- Vows to keep region safe for business
By Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Nigerian Army at the weekend rounded off its Crocodile Smile II Operation in the Niger Delta with the rehabilitation of the abandonedÂ Oloibiri Oil Well 1 in Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State, where crude oil was first discovered in the country in 1956.
Shell Darcy, now Shell Petroleum Development Company, (SPDC), had started the drilling of 5,000 barrels per day at the oilfield, but was abandoned after it stopped flowing about two decades ago.
The event which was conducted by 16 Brigade, Yenagoa, led by Brig. Gen Kevin Aligbe, had earlier witnessed the cleaning of major streets in the state capital and donation of hospital equipment to the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai, who was represented by the Commander, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maj Gen. Enobong Udoh,Â said the operation was part of the efforts at making sure that the army was ready and fit to respond to any threat, whether economic or criminal.
â€œThe Nigerian army in consonance with the vision of the current Chief of Army staff to have a professionally responsive army in the discharge of itsÂ constitutional role continues to conduct these operations and training exercises in order to position itself to be able to respond to the threats that we have across the country.
â€œThere are so many of them: Cattle rustling, kidnapping, cultism, militancy, pipeline vandalism, oil theft and the rest. We had Operation Harbin Kunama in the North West, Egwu eke ( python dance) in the South-east and we have been running operation crocodile smile 11.
â€œAll these operations are conducted to position the Nigerian army so that we can have a conducive environment for business activities and for law-abiding citizens to go around without let or hindrance,â€ the military chief said.
He said the operations also afford the army the opportunity to move closer to the people and carry out community relations exercise, including the environment where the oil well is located so as to make it viable for tourism and to â€œkeep the bad boys away.â€Â
In his comments , Brig Gen Aligbe, said the job of the military in the region remains to protect critical oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta, ending illegal oil bunkering, sea piracy and sundry crimes.
He said: â€œWe sought permission to touch base in a symbolic manner in Oloibiri Oil Well 1, being the first commercial oil well in this country. What we are doing today will add tourist value to this iconic monument and encourage tourism enthusiasts in the country and outside and make here a destination of first choice.â€
Governor Seriake Dickson, who was represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (rtd), noted that the military will continue to soar despite all the distractions and praised them for their resilience under very difficult terrains where they work.
â€œTourism is one area that can generate funds. This is an area we are very interested in because it can generate funds. The army has taken the initiative.â€
While defending the military on the rumoured deadly injection, he added: â€œLet me use this time to dispel rumours of (a deadly) vaccination. The Nigerian army as constituted now can never, because I will always speak for them, can never indulge in such a thing. This is not the first time the army is carrying out its medical outreach.
â€œLetâ€™s not allow some disgruntled elements in our society to tarnish the image of those that are fighting so hard trying to keep the country together and making sure there is peace for businesses to prosper.â€