Nigeria is proposing to invest $10 billion in the Niger Delta region of the country.
This is to discourage continued militancy by local militia and militants campaigning against exploitation and neglect by successive Nigerian government as well as International oil companies operating in their region for the past 50 years.
This good news was broken by Nigeria’s minister of state for petroleum Mr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu who hinted that the money is being earmarked for massive infrastructural development such as construction of roads, railways, hospitals, schools ,reclamation and erosion control e.t.c
Mr. Kachikwu stressed the need for militants to stop disrupting oil and gas production in the region as this has directly impacted on the economy of the country and is the direct cause of the present recession in the country.
Mr. Kachikwu disclosed that a meeting between president Buhari and the various militants as well as community leaders in the region has been scheduled for next week in Abuja. According to him” This meeting confirmed the president’s interest and desired for an enduring peace in the area”
He further disclosed that the proposed $10 billion would not only come from the federal government but also from oil companies, investors and individuals who have a stake in the oil and gas business.
It would be recalled that militant activities have gathered momentum ever since President Buhari, a northern Fulani and retired soldier became president of the country. The militants have always demanded that the money generated from exploitation and sell of crude oil from their region be spent on tackling widespread poverty and under development in their region. They are insisting that more of this oil wealth be spent in the region and are saying so with widespread destruction and disruption of oil and gas production.
It is noteworthy that the oil and gas resources of the Niger delta account for more than 80 % of the foreign revenue of Nigeria. The militants in attacking oil and gas facilities are also blaming the Multinational oil and gas firms notably Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Agip, Total and Shell among others of polluting their environment and refusing to clean it up.
The oil companies are also accused of destroying the livelihood of the local communities who depend entirely on fishing and farming in the surrounding rivers and creeks . However oftentimes these rivers are polluted by oil spillage from the oil firms operations and the communities are hardly compensated for their losses.
Recently a new militant group known, as the Niger Delta Avengers have emerged. They are using a more audacious and damaging bombing campaign targeting oil pipelines and gas plants as well as other oil facilities in the region. Their aim is to stop oil companies from operating in the region. Their activities have caused a sharp fall in the oil production and a resultant effect of a recession in the country.
From an average of over 2.1 million barrels of crude oil produced by Nigeria annually in the past 3 years, oil production has dipped to as low as 1million barrels a day. The fall in production is caused by incessant attacks on critical export facilities including Forcados export terminal by the Niger delta militants notably of them the Avengers.
The president of Nigeria in order to bring this ugly scenario to an end has adopted a carrot and stick approach in dealing with the militants. He has deployed large scale military presence to the Niger delta region to confront the militants and secure peace in the area. He is also engaging the militants in a peaceful and meaningful dialogue to reach a compromise of peace.
It is to further this path of peace that the president through Mr. Kachikwu unveiled the “seven big wins” road map of short to medium term priority programmes by the government to drive the growth of the country’s oil and gas industry and by extension increase Nigeria’s revenue base.