July 19, 2024

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AT NDDC Summit, FG Admits Nigeria Needs Peace In N/Delta To Survive

5 min read

Edith CHUKU

The National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has said that the political and socio-economic progress of Nigeria is heavily tied to the social stability of the Niger Delta.

Ribadu stated this while presenting a paper at the Technical Session of the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC, Stakeholders Summit, in Port Harcourt.

In his paper titled: Sustainable Development Of Niger Delta: A National Security Outlook, NSA noted that, “When I was appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR to the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA), established under Section 132 of the Constitution to provide strategic advice on matters relating to National Security, three things were clear in my mind about the Niger Delta Region.They are;

“1. That the Niger Delta must be clearly captured in a more active and determined way as a National Security priority in the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR and his Renewed Hope Agenda.

“2. That within the President’s broader and long-term National Security vision, which includes moving internal security from the current strong posture from kinetic to non-kinetic operations, I will emphasize security from human and socio-economic development point of view to deepen democratic culture in the Niger Delta.

“3. n view of the above two central ideas, I am determined to set up, for the first time in the ONSA, a Directorate that shall specialize in security of the Niger Delta through which we can, as Stakeholders, take a critical look at the peculiar security challenges of the region in a focused and professional way.”

He explained that his team on Niger Delta led by his Special Adviser on Energy Security and Niger Delta Affairs, is working closely with the governors of the region and the presidency, adding that they will eventually include all stakeholders of the region such as:

“Community Leaders, Traditional Rulers, Women, Youth and Students. Government Security Agencies (GSA). Federal Government Agencies (FGA) relevant to the region. Businesses. Civil Society, Peoples Organization and Media.

“We will have very robust engagement to support the President articulate a Compressive Presidential Policy on Niger Delta Security.

“We should expect that when that fully materializes, the President will most likely personally present policy guidance that will define his security management posture for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta, under the Renewed Hope Agenda.”

In what he described as a clue into emerging policy direction, Ribadu explained that “the President recognizes that Niger Delta Region provides an estimated 75% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings. Also evident is that most of Nigeria’s Maritime domain and international coastline outside of Lagos, all of which are within the Gulf of Guinea, are in the coast of Niger Delta and this region is critical to the development of Nigeria Blue Economy.

“The political and socio-economic progress of Nigeria is therefore heavily tied to the social stability of the Niger Delta. Before 2024, 1.8 million barrel per-day production quota was allotted to Nigeria by OPEC. However, only about less than 1.4 million barrels per-day with a short-fall of 600,000 barrels per-day is produced. This is due to socio-economic issues that relate to security such as Crude Oil-theft, pipeline vandalization, environmentally harmful artisanal refining, Sea piracy and Youth militancy.

“The President is deeply concerned that the purpose of Federal Agencies, which was to respond to socio-economic issues, stabilize, and integrate the region is not proving successful if we cannot produce our allotted quota. This is why a collaborative policy and intervention framework has become necessary.

“The ONSA is consulting widely, collecting, and building a body of knowledge, information and data that will eventually help Mr. President prescribe policy, and create laws that will address in a more holistic and coordinated way. The security and conflict situation in the Niger Delta so as to enhance sustainable development.”

He further outlined the key areas of interest to include the following:

“1. Policy That Respond To Your People’s Cultural And Historical Sensibilities: Niger Delta is a region of ethnically diverse peoples. We recognize that you are republican and independent in your psychological traits. Culturally, leadership among you is symbolic and remains stable only when it reflects a high degree of social consensus. This sense of independence or autonomy and at same time interdependence reflects in the history and nature of your past and present internal and external conflict. It can be observed that such conflict is associated with strife for cultural, political, and economic autonomy or independence among your groups and institutions outside of yourselves. Therefore, the failure to understand and respond favourably in policy to your sensibilities generated a lot of insecurity. All these and more reveals your culturally formed traits, shaped your behaviour, and inform the nature of current conflict in the region that has affected our collective security as a nation. Your communities and your groups and their expressed views and desired will therefore be key to policy making for peace and social stability.

“2. Ecology and Environmental Pollution: Niger Delta is the world’s tenth largest and Africa’s largest deltaic ecosystem. It is ecologically highly diverse, complex, sensitive, and logistically challenging. Your people have braved, survived, and made their home out of this ecosystem. The oil and gas business and its negative externalities places a lot of pressure on your physical and social ecosystem and the people’s livelihood.

“This has introduced an additional layer to the nature and context for current conflict dynamics, as pollution to air, water, vegetation, and land has implication for health, livelihoods, ecosystem sustainability and future survival, with demonstrable consequence for National Security. The President hopes to make policies for sustainable development that address the implication of environmental issues to security as a central theme.

“3. Socio-economic Context To Security And Conflict: Nigeria’s centralized, top-down, rent-dependent and patronage driven political-economy, led by, and founded on oil and gas industries has tended to pressure and dislocate traditional economy and livelihoods of rural people of the Niger Delta.

“This is due to Livelihood losses from Environmental pollution. Migratory labour toward fast modernizing economy of your region, which displaces you in your traditional economy.The Constrains placed on you for access, for opportunities, and decision-making process and for effective participation in the oil and gas economy for your communities. Social tension generated by the policies centred around ownership, controlled and management of oil and gas by sub-national stakeholders particularly the communities.”

NSA added that to solve current conflict situation and transition toward a more stable, harmonious, and better nationally integrated peoples and communities of Niger Delta, will involve implementing development on collaborative partnership framework of stakeholders and supported on clearly defined, spatially well-planned Socio-Economic Intervention and Intelligence led security and policing response.

In his conclusion, Ribadu stressed that, “Sustainable peace, security and social stability of the Niger Delta Region, that increasingly move away from Kinetic engagement (Stick-model) towards non-kinetic engagement (Carrot-model), will flow from coordinating the responsibilities of relevant organs of Public-sector, Private-sector, Development-sector, civil society and media toward a clearly, articulate and better planned understanding of the nexus between security and Development.”

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