President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday said the aim of the Niger Delta Avengers who are attacking oil and gas installations in the region was to colonise the country economically.
According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while granting audience to Germany’s Foreign Minister, Dr. Frank-Walters Steinmeier, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
While telling his visitor that the security challenge in the North-East of the country was under control with Boko Haram largely defeated, Buhari regretted that another security challenge was ongoing in the Niger Delta.
He said, “Another serious form of insecurity has reared its head in the Niger Delta. The objective is to colonise the country economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations.
“We are trying to speak with their leaders, to know how many groups there are, and we are also working with the oil companies.
“The militants engage in sophisticated sabotage, using skills they had gained from trainings either by the government, or the oil companies, to vandalise installations deep in the sea.
“We need to understand who the real agitators are, and engage with them, so that confidence can be restored in the region.”
Buhari added, “The Niger Delta situation is more complex, since the militants have no central command, and some of them are mere extortioners.”
He however promised that a solution would be found to the unrest soon.
He also told his guest that Germany could help curb oil theft in Nigeria through assistance in the areas of equipment, training and sharing of intelligence with the Nigerian Navy.
“Nigeria’s oil is stolen, and taken away through the Gulf of Guinea. Adequate training and equipping of our Navy will prevent this,” the President said.
Steinmeier, in his response, said Germany was happy to hear of the strides taken by the Buhari administration against insurgents in the North-East, adding that the country was willing to lend a helping hand in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
Applauding the war against corruption, Steinmeier said it had his country’s support, adding that Germany was also interested in investing in renewable energy, gas exploration, mining, among others, to boost Nigeria’s economy.
“Germany will support development in Nigeria. We want closer cooperation on migration issues, urbanisation, and supporting the Navy with equipment, training and intelligence,” Steinmeier said.