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Facts, truths, politics of Ibaji Oil

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By Abel Ada-Musa

The recognition of Kogi State as an oil producing state on a 50-50 basis with Anambra State is a watershed – a milestone, in the history of Nigeria. It makes Kogi State the first oil producing state in the Middle Belt and in the northern part of Nigeria.Personally, I still feel we have been deprived, because the bigger flow of the oil is in Kogi State.

On the other hand, we also need to thank God, because as a state we didn’t play the politics very well. Anambra was more involved than Kogi State. It invested in the struggle to get national attention on all fronts, but I didn’t see Kogi State seriously involved in the agitation, except during the administrations of Prince Abubakar Audu and Captain Idris Wada, respectively.

As we soldiered on in the struggle, Kogi’s voice was nearly drowned at the presidency and the National Assembly. Even the method which the National Boundary Commission (NBC) wanted to employ in delineating the boundary was not favourable to Kogi State, which led to a stalemate.

I use this opportunity to pay tribute to the heroes of Odeke oil struggle, which include the people of Odeke, who lost their lives and got injured while fighting for their land. Several lives were lost on the farms and fishing ponds in Odeke, Ibaji Local Government, where the oil deposit was discovered.

Before the politics of oil wells took the front burner, Odeke and Aguleri in Anambra were good neighbours, who had intermarried and attended social activities freely together on either side. One could hardly differentiate between them, because of the level they interacted socially. They shared markets, farmland and fish ponds.

Those that are claiming credit, celebrating and trumpeting the recognition of the state as oil producing state today did not play any recognizable role in the new limelight. For example, Governor Yahaya Bello as a sitting governor that received the cheery news, and presiding over the celebration, knew little about the journey that brought us to the present level.

However, kudos to critical stakeholders and several Ibaji Local Government chairmen, former governor, late Prince Abubakar Audu, former governor Idris Wada and Senator Isaac Alfa, who worked tirelessly to ensure that Anambra State did not take away what belongs to the state. Some of the key figures in Ibaji that played significant roles in the long-drawn battle were Hon Emmanuel Egwuaba, Engr Dan Omatola, Hon Dav Ogwu, Barr Reuben Egwuaba, Hon Damian Etiukwu, Hon. Abraham Uchola, Chief Abu Bendo, Barr Thomas Acholo, Hon Felix Amajeh, among others. The list is inexhaustible.

We have been made to understand that oil has ever been in Odeke and environs. We have been told that exploration of the oil actually started in 1952, in Ibaji villages like, Ihile, Odeke, Ikah, Ujeh, Echeno, Anocha/Uchuchu, Omabo and Iregwu. That time, oil wells were not yet an issue, because 13 percent derivation, which gives oil producing states financial edge, in monthly allocations had not taken effect.

I think the major problem started when the federal government started paying 13 percent derivation to oil producing states from the federation account. The oil producing states are like kings during the monthly sharing of national booty. Kogi will soon join the league of such states, when full exploration of Odeke Oil begins.

Let the truth be told; Anambra state was smarter than Kogi State. Kogi State displayed non-committal attitude for too long in the matter. By the time the state government started showing genuine interest; Anambra state had made practical commitments in the disputed area. At least, so it claimed. It claimed that it had spent about N4 billion in developing the area. How? This cannot be verified!

Odds were in fact against Kogi state from the beginning. Odeke was under Anambra basin. This gave them the wrong conception that the place belonged to Anambra state. All explorations in geological terms, in that area were done under the Anambra basin. So, it was easy for them to erroneously claim that the portion belonged to them.

It was said that between 1952 and 1986, three companies namely; Shell BP (now SPDC), Elf (now Total Fina Elf) and AGIP Energy drilled 25 exploration wells, 2 appraisal wells and 8-core drill wells in the entire Basin, out of which majority of the wells were in the present day Kogi State”.

“The NNPC/NPDC which carried out seismic activities in the Anambra Basin in which Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi East was largely involved between 1976 and 1983, affirmed that “oil and gas was found to be in commercial quantity in Kogi State.”

Records have also shown that during the exploration activities, compensations were paid to the people of Odeke, Ikah, Anocha, Echeno, Ihile, Ujeh, Omabo and Iregwu all in Ibaji Local Government Area of Kogi State respectively, for damages caused on their farmlands, economic trees, fishing ponds and even shrines buttressing the claim of ownership of the land.

Throughout the fight for the ownership of the oil wells, Kogi State actually looked like an underdog. In 2001, the then governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu showed up on the scene. When the exploration that was going on was stopped, he wrote to the Group Managing Director of NNPC to remind him of the need to continue, stressing that there was oil in commercial quantity in Odeke, Echeno and Anocha. Shortly after his letter, exploration resumed, on 25th July 2001.

Serious commitment was also made by the administration of Captain Idris Wada, who hoped that the status of oil producing state could be achieved in his time, in office.

