ANABS Sara-Igbe, a prominent Ijaw leader and former Chief Security Adviser to ex-governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, had raised the alarm over the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and equipment, including air missiles in the Niger-Delta region, alleging that it was to bring down the government of President Muhammadu Buhari on its knees.
According to him, the plan has been perfected together with the Independent People of Biafra, to declare Biafra and the Niger-Delta Republics, leaving the country in crises.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, he also traced the violence to the politicisation of the policies of the Federal Government by the state governments in the region, “who are from the opposition party, thereby misinforming the people and making them believe that the present Federal Government is anti-Niger-Delta.”
Sara-Igbe, a security expert, therefore called on President and members of the National Assembly not to allow a repeat of the ugly incidents in the Niger Delta.
He said, “The recent attack on the pipelines and facilities is seriously affecting the environment and ecosystem of the communities and people of the Niger-Delta, where the attacks are carried out. In addition, it has also affected the supply of crude oil to Warri and Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Companies and the supply of gas to several power stations, thereby causing frequent power outage across the country.
“They have acquired sophisticated weapons and equipment like gun boats, surface to air missiles, machine guns, rifles, explosives and hardware, amongst others to prosecute their agenda. Their main strategy is not to confront the security agencies in a shoot-out but to carry out guerrilla warfare that will to bring down the Federal Government on their knees by destroying strategic installations and facilities in the oil and gas sector. Their plan is together with those agitating for Biafra, to declare Biafra and the Niger Delta Republics, leaving the country in crises.”
To check the trend, Sara-Igbe called on the government to see the Presidential Amnesty Programme and the other intervention agencies “as a tool to maintain peace in the Niger Delta area, through adequate funding which should not be compromised.”
He identified the campaigns going round the Niger-Delta that the present administration was anti- Niger Delta, while the Ijaw ethnic nationality, was the reason for the reduced budgetary allocation in 2016 for intervention agencies in the region, as some of the reasons for the violence.
The activist also listed poverty all over the Niger-Delta, despite the fact that the area produces the wealth of the nation, adding “yet the budget of the area was reduced, while, very high budgetary allocation is given to the development of the North East” and the recent threat of militarising the region without providing adequate security to the people from the criminal activities that are been carried out in the region on daily basis.
According to him, the threat to clampdown on some of the ex-militant leaders who played key roles in the immediate-past administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, with particular reference to the arrest warrant issued on Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, was another factor.
He said, “This sentiment is fast gaining ground in the region and the people are beginning to feel that indeed the present administration is not working in the interest of the region. In the light of the above, may I therefore appeal to the Federal Government to urgently take steps that will restore the confidence of the people that indeed this administration is not an enemy of region, but a friend that have come to develop the Niger Delta region and other parts of the country equally.
“The government and the people of Nigeria cannot at this period, when the price of oil is falling to its lowest ebb, afford an interruption of oil production, pipeline vandalism, oil theft or any form of restiveness in the Niger Delta.
“We cannot allow what has happened before the introduction of the Presidential Amnesty Programme to reoccur in the country. Once more, may I most respectfully advice the people of the Niger Delta particularly, the group that calls themselves Niger Delta Avengers to realise that the destruction of pipelines and oil facilities will have an adverse effect on the Niger Delta region, because when you spill oil, the environment is damaged, the land is polluted and our communities are subjected to more hardship.”
— May 16, 2016 @ 17:20 GMT