down targeted oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta, capable of humbling the economy into permanent recession.”

In the wake of this threat, concern among oil and gas industry watchers has risen considerably given the track record of NDA, especially their association with a bulk of past attacks on the county’s oil and gas infrastructure. It is, therefore, considered that taking their threat lightly is unwise.

In 2016, this group attacked many oil fields and terminals, pushing the country’s oil production and export down significantly to between 1.4 and 1.5 barrels per day from its capacity of 2.2 to 2.3 million barrels per day. The country had hardly recovered from that shock when the COVID-19 pandemic came to further stifle growth in the sector. The present threat from the NDA is, therefore, coming at a most inauspicious time when the country is least disposed to be saddled with another round of oil and gas sector crisis.

Incidentally, President Muhammadu Buhari has cautioned that the new threat from the NDA remains unnecessary, saying the government is addressing the concerns of the Niger Delta. Ostensibly, among the options in the president’s kitty for addressing the concerns of the region are the prospects of restructuring the country, as well as the retention of the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). NDDC for now remains a patient in intensive care. The country’s public space is already awash with lurid tales of an ongoing forensic audit exercise to unravel the cesspit of in-house administrative and operational malfeasances which have crippled it since it was established in 2001. Not to be missed in the president’s handling of the Niger Delta situation is the deployment of massive military presence to the zone to contain threats to the infrastructure in the zone. In the circumstances, the options open to the government do not seem to attract the desired results as industry watchers caution that militancy in the region is manifesting increasingly.

In view of the prevailing situation, the government needs to review its disposition towards the Niger Delta. The government needs to refocus its policy direction from the perspective of the people of the region who have expressed misgivings on the present state of affairs, especially with the incongruities associated with extant palliatives to their plight. A case in point is the NDDC which was created specifically to obviate the present dour state of affairs. Its operational failures and the resultant launch of the forensic audit exercise on it testify to the meltdown of its mission and the need for a new set-up to replace the old order. Given that in all of this miasma, the appointment of a substantive Board of Directors to re-engineer and redirect the NDDC seems to be all that the NDA and the other restive interests in the zone are demanding, it serves the longer term interests of the government, the zone and the entire country to oblige such a dispensation as timeously as possible.

Meanwhile, we condemn the threat by the group to destroy oil installations. Violence is not the way to address grievances. There are peaceful ways and the group should adopt those. Members of the group should channel their grievances to the appropriate authourities and wait for action to be taken on them. The country is already suffering economically. Therefore, anything to make the situation worse should be avoided.

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