A former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Umar (retd), has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to jettison any plan he has to deploy military force against militants in the Niger Delta.
He gave the advice on the backdrop of President Buhari’s recent vow to deal with the militants as he did to Boko Haram if they failed to accept his government’s offer of dialogue and desist from bombing oil facilities in the region.
The retired colonel, however, warned that the use of military force in an attempt to resolve the Niger Delta crisis, was not a good option and must be discarded.
According to Mr. Umar, it would be difficult for armed conflict to secure oil and gas assets in the region, stressing that it would rather aid destructive activities of the militants and lead to total shut down of all oil and gas operations in the area.
He also said Niger Delta militants could not be said to be terrorists in the real sense of the word, adding that they are amenable to meaningful dialogue.
In a statement he issued yesterday in Kaduna, Umar expressed concern over what he termed the “sudden escalation” of skirmishes between security operatives and militants in the Niger Delta region.
The statement reads in part: “This is happening after the president was quoted as vowing to deal with the militants as he did to Boko Haram.
“All factors considered, the use of military force in an attempt to resolve the lingering crisis is not a good option and must, therefore, be discarded.
“As a retired general, Mr. President is aware of the serious and daunting challenges any military will face in its operations in the most difficult and densely populated Niger Delta region. The creeks are so heavily polluted with oil, rendering the area highly inflammable. It will take the firing of a few high explosive shells to set the whole area on fire, resulting in the inestimable collateral damage among innocent civilians.
“It is also difficult to see how an armed conflict can secure our oil and gas assets in the region. Instead, it will aid the destructive activities of the militants and lead to the total shut down of all oil and gas operations in the area.
“Besides, Niger Delta militants cannot be said to be terrorists in the real sense of the word. I believe they are amenable to meaningful dialogue.
“I need not to remind the president that a war in the Niger Delta will be viewed and opposed by most objective Nigerians and the international community as unjust and merely aimed at the control and exploitation of the region’s oil and gas resources.
“I, therefore, beseech you Mr. President in the name of all that is good to continue to explore peaceful means of resolving the Niger Delta crisis as painful as you may find this. May God direct and guide you on the path of justice”.