Epunchng - Most read newspaper in Nigeria Wednesday November 15 2017 - Page 20

editorial 20 WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2017 LETTERS Letters meant for this page should not be more than 150 words long, and e-mailed to: punchlagos@punchng.com Such letters must contain writer’s full names (not initials) and address, and be typed double-space. Writers may no longer send letters in paper format. Avengers’ threat calls for emergency dialogue Access to potable water in Nigeria A A PPREHENSION defined public reaction to threats by the Niger Delta Avengers to resume hostilities in the oil-rich region by bombing oil installations. The Federal Government, governors and opinion leaders from the region should see this development as an emergency to be faced squarely. Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State and the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Edwin Clark, met on Saturday on how to reach out to the agitators. This proactive engagement should be broadened to include other governors from the region. The NDA is a new crop of agitators that emerged from the ruins of the old order. Their spokesman, Murdoch Agbinibo, said they would sooner than later launch “Operation Red Economy.” In a recent statement, they said, “This outing will be brutish, brutal and bloody, as we shall crush everything we meet on our path to completely cut every pipe that takes oil out from our region.” The agitators perceive the government as being hypocritical or unserious in implementing its avowed policies to reverse over six decades of exploitation of the region’s oil resources. The situation gets scarier with the declaration by the former agitators under the third phase of the Presidential Amnesty Programme that they would join the NDA unless the FG met their demand. After a meeting last week in Bayelsa State, they canvassed the direct payment of the 13 per cent revenue derivation to the oil and gas-bearing communities. The fund is a statutory monthly release to the nine oil-producing states of Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Rivers and Ondo, which gives them fiscal advantage above their peers in terms of development. Threats like these are not new. Regrettably, quite often, they yield economic devastation and avoidable blood- letting. The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Uguru Usani’s panicky response has taken him to Clark, whose PANDEF had tabled a 16-point demand to the government, soliciting his mediatory role. He has also met with his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari. As usual, he appeals for patience and restates the government’s commitment to redress the injustice that the Niger Delta question exemplifies. But Usani’s call for common sense should also go to the military, which have been mobilised to the region as Abuja’s first response. Helicopters are hovering over the skies of Gbaramatu, home town of Government Ekpemupolo – a noted ex-militant. Petrified by these aerial manoeuvres, some residents have fled their homes. They feel that a military invasion is imminent, as the last time it happened, it wreaked havoc. The Avengers’ inclination for bloodbath bodes ill for a country just exiting recession. Instructively, the nightmare is not totally over. Analysts have attributed Nigeria’s improved daily oil production, which averaged 2.01 mb/d in July, according to OPEC figures, and increased oil revenue to the rapprochement between the militants and Abuja, sealed last year. Global oil prices have steadily been heading north. Brent crude – the equivalent of Nigeria’s Bonny Light – hit $63.94 per barrel on November 8, the highest in two years. This means more money for Nigeria. Its failure to reap from this in the recent past made OPEC to excuse her and Libya from a production ceiling that binds on other oil producers. This should be maximally exploited. 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