Former Head of Media and Communication in the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), Mr. Daniel Alabrah, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to look beyond the Niger Delta if he is to end the renewed attack on oil and gas pipelines in the region by the Niger Delta Avengers.
The former PAP media chief, who stated this in a press release on Sunday, 22nd May, 2016, also urged the President to be wary of fifth columnist politicians within and outside the region whose aim is to cause further tension in the Niger Delta.
Alabrah said as a journalist who extensively reported the militancy crisis in the region before becoming one of the managers of the Amnesty Programme, it is necessary to lend a voice as a patriotic duty to the country.
“Genuine stakeholders should no longer remain aloof at a time like this. It is akin to Emperor Nero fiddling while Rome is on fire.
“What is happening in the Niger Delta at the moment is not militancy. Militancy is no longer attractive in the region due to the role of the Amnesty Programme in engendering peace and stabilizing of security. If it is militancy, where are the camps?
“The wrong identification of the problem has led to a wrong prognosis. The government has equally responded wrongly. Applying force alone cannot be the solution even if you deployed all the soldiers in the military. It should learn from the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s experience and how his masterstroke ended militancy in the region.
“The attack on pipelines and oil installations is pure criminality and sabotage. But it requires intelligence gathering to effectively tackle it. Forces beyond and outside the region appear to be behind the current wave of sabotage of oil facilities. The government and the security agencies need to look deeper and cast their intelligence net wider to unravel the masterminds of these nefarious acts,” he said.
Alabrah urged the President to be wary of politicians capitalising on the current situation to set the Niger Delta on fire.
“Various concerned elders and leaders of the region have spoken the minds of the Niger Delta people. We do not want further militarisation of the region. Some persons are benefiting from this crisis and there appears to be external collaboration.
“With a structure like the Amnesty Programme in place, the government can resolve this crisis without firing a bullet or wasting innocent lives. I believe the Coordinator of the programme, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), can apply his vast conflict resolution skills to effectively resolve this situation. He needs the support of both the government and stakeholders in the region. As a security stabilizing programme, Gen. Boroh has executed his mandate well so far.”
Alabrah however warned that if the government continues to starve the programme and beneficiaries of funds, it could be creating room for deeper crisis in the region.
“Beneficiaries in the programme are currently groaning due to non-payment of their stipends for months. The slashing of the budget of the programme drastically is also a bad signal.
Politicians are beginning to exploit the yawning funding gap to lure beneficiaries into acts that are inimical to the economy of the region and the country at large,” Alabrah said.