- West Africa
- Conflicts - Governance - Oil
Nigerian leader urged to resolve Niger Delta crisis
Acting Nigerian president Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has been urged to use his proximity with the troubled Niger Delta region of Nigeria, to broker a reliable solution to the militant crisis, while he is in power.
Incapacitated president Mr. Umaru Yaradua had offered the militants amnesty, rehabilitation, and money in exchange for peaceful resolution to the oil war in the region. However, the power vacuum created by the absence of Mr. Yaradua, who is still receiving treatment in Saudi Arabia for a heart and kidney ailment, led to a stalled peace process that has provoked the militants into renewed threats.
But Mr. Jonathan who is from the Niger Delta region has been urged by politicians to save the nation another round of economic strain arising from hostilities and violence in the oil region.
Time to act
According to Senator Jack Gyado, an elder statesman in the country, the time to act is now, warning that anything to the contrary would pose serious problems for the nation’s economy; the Niger Delta is too critical to the growth and development of the country.
Senator Gyado reiterated that the gift of money to militants in the Niger Delta would amount to a temporary reprieve. "If you give a militant money, he spends it and when he looks around and sees environmental degradation in his community, he will turn around and pick up his guns and head for the creeks. Therefore, the way out of this situation is to confront it from the root," Gyado is quoted as saying.
Born in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, Mr. Jonathan has been the target of attacks by militants in the delta, who are mostly his fellow members of the Ijaw communities. According to local reports, his house was attacked during the 2007 election, but he was not there at the time.
After the 2009 peace agreement struck by Mr. Yaradua, many of the major militant groups put-down their weapons, while others have formed uneasy truces with the government. According to analysts Mr. Jonathan takes credit for the peace process that was struck, and is up to him to ensure the peace is maintained.
Oil company misdeeds
Senator Gyado further advocated the enactment of laws to regulate practices in the oil sector "in such a way that oil companies that contravene the provisions of the law are punished severely". According to him oil companies operating in Nigeria should be told the truth of their misdeeds to the people of Niger Delta and Nigerians in general.
"Oil companies operating in Nigeria have not helped matters. Not with the daily flaring of gases and other unwholesome practices that expose the people of Niger Delta to all forms of hazards and dangers. Oil companies must observe best practices in Nigeria because what they presently do here are neither practiced anywhere in the world nor in their countries, because they are not the best practices around the world and they know it," Mr. Gyado told reporters.
The United States recently congratulated the country for the handover of power to the deputy leader after two months of political deadlock over the president’s medical condition. "The leadership shown by the National Assembly, the Governors’ Forum, several Ministers, and the courts in finding a way out of the political impasse. The best interests of the country and the future of Nigeria have been well served by this action," said U.S. ambassador Robin Sanders.