Buhari warns Niger Delta Avengers, Negotiate now or…

Chidi Samuel

The widow for a peaceful end to the crisis appear to be narrowing following Pesident Muhammadu Buhari’s call on militants wrecking havoc on major oil installations  in the Niger Delta to enter into dialogue with his government or risk being dealt with the same way the military is handling the Boko Haram terror group. This will according to him, be in line with government’s primary responsibility of securing life and property of its citizenry to enable economic activities thrive. The threat is coming a day after the military commenced a military operation in the region code named ‘ Excercise Crocodile Smile’.  President Buhari made this known on Saturday evening at a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the sidelines of the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Nairobi, Kenya.

This was contained in a statement on Sunday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

The President informed his  Japanese counterpart that with the defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists by the military, the next challenge facing his administration is stopping the destruction of the country’s economic assets by militants in the Niger Delta region.

He outlined several steps being taken by his administration to secure the country and ease doing business in Nigeria.

President Buhari said, “We are talking to some of their (Niger Delta militants’) leaders. We will deal with them as we dealt with Boko Haram if they refuse to talk to us.

“As a government, we know our responsibility, which is to secure the environment. It is clear to us that lenders won’t fund projects in insecure environments.

“We realise that we have to secure the country before we can efficiently manage it.” The President also informed Mr Abe that security in the Gulf of Guinea, which is greatly affected by piracy and armed robbery at sea, was a priority for the Nigerian government.

“We have provided funds to our Navy to buy new platforms, train and effectively organise the personnel to protect the area. We are looking forward to support from developed nations for satellite surveillance covering the Gulf,”the President said.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Abe congratulated President Buhari “for courageously tackling Boko Haram terrorism.”

He said Nigeria and Japan must work together to improve the investment climate in view of the many Japanese companies wishing to invest in Nigeria.

He reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to rapid development in Nigeria through quality delivery of ongoing projects in the country, including Jebba hydro power scheme and the Lagos railway project.