President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit restive Niger Delta region, recently rocked by series of attacks on oil facilities with the Niger Delta Avengers claiming responsibilities.
The visit will be Buhari’s first to the South-South region since becoming the president on May 29, 2015. He was scheduled to visit Cross Rivers but the trip was cancelled.
A media aide to Buhari said the president would travel to Ogoniland in Rivers state to flag off a long-awaited clean-up of the area, which has been affected by oil spills.
“All things being equal, the president will be in Ogoniland on Thursday for the historic clean up of the area,” the aide told AFP.
In August 2011, a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said Ogoniland may require the world’s biggest-ever clean-up.
Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) has carried out several attacks on key pipelines and facilities operated by Shell and Chevron, causing oil production to slump to 1.4 million bpd from 2.2 million.
Buhari had pledged in his address on the occasion of his first anniversary as the president to ‘re-engineeer’ the amnesty programme for repentant former militants and engage leaders from the region in productive dialogue to proffer solutions to the region’s many problems and stem down the spate of attacks on oil installations.
He said, “On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report and are advancing clean-up operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to address the issues that affect the delta communities.
“Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice.”