Militancy in the Niger-Delta is spreading like wild fire across most of the oil producing areas in the region. Presently, the media has lost count of the number of militant groups that have threatened to attack oil installations and it’s obvious that more groups are coming up to draw attention to their plight and make their demands known.
An exagitator and former Commander of Zion Gurrab, a Camp under the Niger-Delta Actualisation Force, General Emma Shobor, has tasked the Federal Government to quickly address the demands made by two militant groups that recently threatened to bomb the Utorogun Gas Plan, Africa’s largest gas plant.
He disclosed in an interview that bombing of oil installations have not spread to Urhoboland and other upland oil bearing communities because of the effort made by him and like minds who have been appealing to the youths to maintain the peace even as they continue to engage government to attend to their demands.
General Shobor, who, since he embraced the Federal Government’s amnesty, has been running the Initiative for the Actualisation of Peace and Development, a non-governmental organization, warned that his group would not guarantee the security of the oil and gas assets in Urhobo Kingdom if government fails to attend to the demands of the militants.
He said, “We have ensured that the uplands remain peaceful, though the boys have threatened to commence bombing because of the marginalisation of the host communities by the oil and gas companies and even the government. It is therefore left to the government to return that good gesture by addressing the issues they raised.”
It will be recalled that the two militant groups that called themselves, Utorogun Liberation Movement and Niger-Delta Black Emancipation Force, had in their separate statements, threatened that they will blow up the Otorogun Gas Plant and other oil and gas facilities in the Urhobo Kingdom, unless the Federal Government attends to their demands.
Though the June 25 ultimatum given to the government by the Utorogun Liberation Movement has elapsed without any incident, General Shobor said he believes that it was due to his interface with the youths and the Urhobo youths meeting called by the Delta State Government that might be responsible for the peace the upland oil producing communities are still enjoying now.
Meanwhile, the Niger-Delta Black Emancipation Force which their threat was only reported by an online news medium, did not give any date when it will attack if government fails to attend to their needs.
The two groups, unlike the Niger-Delta Avengers, made no mention of sovereignty or release of Radio Biafra Director, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, in their statements. But demanded the immediate completion of the Delta Steel Complex, the two service companies at the gas plant (Lee Engineering and Marcon Technical Services Limited), which, according to them, have failed to cater for the host community, to be disengaged immediately and new ones, which will be amenable to the needs of the host communities should be engaged.
Also, they want the Federal Government to extend the Ogoniland cleanup to the entire Niger-Delta region, as well as complete the Ajaokuta-Aladja Standard Gauge Rail line and also provide jobs for the youths.
General Shobor said, “Immediately the militants issued the threat, we swung into action to ensure that such a thing does not take place in the upland. By the special grace of God, nothing like pipeline bombing has taken place in the upland since then.
“I will advise that the Federal Government and the Delta State Government to come up with a blueprint to avert the impending attack on oil facilities in the area.
“If government does not come quickly to attend to the demands of these youths, we will not be able to guarantee the safety of the facilities and the people living in the area will continue to feel unsafe,” he said.
Meanwhile, General Shobor has lamented what he described as the marginalisation of the upland oil communities by the Federal Government and the oil companies, saying even on the amnesty programmes, the ex-agitator leaders from the upland were treated like outcast, while most of their fighters have either not been trained at all or were given poor training without adequate empowerment.
He, therefore, called for a drastic review of the amnesty programme with the view to ensuring that it suceeds at what it set out to achieve.
He said that the Urhoboland, which hosts Africa’s biggest gas plant, a lot more oil assets, is neglected with no infrastructural facility, good water, electricity and human capital.
It is against this backdrop that he said that the threat of the youths is not out of place as it seems to be the only way to attract government attention, warning further that the threat should not be taken as a joke.