President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday said the aim of the Niger Delta militants responsible for the destruction of oil and gas installations was to ‘colonise the country economically’.
Speaking at a meeting with German Foreign Minister, Dr Frank-Walters Steinmeier at the Presidential Villa, Mr. Buhari said Germany could help curb oil theft in Nigeria through assistance in the areas of equipment, training, and sharing of intelligence with the Nigeria Navy.
“Nigeria’s oil is stolen, and taken away through the Gulf of Guinea. Adequate training and equipping of our navy will prevent this,” the president said.
He told the visitor that the security challenge in the North-East of the country was under control, with Boko Haram largely defeated, adding that “another serious form of insecurity has reared its head in the Niger Delta”.
“The objective is to colonize the country economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations. We are trying to speak with their leaders, to know how many groups there are, and we are also working with the oil companies.
“The militants engage in sophisticated sabotage, using skills they had gained from trainings either by government, or the oil companies, to vandalize installations deep in the sea. We need to understand who the real agitators are, and engage with them, so that confidence can be restored in the region,” the president added.
President Buhari said the Niger Delta situation was more complex, since the militants had no central command, and some of them were mere extortionists. But he promised that a handle would be found to the unrest soon.
In his response, Dr. Steinmeier said Germany was happy to hear of the strides taken by the Buhari-led administration against insurgents in the North-East, adding that they were equally willing to lend a helping hand in resolving the crisis in the Niger Delta.
Applauding the war against corruption, Dr. Steinmeier said it had his country’s support, adding that Germany was also interested in investing in renewable energy, gas exploration, mining, among others, to boost Nigeria’s economy.
“Germany will support development in Nigeria. We want closer cooperation on migration issues, urbanization, and supporting the navy with equipment, training and intelligence,” he said.