Are the Niger Delta militants posing a threat to the incoming administration of the former Head of State and president-elect, Major General Muhammadu Buhari as they did to current and past regimes?
This question has become relevant because, barely four days after Buhari was declared winner of the Presidential election, beating incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, suspected militants have blown up a major high pressure gas pipeline at Ighwrenene Community in Delta State, warning the President-elect that he may have his hands full in containing the economic sabotage.
The incident allegedly occurred around 2:30 am yesterday.
The economic sabotage was coming about one week after some former leaders of the Niger Delta militants threatened to return to the creeks and resume their war against the Nigerian state in response to General Buhari’s election victory over Jonathan. But Jonathan’s quick congratulatory message to Buhari even before INEC, the electoral body, officially declared him winner doused tension in the land and forced some of them to retract their words. However, yesterday’s incident made the situation hazy.
Also, a group of Urhobo youths under the aegis of Urhobo Gbagbako yesterday claimed responsibility for the March 22, bombings of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, oil pipe lines in Ekiugbo, Ughelli Local Government Area “on a massive scale.” It said that the aim was to give vent to their demand for pipe line surveillance contracts.
Nigeria is almost a one-product economy with oil contributing to about 90 percent of her wealth.
Late former President, Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua had to grant amnesty to the Niger Delta militants who fought from the creeks to drive home their demand for derivation and resource control in the country. The Federal Government also approved 13 percent derivation as well as other programmes aimed at cushioning the effects of degradation occasioned by oil exploration for the oil producing states.
However, as at 10am yesterday when Vanguard visited Ighwrenene Community, an official of the NPDC accompanied by two mobile policemen were at the scene making frantic calls on how to extinguish the inferno which was ravaging the area.
Another official attached to the Pipeline Surveillance Unit, PSU, in the area who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the affected pipeline was a trunk line which convey the product from Eriemu, Kokori, Afiesere, Uzere, West-End at Kwale, Ogini, Olomoro and Owhe to the Ughelli Quality Control Center, UQCC.
Attempts by fire fighters from the NPDC, SPDC and the Delta State Fire Service departments to extinguish the fire had not been successful even as one of their trucks got stuck along the road to the scene of the explosion making access to the spot almost impossible.