Niger Delta: Ex-governor Warns Buhari Against Using Force On Militants, Says They Are Not Terrorists
SAN FRANCISCO, August 31, (THEWILL) – Former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (rtd), Tuesday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to against bombing Niger Delta militants over crisis of oil and gas, warning that a military option is likely to inflict collateral damage on the nation's fragile economy.
He spoke at a time the President recently vowed to deal with the militants as he did with Boko Haram terrorists if they failed to accept negotiating with his government and put a stop to the bombing of oil pipelines in the region.
In a statement entitled: 'War in the Niger Delta: A Most Dangerous Option,' the ex-governor stated that it would be difficult for armed conflict to secure oil and gas assets in the region, stating that it would rather aid destructive activities of the militants and lead to total shut down of all oil and gas operations in the area.
He pointed out that Niger Delta militants could not be said to be terrorists in the real sense of the word, stressing that they are amenable to meaningful dialogue.
The statement reads, “I am really frightened by the sudden escalation in the Niger Delta region from where there are some 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 to Boko Haram.
“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.
“As a retired general, Mr. President is 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 the area highly inflammable. It will take the firing of a few high explosive shells to set the whole area on fire, resulting in the 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 the total shut down of all oil and gas operations in the area.
“Besides, Niger Delta militants cannot be said to be terrorists in the real sense of the word. I believe they are amenable to meaningful dialogue.
“I need not to 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 the control and exploitation of the region's oil and gas resources.
“I, therefore, beseech you Mr. President in the name of all that is good to continue to explore peaceful means of resolving the Niger Delta crisis as painful as you may find this. May God direct and guide you on the path of justice.”