Sequel to Prince Audu’s letter, a team of geo-scientist/engineers was drafted to Ibaji to carry out a preliminary investigation on the claims of Kogi State Government. The investigation paid off as an indigenous Orient Petroleum Resources was granted an Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 915 and 916, in 2012. The percentages of crude oil in the OPL 915 among the three contesting states are as follows; Kogi State- 53%, Anambra- 23%, Enugu- 17% and Edo-3%.

The management team of the oil exploration company that was involved in the activity of exploration in the area is from Anambra state, and this has led to the erroneous belief that the oil belongs to Anambra State.

What added insult to injury was the declaration of Anambra state as oil producing area by President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2012, when the dispute was yet to be resolved. Jonathan had, on August 30 2012, while inaugurating Orient Petroleum’s Anambra River Production Facility in Aguleri, declared Anambra State the 10th oil bearing state in the country.

However, on 6 December 2012, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the National Boundary Commission (NBC) to determine, within six months, who between Kogi and Anambra states should be considered an oil producing state. The NBC failed to do this. Unfortunately, NBC hardly resolves boundary crises. It compounds them.

Part of the crisis was the claim that Anambra State invested N4 billion into the exploration of Ibaji oil. But the true position is that the investment was by Orient Petroleum, a private company in Anambra State, not the state government.

A major drawback to the crisis was the involvement of National Boundary Commission (NBC), which could not determine the method for measuring the ownership of the land. Kogi State government totally faulted the yardstick the NBC was going to use in delimiting the land; which led to stalemate.

The decision to make it 50-50 for Kogi and Anambra is quite unfair, because 53 percent of the oil wells are on Kogi land. It is because of the inability of the NBC to resolve the dispute that the federal government in its wisdom had to share the oil ownership into two equal halfs.

The National Boundary Commission (NBC) had insisted that they would use the legal instrument of 1954 as the instrument by which they would delimit the boundary between Kogi and Anambra state. The 1954 legal framework as proposed by NBC did not favour Kogi State. Kogi state had argued for “ground-to-paper instrument” as the best approach, which embodied ethnographic survey. By this method you interview the indigenous people of the area, whereby they will be called upon to point out both the natural and physical features of the boundary lines between them.

Half bread, they say, is better than none. The percent given to Kogi State is unfair. The right thing to do was to give Kogi State 75 percent and Anambra state 25 percent. This is arguably a product of low level politics in the state. Our presence is minimal at the national level. We don’t have people that can speak for us. We can only fight one another at home.

Politics of deception, ethnic bigotry and pull-him-down syndrome has killed the state. Our National Assembly members are like mummies and zombies. Yesterday, I read that some of them from the state went to EFCC office to tell them that Governor Yahaya Bello was innocent of the allegation of diversion of money leveled against him.

What a shame!

Are they not aware that the case is already in Court? Don’t they know that it is beyond their limits? It’s sheer display of illiteracy, naivety, sycophancy, and foolishness for so called Honourable members of National Assembly to push a case that is not ordinarily on their table to legislate or adjudicate.

And that is why we are where we are!

Abel Ada-Musa, a Public Affairs analyst writes from Kogi State.

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Opinion

An Appeal to FG to Fix Okun Road-Trunk A-13

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By Tony Fagbemi

In 1975 the Ilorin –Egbe-Kabba-Lokoja road was awarded to foreign contractor-Dumez.
That was the only Federal road Trunk A13 that runs from Ilorin through Egbe, Kabba to Lokoja to form the Interstate road. Today, this highway has become a disaster, and now qualifies to be filmed in the world’s most dangerously abandoned and decrepit road. It is shameful to say that there is agovernment in ‘Modern day’ Nigeria that is responsible for the
infrastructural development 61 years after independence. One now begins to wonder whether we practice democracy or
kleptocracy. This is one question the caliber of people that are currently in office since
2015 needs to provide the answer. Seeing the rot and decay all around, one will
assume that despite all the borrowing from the World Bank, some of it would have been used to fix our roads to world’s standard that is comparable to the Western World. All anyone can see are loquacious Senators, Reps and Governors canvassing for the next
election without commissioning any social projects since 2015. So none of the borrowed money was used for any infrastructural development in Okunland? What is going on? We pay our taxes like
others; yet nothing of federal presence except this broken-down road. This writer wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari ln 2015, to embark on massive road construction as a way of combating massive unemployment problem. When Mr. Babatunde Fashola
was appointed as Federal Minister of works, the writer was highly elated because of his successful accomplishments in Lagos as the
Governor. He was expecting him to be different from other Federal
ministers of works since 1999. He was expecting improvement on massive road network transformation of international standard.
Particularly the interstate Trunk A-13, from Ilorin – Egbe-Kabba-Lokoja that still remains as it was since 1975. That road is the only Federal land mark in Okunland that makes it all important. It is
pathetic to know that as educated as the Okuns are, there is no Federal, State institutions or investments in Okunland.
The Trunk A-13 road has some more serious implications for the Nigerian government as a major highway to Abuja.
There is international project going on at Egbe Hospital, which requires shipment of heavy freights to be moved from the United States to Egbe. These include heavy laboratory equipment, tractors, containers and personnel staff. These form the back bone of the Revitalization Project that is currently going on at the hospital in Egbe. That involves personnel all over the world but particularly from the United States. They include teams of Doctors, Engineers, Missionaries, Visitors and medical students. Egbe Hospital was rated as one of the best in Nigeria in the 60s. It helped in the delivery of the now late Prophet T.B. Joshua as a baby in 1963, after spending 15 months in her mother’s womb (as documented in his memoire). There is a conscious attempt to maintain and bring back the old glory;
and make it an American standard hospital in Nigeria. If you are curious about the revitalization you can check their website Egbe Hospital Revitalization. There are other projects in Egbe, Isanlu, Jege and other parts of Okunland that are been supported from the USA. As it is right
now, the Americans, God bless them, have supplied the equipment, the personnel that will install and provide training, all at their own expense to serve Nigerians. As one would expect that 61 years after
independence, Nigeria, the giant of Africa should be able to construct and maintain a basic road network of high standard all
across the country. There was enough revenue from oil and other resources that should build strong infrastructure for the country particularly after 61 years.

