Buhari Urged To Review Pipeline Contracts To Ex-Militants
THE incoming General Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been warned that the federal government’s selective award of pipeline surveillance contracts to ex-militant commanders may resuscitate insurgence.
A study on the post-amnesty programme by academics in the Niger Delta which is to be submitted to the incoming federal government, observed that as the amnesty programme moves closer to its terminal date, the basic issues that led to the Niger Delta insurgency have not been adequately addressed.
The team’s technical leader, Dr. Sofiri Peterside, stated this while presenting the executive summary of Niger Delta post-amnesty study report at a workshop organized by the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Port Harcourt and the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, in Port Harcourt yesterday.
Peterside observed that although insurgency has declined considerably in recent years, the award of multi-million dollar contracts to select ex-militants would lead to old rivalry, leading to factionalism and intra and inter-militant group struggles.
According to him, organised crimes remain formidable threat to peace and stability in the region and the incoming federal administration must be resolute to tackle the criminal gangs.
“The persistence of oil theft otherwise known as oil bunkering, despite reports of onslaught by state security forces and multi-billion Naira oil pipelines protection contract awarded to ex-militant leaders, is an indication that government needs to do more to contain the theft of crude oil in the country.
The federal government should enlist the support of countries and international agencies to explore the possibility of tracking the stolen oil from Nigeria through finger printing of oil to identity its origin”, he said.
He explained that the research which will be presented to the incoming federal government as a policy document, discovered that sub-national struggle in the oil rich Niger Delta region has gradually given way to organised criminal syndicate that deal in oil theft, illegal oil refining, arms running and kidnapping of oil workers, politicians and their associates.
Based on findings carried out in Rivers, Delta, Edo, Ondo and Akwa Ibom States, Peterside noted that the basic issues that led to the Niger Delta insurgency have not been adequately addressed. According to him, rising inequality, poverty and unemployment are threats that may disrupt the relative peace enjoyed in the amnesty phase.
“There is general lack of sufficient infrastructure such as electricity, potable water, water transportation system and good road networks among others. As the programme winds up in 2015, there is need for massive infrastructural development in the region because of its economic development potentials”, he said.
The study revealed that the skill acquisition programme provided by the amnesty programme is simply not enough to turn around the crises of unemployment and economic empowerment in the Niger Delta.
It recommended that what is required is recreation of the indigenous economy, sustained national economic recovery and income generation opportunities for ex-militants and generality of the people of the Niger Delta.
Peterside recalled that the emergence of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in 2006 accentuated attacks on oil industry installations as the state of security forces began to guard them. He pointed out that from a high of 2.6 million barrels per day in 2006, the activities of MEND reduced oil production to 1.6 million in April 2009.
He noted that regrettably, the unrest in the Niger Delta turned into a criminal movement that feeds on massive theft of crude oil today.
According to him, while the amnesty offered to militants has resulted in increased oil production and the training of 11,000 ex-militants, there is increased sea piracy and oil theft that must be tackled by the incoming government.