Niger Delta Militants Vow to Cripple Economy if Buhari’s Re-elected

Muhammadu Buhari

Ejiofor Alike

Militant group in Nigeria’s oil-producing region, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), Thursday threatened to cripple the economy if President Muhammadu Buhari is re-elected next Saturday.

NDA said in a statement that they hoped to end Buhari’s rule through elections, adding that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is their preferred choice for president.

The militant group had launched its presence in the country on February 2016, when it carried out an attack on the Trans-Forcados pipeline, the first subsea attack on oil and gas installations in the country.

The incident, which might have forced Nigeria into recession, affected oil production by many companies in the country, forcing Shell to declare force majeure on lifting of Forcados grade of crude oil.

Consequently, the country lost over one million barrels of crude oil per day from its daily crude output.

However, since its declaration of ceasefire, the group has not carried out substantial attacks in the region since January 2017.

However, the group in a statement posted on its website yesterday, allegedly warned that if President Buhari is re-elected, there would be “a perpetual recession for Nigeria.”

Atiku, the candidate representing the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has proposed to devolve more power to regions in a policy dubbed: ‘restructuring’ that would give states greater control over their finances.

According to the alleged statement made by the group, “We are adopting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the sole candidate to be voted for by all the people of the Niger Delta as a result of his political ideology which is in tandem with our agitation for equitable and fair principles of federalism.”

The Avengers said if elected, Atiku should start a ‘restructuring of Nigeria’ within six months to forestall further attacks in the Niger Delta.

“Atiku has said restructuring will begin on the day he takes office, so he will keep his word, a spokesman for the main opposition candidate, Paul Ibe, said in a telephone interview.”

He said Atiku repeated his commitment to the policy in the last few days at a rally in the oil hub city of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

In recent times, the Buhari’s government had held talks with the militants to address their grievances over poverty and oil pollution in the region for more than a year and this made the group to halt attacks.