Kuku slams EU countries over travel advice on N-Delta

… Carpets oil companies

Emma Amaize

12 October 2011, Sweetcrude, France, PARIS- SPECIAL Adviser to the President on Niger-Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, Kingsley Kuku has criticized European Union, EU, countries, particularly Britain, on the current travel advisory to their citizens on the Niger-Delta.

There is a subsisting travel advisory warning EU nationals on the state of insecurity in the Niger-Delta. Kuku described the advisory as an act of hypocrisy and governmental deceit.

Kuku, who spoke, Monday, at a conference organized by the French Institute of International Relations, IFRI, a powerful European think tank, in Paris, also said that despite the fact that they were major beneficiaries of the amnesty programme, the multinational oil companies were not doing enough on the reintegration of ex-militants.

He said that while the Presidential Amnesty Office was sending the ex-militants for training abroad for training, the oil companies, which formed a coalition to train 3,000 ex-militants at the moment was doing so locally in Warri and other parts of the country, and threatened to withdraw the boys if he found out that they were not been given proper training.

Today, in Brussels, Belgium he would formally address the European Parliament and call upon them to ask their respective governments to lift the travel advice on Niger-Delta or Niger-Delta people would find a way of lifting the ban by themselves by inviting Europeans for symposiums , workshops and seminars for peace .

Travel advice
“This is one serious orchestration by a few European countries that have particularly influenced almost the whole of Europe and I say it again, the Great Britain is a severe culprit in this. I would not let them rest until they open up their mischief. You cannot gain so much and deny the people so much. It doesn’t happen. What travel advice are we giving?

“As we are talking today, if I go with almost 200 Europeans to my creek community in the Niger Delta, you would only see creek children, the aged coming around you and wanting to touch your skin to say you are welcome. It is at that peaceful. Journalists have gone to the Niger Delta. Investors are today going to Warri, Ughelli, some have lived there till date that they now speak the local English. These are Europeans leaving in Nigeria, some are from Great Britain. They are there. Same Britain, same Europe is giving travelling advice that you are there at your own expense.

“I think the best travel advice that should be given by Europe if they are sincere to other part of the world in this regard is to simply tell their multinationals for instance Total-Elf, which is a company they have stake in, not individuals to leave the Niger Delta , and that it is not safe to explore the oil there. That is the best travel advice and we can call that multinational advice. Then, Total-Elf would now leave the Niger Delta because the Niger Delta is unsafe”, he said.

He stated, “After that, we can begin to address world peace issues. In that regard, I think it is also good for the government of Netherlands and Great Britain to wake up and say SPDC should leave the Niger Delta. Let me tell you, it is a very wild way of discreet mischief”.

“You tell your nationals, same people who are the experts working there and making the money for you. You make some much money from the bowel of that region, yet you tell your people don’t be there. Indeed, they are actually telling their people not to leave. They have told them this is what we say in the papers, but please be careful while you take the oil there. So it’s governmental deceit.

“My advice for Europe, particularly for Great Britain, is that the travel advice should be lifted for their nationals. It’s self deceit. Nothing is happening to anybody there. The oil is going off the bowel of the Niger Delta per-second, per-second like communication. So why are they deceiving people with travelling advice. They are stopping people who are genuinely coming to contribute to development of the communities”, he asserted.

The special adviser noted, “They also know that if the travel advice is lifted, it would be a matter for some genuine Europeans and every genuine people who are concerned about the environment in the Niger Delta to know that the place has been destroyed. This is because they would have all the open access to the Niger Delta and see what SPDC, Chevron and Total-Elf are doing there and see the kind of damage that has done to the environment and they know that such a thing cannot be done to their own country”.

“They know that everywhere that the world is now a single community and standards must be internationally compliant and their companies are not doing so in the Niger Delta. It is only in the Niger Delta that all the companies operating there are flaring gas and when the people are angry, you call them militants and in that sense, I call it positive militancy. You give nothing and you come to say it is JVC; that it is not the responsibility of the multinationals to development a company.

“What we are battling till today is not a matter of travel advice; it is a matter of responsibility to those you are getting so much from. So I use this median again to tell the European countries to lift the travel advice. If they are sincere with what are doing in the Niger Delta, they have to open up. Let your free citizens go there and see exactly what you are doing. It was natural water but we can drink from that water again…. There must be remediation programmes in the Niger Delta. These are the issues and these are the things they are hiding by this kind of travel advice”, he said.

Hits oil and gas operators
“I have a lot of issues with the oil and gas industry, OGI, and have I have been persuaded not to drag them into so much of international debate but I am tempted to do this again maybe for the last time. The oil and gas Industry are the greatest beneficiaries of the peace we are enjoying today in the Niger Delta. Be it SPDC, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, Agip, the Eni Group and the rest of them. They are the people benefiting, but because the amnesty itself is beneficiary to the man who accepts it and the man who gives it, everybody is benefiting, so we say, but what are we giving back?

“From 7, 000 barrels per day you are now producing 2.4 million barrel per day. I took them up in an argument, they said they were spending 2 billion dollars to 3 billion dollars for security of their pipelines in the Niger Delta, maybe for paying and maintaining security men, rehabilitating and take care of the pipelines, then we ask the question, you were spending 3billion dollars annually, amnesty had been proclaimed, so where are they spending that money. Destruction is no longer going on, production is high. Kidnapping is reduced, so where are they spending the billions of dollars?

“Are they returning the funds to the coffers of their JVC? You are still maintaining the number of security men all over your facilities. Who is destroying what? Why are they not backing in the barracks? I have been persuaded to be careful with them; I am not to get scared by them, but to persuade them to do the right thing. Imagine again, they said they are managing 3,000 persons out of a whole 26,358 ex agitators. That is too small.

“If 26,000 people had been your problem, let us imagine that because I know not all the people that have been your problem are the people we are handing now. Even for a reason, it is 26,000 and you take only 3,000, you have 23,000 people to contend with if they are angry, the oil and gas industry is handling only 3,000 people, so what makes the 3,000 people special? Why are they not holistically into this programme? We are not demanding for their money. We have told them to out their money together and each should contribute their money and look for international certified training centers in your NPV. Train the guys and absorb the one you can absorb…” he said.

He expressed disappointment at the quality of training the multinational were given the ex-militants who are enlisted with them, saying that it was awkward to engage ex-fighters in tailoring programme, same training, which he had rejected in his office.

His words, “The same things that I even reject in my office are the same thing the 3,000 people are being engaged with. This training is taking place in Port-Harcourt, Warri and Ughelli and I have told them that one day, I would surprise them. I would visit one of their centers and take the trainees away the moment I am not satisfied with the training process. I would close the training center down and take the entire trainees away. I would soon visit all the training centers…”

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