President Muhammadu Buhari says the objective of the Niger Delta militancy is to colonise Nigeria economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations.
The president disclosed that the militants engaged in sophisticated sabotage using skills acquired from trainings by either government or oil companies to destroy installations deep in the sea.
President Buhari was speaking at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja in an audience with the Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Frank-Walters Steinmeier.
He said though the security challenge in the north-east had been brought under control; with the Boko Haram insurgency largely defeated, "another serious form of insecurity has reared its head in the Niger Delta.
"The objective is to colonise the country economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations. We are trying to speak with their leaders to know how many groups there are and we are also working with the oil companies.
“The militants engage in sophisticated sabotage, using skills they had gained from trainings either by government, or the oil companies, to vandalise installations deep in the sea," he stated.
President Buhari noted that his administration needed to understand who the real agitators are and engage with them so that confidence could be restored in the region.
The president, who stressed that the Niger Delta situation was more complex since the militants had no central command and some of them were mere "extortioners", assured that "a handle would be found to the unrest soon."
President Buhari also stated that Germany could help curb oil theft in Nigeria through assistance in the areas of equipment, training, and sharing of intelligence with the Nigeria Navy.
"Nigeria’s oil is stolen, and taken away through the Gulf of Guinea. Adequate training and equipping of our navy will prevent this," the president stated.
In his response, Steinmeier said Germany was happy to hear of the strides taken by Buhari’s administration against Boko Haram insurgents in the north-east.
He said his country was willing to lend a helping hand in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
The German minister lauded the anti-corruption war of President Buhari’s administration of which, he said, his country was in support.
Steinmeier said Germany was also interested in investing in renewable energy, gas exploration, mining, among others, to boost Nigeria’s economy.
"Germany will support development in Nigeria. We want closer cooperation on migration issues, urbanisation, and supporting the navy with equipment, training and intelligence," he added.