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Economic sabotage: Presidency begs N/Delta elders, militants

The Presidency has appealed to Niger Delta leaders to exert their influence to stop the economic sabotage and restore normalcy to the restive region.   The…

The Presidency has appealed to Niger Delta leaders to exert their influence to stop the economic sabotage and restore normalcy to the restive region. 

 The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, made the appeal  while featuring on the Express Radio programme.

 The militants have continued to destroy oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region.

 Shehu, who cautioned that violence brings no benefits to anybody, also appealed to the militants to maintain peace in the region as President Muhammadu Buhari sought a permanent solution to the problems worrisome to every citizen.

 "We must  keep national interest above all else and give priority to eschewing violence and destruction," the presidential aide pleaded.

 He said it was regrettable that despite the Federal Government’s good faith in pursuing dialogue with the Niger Delta stakeholders, the militant groups had not reciprocated the gesture in finding peaceful and lasting solution to the crisis in the region.

 "Despite the government’s practical demonstration of goodwill by bringing the parties or stakeholders to the roundtable, the militant groups have continued to blow up national economic assets."

 He said the continued destruction of oil facilities, including those repaired, had inflicted huge hardships on innocent Nigerians "on account of declining oil production output and massive losses of revenues, which in turn, badly affect the ability of governments at all levels to meet their basic obligations, including payment of salaries."

 He said Nigeria was taking a giant leap in infrastructure development by speeding up ongoing projects and investing heavily in the construction and rehabilitation of highways, railways and power generating plants across the nation.

 He explained that Buhari’s administration had chosen to fast track infrastructure-related projects "in order to pump money into the economy as a way of pulling the economy out of recession."

 The presidential spokesman said the government had, therefore, released N750 billion for capital projects in the last five months.

 Shehu, who also noted that the counterpart funds for the take-off of the $11bn Kano-Lagos rail project had been paid, said a number of projects existing on paper were currently "being activated".

 He stated: "The Kano-Katsina dual highway was awarded three years ago by the last administration. They didn’t pay a kobo for its start-up. President Buhari just paid money for the first tranche of 75 kilometers and work has begun apace. Without infrastructure, the country will not witness growth."