18 January 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Barely 24 hours after the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo had rounded off a meeting with Niger Delta leaders and other stakeholders as part of his ‘Peace Tour’ of the region, a militant group has blown up a crude oil trunkline in Ughelli, Delta state.
So far, reports show that the attack was carried out by an “unidentified militant group”. Recall that some militant groups operating in the Niger Delta, including the Niger Delta Avengers and the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders, have publicly rejected the offer for a truce with the Federal Government.
No militant group has claimed responsibility for this latest attack on an oil installation.
Osinbajo had on Monday led a federal government delegation to the region to kick-start the process of peace and stability.
During the trip, the vice president had met with traditional rulers and key stakeholders, where he made a plea for peace, even as he assured communities in the region of plans by the government to treat the zone as a “special development zone.”
Speaking on Monday in Osceola, Gbaramatu Kingdom, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, where he flagged off the peace tour of the Niger Delta, the Vice President appealed to the stakeholders of the region to embrace peace, explaining that this was why President Muhammadu Buhari sent him to the Niger Delta.
He said, “Our future is the future of progress and development. Unfortunately, there is no time because the future is already here.
“Fellow citizens, to ensure that the future is not worse than it is today and to prepare for a great and promising future for the Gbaramatu Kingdom and the Delta as a whole, three things must happen.
“Firstly, we must recognise the unique environment and terrain challenges of the Niger Delta. We must also recognise that the Niger Delta is a special place and special economic zone, then we must treat it as a special development zone.”
Osinbajo added that “Long ago in the Willinks Commission, it has been acknowledged that because of the peculiar environment and terrain of the Niger Delta and the profound challenges it poses for development, it should be treated as a special development zone.
“And I agree in entirety that this zone ought to be treated as a special development zone. What does this mean in practical terms? It means that the federal government, state government, national assembly representatives from this region alongside the NDDC and the civil society representatives of the Niger delta people must sit together and develop a plan for rapid development.”
According to him, “The federal government alone cannot solve the problems of the Niger Delta. It is impossible for the federal government alone. We must sit down with the state governments and the representatives to actualise the promises we made to the people. The state must be prepared to devote a substantial part of their budget to this special programme.”