Niger Delta Militants Threaten New Attacks on Oil InstallationsSeptember 3, 2019 in Nigeria
On Monday 2 September, militants in the Niger Delta threatened to cause collateral damage to oil installations and facilities in the region in the event that the Nigerian Federal Government proceeds with the purported plan to take away supervision of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) from the Ministry of Niger Delta to the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (OSGF).
In a statement issued by the leader of the group, “General” Johnmark Ezonbi, the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA), which is in a coalition with nine other militant groups, warned that “we will bring the nation to its knees and return Nigeria to the era of another recession if the Secretary to Federal Government and so-called selfish self-centred, greed power-drunken politicians refuse to stop their evil arrangement.” The statement went on to say that “it has come to our notice that there was an ongoing meeting initiated by some power-drunk and self-centred leaders from the region, who have lost control of the affairs of the NDDC. They are collaborating with some top officials in the Presidency to transfer the supervision of the NDDC to the OSGF all in a bid to divert the fund for their personal gains towards 2023,” adding “we sternly warn those behind this evil plot to retrace their steps or live to regret their actions as they will not be spared in the onslaught christened ‘Final Battle to Rescue NDDC from the Hawks, Blood for Oil.’” The militants, which had been supportive of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, added that “any attempts to remove the NDDC, from the supervision of Niger Delta Ministry to OSGF would be met with stiff resistance not minding the negative impact our action would have on the nation’s economy.” RNDA leader Ezonbi asserted that the fact that militants had accepted a ceasefire agreement did not mean that civilians living in the Niger Delta region would accept whatever the government decided, stating “they want to render the NDDC meaningless to the region when efforts should be geared to strengthen and release all funds accruing to the Commission, rather they want to reduce it to a mere bureaucratic office, we will not allow that to happen.”
So far, the Nigerian government has not responded to the coalition’s demands, though ignoring any such threats might prove problematic, particularly in a country which is already dealing with continued instability in its north-eastern region, where Boko Haram remains active. Furthermore, Nigeria’s economy is overall recovering from recession, though according to officials growth levels remain constrained and reforms must be carried out to catalyse higher levels of growth and employment. Any attacks carried out in the Niger Delta region will not only further destabilize the area but will most likely impact the economy and will further fuel tensions amongst the local populations, who despite the region’s oil wealth, have seen minimal funds coming back to the local communities.