Termination Of Pipeline Contracts Responsible For Niger Delta Crisis’ | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Termination Of Pipeline Contracts Responsible For Niger Delta Crisis’

Charles Anike PIX 2[1]
Posted: Jun 9, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Hon. Charles Anike, National President of the Eastern Union (EU), a socio-political pressure group fighting for the interests of the people of Old Eastern Nigeria, in this interview takes a look at the first year of President Muhammadu Buhari. In this encounter with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he also speaks on the new wave of militancy in Niger Delta among other national issues

What is your impression of President Muhammadu Buhari’s  first year in office?

We are seeing the first one year in office of the President the way every other ordinary Nigerian is seeing it. There is not much to celebrate because there are not much tangible achievements. The government is still yet to settle down to work. It still seems to be operating like an opposition party. Maybe, both the President and the party leaders are too used to opposition lifestyle or may have been over possessed by the spirit of opposition. It is really time to get down to work. Nigerians are tired of excuses and blame games that the government has become known for. This government has totally demonstrated weariness and too much mediocrity in its activities so far. But, it still has some ample time to revert to its real change mantra. However, we must commend the President Buhari for summoning courage to dare to tackle corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric of our national life. We can only encourage him to move on with the fight and that he should also dare to extend the fight to some sacred cows in the APC camps, so that it will not continue to be seen as one sided or witch hunt. The President should also reshuffle his information management team because as it is presently, there is a lot of disconnection. And a very strong national orientation agency will be ideal to give nationwide reorientation towards the present administration. God bless Nigeria.

What do you think are the major challenges of the administration so far?

The major challenge of the administration is lack of clear vision of what to do and not having a definite programme or agenda. Everything has been on trial and error. There is also a communication gap between the government and the people, and between the Presidency, its aids and the entire team. In fact, there a serious disconnect. At many occasions, while the President is saying one thing, his information managers will be saying something totally different. Also, the government contradicts and distracts itself a lot with too much propaganda. We believe this is the real time the government should be saying things the way they are. There should be no more lying and propaganda.  The presidential election is over. The only way to impress Nigerians now is through service delivery and not stories about the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and past regimes. If PDP had been able to put their house in order and push this government hard like a real opposition, this government would have fallen in no time. All the people want to see are promises being fulfilled by any legitimate means possible.

What are your take on N56,000 national minimum wage being demanded by labour? Do you think the federal government should accept the demand?

Well, it may seem impossible, but it is achievable. Everything depends on priority. Some state governments that take the welfare of their workers seriously do not owe them. But, those that do not care are giving flimsy excuses. If government arbitrarily increased fuel pump price, which resulted to automatic increase in princes of every other commodities, why can’t same government deem it fit to increase the salaries of its workforce? Any state government that makes its workers’ salaries priority can even pay as much N100, 000 and governance will continue. As far as we are concerned, the issue of workers’ welfare in Nigeria requires divine intervention, considering how pensioners are being maltreated by their supposed children. All the successive governments and even the present one have failed woefully in that. So, our position is that Nigerian workers’ salaries should be reviewed upwards up to 50 per cent and urgently too.

What is your take on the recent clash of the Biafra agitators with security agents in Asaba, Oitsha and some other Eastern states as well as Rivers?

We condemn in strong term the recent clash between the police and Indigenous People of Biafra (lPOB) members. The Nigerian police need to be retrained and re-oriented on how to operate in a democratic environment. The recklessness of the police during protests has resulted to death of many citizens. It is very wrong for the police to open fire on people carrying out peaceful protests or processions.

How would you explain the return of militancy in the Niger Delta with the destruction of oil pipelines and installations?

The issue of militancy in the Niger Delta is not new to us. And reasons for the recent attacks on oil pipelines and oil companies’ installations are as a result of lack of wisdom and diplomacy on the part of the government. We expected the present administration to deploy the same wisdom that late Umar Musa Yar’ Adua and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan used in curtailing the Niger Delta crisis. After all, there is not much you can achieve in the atmosphere of crisis. The simple truth is that the termination of the pipeline surveillance contracts by the present administration was provocative and uncalled for. The termination of such contracts and other incentives used by past administration to engage the Niger Delta youths and militants was the cause of the attacks. That action portrayed the government as insensitive to the plight of the Niger Deltans. The government needs to go back and initiate renegotiation and dialogue with the leaders of the groups.

Do you think military action is solution to the new development in the Niger Delta? If not, how do you think the government should resolve this crisis?

Military action will never be an option at anytime. The government needs to meet and dialogue with the leaders of the region and the leaders of various militant groups. Dialogue is just the only solution to the Niger Delta crisis, most especially when the militants are not faceless and are always ready for dialogue. The amnesty programme should be reviewed and restored. The pipelines surveillance contracts also should be reviewed and restored. The militants on their own side should be ready to embrace peace, because whichever way you view it, the Niger Delta people are the ones to lose if the crisis continues. They must learn lessons from what is going on in the North East. You cannot imagine the number of lives wasted and the number of people displaced and destabilised in that region since the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency began. So, the militant groups should and must see reasons to embrace peaceful resolution of the crisis.