392 views | Kenechukwu Ofomah | February 25, 2021
A former Commissioner of Delta State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (DESOPADEC), Kenny Okolugbo, has said agitators under the Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF), are only asking for what is due the region and do not pose any security threat to Nigeria.
According to him, Niger Delta militants cannot be described as terrorists.
In a video which surfaced on the internet on Wednesday, a group of militants under the name the Supreme Egbesu Liberation Fighters, had threatened to attack oil facilities in Lagos and Abuja, if the federal government does not harken to their demands.
There have also been calls from various quarters, for the Federal Government to brand all forms of extreme criminality as terrorism.
But in a chat with TNC correspondent on Thursday, Okolugbo thinks the recent threat is doubtful.
It is his belief that PANDEF-driven militants would not target oil facilities in Lagos and Abuja to prove a point.
“Watching that video, I doubt if they were actually speaking on behalf of the Egbesu people. You don’t attack Lagos and Abuja. Most of the militants in a bid to make their voices heard, have attacked oil installations in the Niger-Delta and not the said places. But including Lagos and Abuja now, is because of how the Federal Government has handled the issue of Fulani killer herdsmen with kid gloves. But I doubt whether attacking such facilities in Lagos and Abuja is part of what the Egbesu Liberation Front is talking about,” Okolugbo maintained.
He said if the Federal Government has refused to label all the killer herdsmen terrorists, then it lacks the moral justification to brand Niger-Delta militants as terrorists.
“The agitation is because the 13 percent derivation, even though it is being paid, it is highly insufficient to take care of the devastation and degradation that is experienced in the Niger-Delta due to oil explorations. Furthermore, we see how the Federal Government has allowed some states in the North to mine their natural resources. Even though the Zamfara Governor would claim that they are not making direct money from the gold bars but we saw him presenting gold bars to Mr President, meaning that they can easily mine the resourse,” he claimed.
While establishing that Niger Delta Governors had questions to answer, Okolugbo berated the establishment of a sole administrator for the Niger Delta Development Commission, instead of a Board.
“We have the Northeast Development Commission being run by a Board. Why will the Niger-Delta Development Commission by run by a sole authority, with all the allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds that have gone on. Why we have a Board is to put decisions to checks and balances. The Federal Government cannot run the NDDC like a one-man company, leaving it to the whims and caprices of Senator Godswill Akpabio. These are the things that are bringing up more agitations. On the other hand, the Niger-Delta Governors have not been fair to us. They could have done a lot better, checking what’s going on in the NDDC. So, somehow, the Niger-Delta has been quite responsible for its crises,” he emphasized.
Okolugbo concluded that violence be eschewed and room given for negotiations.