Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has said Niger Delta militants are receiving training from either the government and the oil companies, adding however that the militancy in the region is complex.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari spoke yesterday during an audience with the Foreign Minister of Federal Republic of Germany, Dr Frank-Walters Steinmeier, at the State House, Abuja.
He told the visitor that the security challenge in the North-east region of the country was under control, with Boko Haram largely defeated.
Buhari, however, added that another serious form of insecurity had reared its head in the Niger Delta, adding that the objective was to colonise the country economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations.
He said: “We are trying to speak with their leaders, to know how many groups there are, and we are also working with the oil companies.
“The militants engage in sophisticated sabotage, using skills they had gained from trainings either by government or the oil companies, to vandalise installations deep in the sea. We need to understand who the real agitators are, and engage them, so that confidence can be restored in the region,” the president added.
Buhari said the Niger Delta situation was more complex, since the militants had no central command, and some of them were mere extortronists but promised that a handle would be found to the unrest soon.
The president said Germany could help curb oil theft in Nigeria through assistance in the areas of equipment, training, and sharing of intelligence with the Nigeria Navy.
“Nigeria’s oil is stolen, and taken away through the Gulf of Guinea. Adequate training and equipping of our navy will prevent this,” the president said.
Steinmeier, in his response, said Germany was happy to hear of the strides taken by the Buhari administration against insurgents in the North-east, adding that they were equally willing to lend a helping hand in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
Applauding the war against corruption, Steinmeier said it had his country’s support, adding that Germany was also interested in investing in renewable energy, gas exploration, mining, among others, to boost Nigeria’s economy.
“Germany will support development in Nigeria. We want closer cooperation on migration issues, urbanization, and supporting the navy with equipment, training and intelligence,” the Foreign Minister said.