The nation may witness a renewed wave of militant activity if President Muhammadu Buhari wins his reelection bid in Saturday’s presidential election, as militants under the aegis of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have threatened to stop the flow of crude oil in the Niger Delta.
The NDA, in a statement on Thursday, decried what it described as the “continuous criminal exploitation and exploration of our natural resources that engender the underdevelopment of the Niger Delta.”
It will be recalled that the Avengers had in 2016 carried out coordinated attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta, causing oil production to plummet to near 30-year lows of around 1.6 million barrels per day.
The militants were behind a wave of oil production disruption that helped push the country into its first recession in 25 years.
A ceasefire reached in August 2016 helped pull the country out of recession in the second quarter of 2017.
The group, also in the statement, said it had adopted the candidacy of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“We are adopting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as the sole candidate to be voted for by all the people of the Niger Delta as a result of his political ideology, which is in tandem with our agitation for equitable and fair principles of federalism,” it said.
The NDA, in a statement posted on its website, warned that if Buhari was re-elected, there would be “a perpetual recession for Nigeria.”
The NDA said: “The High Command of the Niger Delta Avengers is convinced that when elected, the government of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will not only restructure Nigeria but will reverse the inimical ownership rights to natural resources…”
The militants also insisted that if elected, Atiku should start a “restructuring of Nigeria” within six months to forestall further agitation from the Niger Delta, warning that members of the international community, multinational corporations and their subsidiaries to withdraw their workforce and services from the Niger Delta within the period of the elections in order “not to be casualties to the ongoing provocation in the Niger Delta by the Nigerian Military.”
Bloomberg had reported on Thursday that heavily armed Nigerian troops crouched behind sandbags outside Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Kolo Creek pumping station, underscoring the tension pervading the region before general elections on Saturday.
“We are in charge of the struggle now and our strike teams are active and gallantly waiting to receive instructions from the High Command to cripple the Nigerian economy again if Buhari is rigged back to office; and this time it will be a perpetual recession for Nigeria as we shall not relent until oil stops to flow in the pipes that brace our feet in our land,” the NDA said.
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