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Buhari’s war against insurgencyand WAI

by April 1, 2016 General

Sonny Atumah

As military Head of Statefrom 1984 to 1985, President Muhammadu Buhari came to power at a time the economy was in tatters even as some second republic politicians alleged Nigerians were yet to eat from the refuse bins.He introduced the War against Indiscipline (WAI) to force Nigerians exhibit correctethical conduct. WAI gained popularity especially the queue culture that took root in Nigerians even after his ouster from office by his comrades-in- arms.

His administration then was criticisedfor human rights abuses regarding freedom, justice and equality. The President during sideline meetings with groups in the course of 2015 presidential campaign explained why some politicians were presumed guilty until proven innocentin his 20-monthmilitary regime.

Last year President Buhari came to power in the circumstances similar to 1984. There was the Boko Haram insurgency, oil glut, looting of public funds, crude oil thefts, subsidy scams, and pipeline vandalism and lingering fuel crises.These implosions are results of poor management over the years and financial insolvency that 27 states of the federation could not pay salaries.

The effects on the Nigerian economy occupied my subconscious on Easter Monday morning while at the AIT studio ante-room waiting for a scheduled Kakaaki live interview on the lingering fuel crises. While waitingRev. Father George Ehusani, a catholic priest, and the Director of the Lux Terra Leadership Foundationwas on set explaining Jesus Christ’s passion, death, resurrection, and Christianity.I picked his use of economic insurgents in response to a question.

Indeed I saw Buhari’sWAI of 30 years ago replicated in the current war against insurgency in Nigeria. An insurgent is someone who rebels against authority or leadership especially somebody who belongs to a group that is involved in an uprising.  One equates economic insurgents who have mismanaged Nigeria’s energy infrastructures with Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast.

Infrastructures are large scale public systems, services and facilities of a country that are necessary for economic activity.Energy infrastructure is the link between energy production and energy consumption.Since 1956 when Shell d’Arcy struck oil in the sleepy hamlet of Oloibiri in the present day Bayelsa State, Nigeria has acquired considerable, relevant and strategic energy infrastructures in the Niger Delta and across the country.

With about 159 oilfields and 1481 oil wells in operation in Nigeria we have onshore and offshore oil platforms and rigs, pipelines, refineries, and other process plants, storage facilities, tankers, super tankersand ancillaries.These infrastructures made it possible for Nigeria to generate export revenue to the tune of about 95 percent since the early 1970s.

Nigeria benefitted immensely from the energy infrastructures but have they been used to the greatest benefit for the greatest number?This is where the issue of economic insurgents’and theirpredatory activitieshascalamitous effect on Nigerians.

Niger Delta agitatorsalso took advantage of them to unleash terror through kidnapping of oil company workers, pirate activities on our coastal waters and attacks on petroleum pipelines which are critical infrastructures. They employed covert operations against the state via vandalism of oil pipeline and illegal bunkering.

It got to a head that oil production dropped to about 700,000 barrels down from about 2.5 million barrels per day in 2008.  Theannual revenue accruing to government dropped to about $42.2 billionby 2009.Presidential amnesty was granted agitators that took up arms against the state to boost Nigeria’s revenue base.

This piece is not to encourage rebellion of any sort that is condemnable an acceptable norm. It is to underscore the point that economic insurgents equate criminal elements in whatever guise who have taken up arms against the state. This clientage of aristocrats or economic insurgents hasput the country in a cliffhanger. This dull and characterless group arrogated the commonwealth to them; mismanagedand embezzled funds and made the illegal actsof converting public funds into private use appear legal. Chatham House in the UK revealed that Nigeria loses about $8 billion yearly from Oil theft.

But to what extent can President Buhari go in his war against economic insurgents who have stashed about $150 billion in world financial hubs of London, New York, Singapore, as well as Cayman Islands, Cairo and Dubai?Repatriating stolen crude oil money stashed away in these hubs could be the fulcrum for Nigeria’s social-economic development.

Cardinally he made insecurity, corruption and employment his campaign tools to battle.Our irrepressible President is encouraged to use the WAI against economic insurgents to enable him provide good governance.It is learnt that some highly placed former government officials that have been investigated for financial crimes could not access their accounts using their credit cards in the Middle East.

We hope the President could have planned development programmes for communities hosting critical energy infrastructures. Oloibiri for instance is still like a settlement existing as a museum for oil relics. Oil communities hosting energy infrastructures live in abject poverty and squalor alongside opulent and affluent oil companies’ settlements.

Ad-hoc development strategies that do not really trickle to the down trodden should be avoided.He should meet the yearnings and aspirations of these peoplewho for about six decades cried against injustice meted by companies that ravaged their natural habitat.

As we are on the verge of dislodging Boko Haram, as well as exploring and producing petroleum from the Lake Chad Basin let us not make the mistake of the Niger Delta where upsurge in unauthorized quasi-military groups using weapons, arms and ammunitions are giving our defence forces and security services extra duty in the creeks.

We are happy the recent shuttles to the Middle East North Africa (MENA) countries have started yielding results. The recent visit of the President to Equatorial Guinea is a step in the right direction to stem the tide of criminalities in the Gulf of Guinea. These would reduce if not eliminate economic insurgency.