February 24, 2017
Recently, in his quest to finding a lasting solution to the unending crisis orchestrated by oil pipeline vandalism cum militancy in the Niger Delta region, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu has called for a single state by state youth group for the amnesty programme, adding that the present administration has also made efforts to end the crisis by launching a seven-point roadmap, engaging the oil-producing communities and sustaining the Amnesty Programme for the repentant militants.
It was noted that Nigeria lost billions of dollars in oil revenue at the peak of militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta, which slashed oil production from a whopping 2.2 million barrels per day to 1 million barrels per day last year.
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According to the Minister, the Niger Delta crisis, coupled with the 45 percent drop in oil production, worsened the financial challenges of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, stressing that the crisis which resulted in attacks on oil and gas facilities with the sub-optimal performance of the refineries, stressing that Nigeria was unable to meet its international obligations as a result of the militancy.
The Minister in the adoption of decentralization of amnesty programme ordered oil companies to engage the state governments and communities on issues affecting the oil-rich states adding that the federal government would stop dealing with the militancy as a national issue but adopt a state-by-state approach.
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In our view, to bring longstanding seizure of hostilities at the oil-rich region, there is need for a total control of the resources by the host communities to enable them to solely achieve the objectives for the collective interest of their region since the federal government have not been able to boast of any tangible development or project since they are in control of the region’s mineral resources.
On the other hand, decentralising the amnesty programme is a recipe for disaster. The excuse that the federal government alone cannot fund the amnesty programme does not hold water. As it stands, most states not economically viable go cap in hand every month for subvention from the federal government and as a result, cannot fund amnesty programme either. If the federal government wants to shirk its responsibility in this regard, then it should be prepared to go with a reduced allocation of its share of the federation account. The problem in the Niger Delta was the creation of successive federal governments that in their greed gave so little for the development of the area from which the wealth of the country came. The federal government must clean up its own mess.
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The federal government established and manages the NDDC and manages but unfortunately, nothing much has been felt throughout the years of its operation. The problems and challenges confronting the region is still there. We should be asking the federal government what has happened to all the monies it claimed to have given to the NDDC. The people of the Niger Delta had long asked for full control of their resources but that was given the scale of neglect in the region. The 13 percent derivation cannot even address their problems, more so with the less than optimum management prevalent in the region and the country, as a whole.
In tackling the scourge prevalent in the region, Kachikwu’s 20-point agenda aimed at instituting permanent peace in the oil-producing region cannot yield much needed results if the government do not sincerely and effectively allude to the demands of the inhabitants of the region. Evidently, the environmental destruction caused by oil spillage in the area has also left much to be desired.
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We also doubt the sincerity behind Kachikwu’s promise of creating 100,000 jobs in each oil-producing state as that has been the ruse of successive governments in trying to assuage the attack on oil pipeline thereby neglecting and taking the region for granted.
Conversely, the bane of corruption in the country also contributed to a larger extent, the sufferings of the people in the region where government officials capitalize on the free flow of income and resources to siphon the region’s collective developmental funds and initiatives thereby giving rise to armed agitation in the area.
It may appear that the attack on oil installations by militants may have been subsided for now but lack of sincerity in tackling these issues will elude the desired result and the government summarily hinging on paid amnesty programmes to pacify them will crop up other violent groups in agitations not borne out of genuine love for their people but for their own selfish gains.
By Chukwuemeka Chimerue
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers