By John Shiklam in Kaduna
Former Military Governor of Kaduna State , Colonel Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd) has cautioned President Mohammadu Buhari against using military force on the Niger Delta militants.
Umar said in a statement on Tuesday in Kaduna that the military option is likely to inflict collateral damage to the nation’s fragile economy.
He maintained that the Niger Delta issue cannot be equated to Boko Haram insurgents, whose ideology and activities are not the same and called on the President to engage in a meaningful dialogue to end the crisis in Niger Delta region.
In the statement in titled; “War In The Niger Delta: A Most Dangerous Option,” Umar said the sudden escalation of crisis in the region was very disturbing.
“I am really frightened by the sudden escalation in the Niger Delta region from where there are reports of skirmishes between our security forces and the Niger Delta militants.
“This is happening after the President was quoted as vowing to deal with the militants as he did Boko Haram,” Umar said.
While condemning the position of President Buhari on the crisis, he argued that “all factors considered, the use of military force in an attempt to resolve the lingering crisis is not a good option and must therefore be discarded”.
He maintained further that “as a retired General, Mr. President is well aware of the serious and daunting challenges any military will face in its operations in the most difficult and densely populated Niger Delta region.
“The creeks are so heavily polluted with oil, rendering them highly inflammable. It will take the firing of a few high explosive shells to set the whole area on fire, resulting in inestimable collateral damage among innocent civilians.
“It is also difficult to see how an armed conflict can secure our oil and gas assets in the region, instead it will aid the destructive activities of the militants and lead to total shut down of all oil and gas operations in the area”.
According to him, “The Niger Delta militants cannot be said to be terrorists in the real sense of the word and I believe they are amenable to meaningful dialogue.
“I need not remind the President that a war in the Niger Delta will be viewed and opposed by most objective Nigerians and the International community as unjust and merely aimed at control and exploitation of the region’s oil and gas resources”.