Philip Hammond’s Take on Niger Delta Avengers


I have spent the last few days reflecting on President Muhammadu Buhari’s directives to the military to crack down on members of the Niger Delta Avengers, a new militant group that some have described as “gang of criminals.” The group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which has reduced Nigeria’s oil production and exports to a record 22-year low (1.6 million barrels daily from 2.2 million). Already, the military has been ransacking Gbaramatu Kingdom and other parts of the Niger Delta, supposedly in search of these militants. As usual, innocent people in these communities will no doubt be brutalised during this mission. The truth is that only the old, sick and children will be left in these villages by the time soldiers arrive. The military knows very well that the culprits would have relocated to the high sea. Those advising our president to adopt this military option are just deceiving him. Buhari must learn from the late president Yar’Adua’s carrot and stick approach to militancy in the Niger Delta. He must be joking to think that he can suppress militancy by force. We have oil and gas pipelines running across thousands of kilometres in Niger Delta communities. These cannot be protected by force. Just as British Foreign Minister, Philip Hammond noted recently, our president needs to address issues raised by militants instead of this military option.
Hammond remarked: “A military confrontation with the militants could end in a disaster. It won’t deal with the underlying issues. The idea that your answer is by moving big chunks of the Nigerian army to the Delta simply doesn’t work. The army does not have the capacity while still fighting Boko Haram jihadists in the north. Buhari has got to show as a president from the north that he is not ignoring the Delta; that he is engaging with the challenges in the Delta.” So, Buhari, please reflect on this. You should also spend quality time studying the Yar’Adua model for tackling militancy in the Niger Delta. I will suggest you swiftly bring in Timi Alaibe to manage this crisis.

A Word for Colonel Sani Usman
Acting spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sani Usman rushed to the press on Wednesday to announce that the army had rescued the first of the 219 missing Chibok Schoolgirls kidnapped in April 2014 and gave her name as Falmata‎ Mbalala. Usman was in a hurry to claim credit for what the army did not do; in the process, he got the name of the rescued girl wrong. Amina Ali Nkeki is the real name of the girl rescued and this was done by local vigilante groups on Tuesday. The Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) and local hunters should take the credit for the rescue of Amina. They handed over the girl to the military after securing her. The military has been doing a fantastic job in this war against Boko Haram. The local hunters and vigilante groups have also helped a great deal. They should be given credit for what they are doing. This is the true story. Colonel Usman should set the record straight.

Hadiza Bala-Usman Resurfaces
Remember Hadiza Bala-Usman? She was the co-founder of BringBackOurGirls group, who jumped ship about a year ago to work for Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-rufai as Chief of Staff. This lady, who has not been actively involved in the struggle in the last one year, suddenly resurfaced at the reception for the rescued Chiubok girl, Amina Ali Nkeki at Aso Rock on Thursday. She was so happy reaping from where she did not sow. Obi Ezekwesili, who has devoted the last two years of her life to the struggle for the return of the Chibok girls, was muzzled out of the reception. This is bad belle politics. May Allah save Nigeria from deceitful people