Buhari changes strategy to tackle militancy in Niger Delta
• President orders search, prompt release of Gbaramatu Kingdom’s golden sword
The Federal Government yesterday hinted that President Muhammadu Buhari has changed the strategy for tackling militancy in the Niger Delta by discarding the use of force.
A top presidential aide who asked not to be named informed The Guardian of the adoption of a new outreach strategy for the Niger Delta situation, saying that the President specifically sent his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo on a diplomatic visit to oil-producing communities in the region.
“The President in fact gave an order after the Vice President’s visit to Gbaramatu that an investigation be conducted to determine what happened during a supposed raid by the military on Gbaramatu community where it was alleged that the Kingdom’s golden sword was taken away,” the official disclosed yesterday.
“The presidential order also directed that a search for the golden sword of the kingdom allegedly confiscated (if this is found to be so) should be recovered and once located promptly released to the community with an apology.”
The vice president has, in an ongoing Niger Delta tour, visited Rivers, Delta, Imo and Bayelsa states to douse tension and assure the people of government’s readiness to meet their genuine demands.
Oil production had suffered major setbacks as militants blew pipelines and sabotaged government’s efforts to restore normal production processes.
A presidency official said yesterday that series of meetings between the President and the VP early this year reached the conclusion that government should warmly embrace the communities by encouraging the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) which met with the President late last year.
The President was said to have given firm instructions to the Vice President to embark on the trips to Niger Delta states.
An official source said President Buhari had instructed Osinbajo to go and work out details of series of tours and visits to all the states in the country with oil-producing communities and ensure that “all interests are brought to the table, regardless of parties or other differing factors.
“The meetings also resolved that the amnesty programme, which the President had already instructed should be maintained with more funding, and this must be clearly communicated to the communities by the VP, to demonstrate government’s firm commitment,” the presidential aide said.
“Also at the meeting Buhari held with his deputy he restated his commitment to the Maritime University project in Delta State. “It was also decided that the immediate requests of the communities would be earnestly considered to restore the people’s confidence.”