Trunk A-13 should have been dualized long time ago because of heavy traffic but it remains an eyesore and embarrassment to Nigeria and Nigerians both home
and abroad. As I write, the road is virtually closed to traffic because of a complete dilapidation and wreckage to the extent that road users had to abandon their vehicles t hat were stuck in the mud.
Passengers have to abandon their vehicle to avoid making themselves sitting ducks for the kidnappers. They have temporarily abandoned the road. And yet this is an oil rich nation!
The lack of good road network to Egbe is calling for the development of the Airstrip that was built in 1978, and once used by General Olusegun Obasanjo for the
national farewell tour to Egbe during his final days in office as Head of State, into an Airport. The call for development of the airstrip into an Airport is ginning currency which is now undertaken by another foreign
agency. This has become necessary because of the expatriate travelers from US that are billed to visit Nigeria soon. All attempts should be made to shield the Expatriates and missionaries from kidnappers or any danger; God forbids.
Those coming through Lagos or Abuja to Egbe have been advised against using the road. People have been warned against using the road because of its bad condition that is fast turning the area into Kidnappers’ den.

Little wonder the Governor and other VIPs have abandoned the road to Egbe. Egbe is really an important, critical town in Okunland; it is a junction town and a border town to Kwara, Ekiti and to some extent Niger states.
Truck A-13 provides the only link to the outside world for the Okuns. This is the only highway that runs through the underbelly of the Okun people. Highway infrastructure is so important to development of the nation’s economy. A massive investment into roads construction is a panacea to the nation’s unemployment and its concomitant problems.
Such problem as kidnapping, robberies, joblessness will be reduced because many of them will be absorbed into massive construction scheme. Money will be
in circulation as workers get paid bi-weekly. There will be more ripple economic activities in the housing, transportation, and food sectors in the area.

To be continued……

●Dr Tony Fagbemi writes from USA

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Opinion

The 2019 elections and the desecration of Okunland

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By Tunde Olusunle

For those who know a thing or two about the history and evolution of the Okun homeland, never has the area been as weaponized and as violent as the experience of the 2019 general elections. The Okun country, by the way, is the Okun-Yoruba speaking stretch of Kogi State. To refresh our minds about this part of the sprawling and luminous landscape called Nigeria, Okunland is the southernmost extremes of the Yoruba country, on the nation’s geophysical map. It is abutted to the north west by the Igbomina-speaking part of Kwara State; to the west by Ekiti and to its south west by Ondo State. Okunland traverses six of the 21 local government areas in Kogi State, namely: Yagba West, Yagba East, Mopamuro, Ijumu, Kabba-Bunu and Lokoja. In what is a definite geophysical aberration, Okunland is delineated within the North Central zone of Nigeria.

Because the area is wholly subsumed geoculturally and ethno-linguistically in the expansive Yoruba sub-country, its sophistry as one of the most educated sub-nationalities in Nigeria, is most often understated. Yet, unarguably, Okunland whose people provided the bureaucratic, even technocratic backbone of the erstwhile omnibus Northern Nigeria administration, is one of the most literate ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyis, Silas Bamidele Daniyans, Ade Johns, Moody Olorunmonus, Emmanuel Otitojus, Michael Asajus, Raphael Ibitomis, and so on, who served meritoriously in various capacities in the evolutionary course of Nigeria are all well documented.

The professorial and doctorate degree indices of Okunland per square kilometre, run neck to neck with that of its Ekiti kith, to its geographical west. My good friend, Yemi Akinwumi, Vice Chancellor of the Federal University Lokoja (FUL), discussed with me a few years back, the need for us to document the human resource profile of Okunland, so as to perspectivise the contributions of scholars and professionals from that critical core of Nigeria, to nation building. Statistics available to us as at that time, put the number of professors of Okun extraction, at over 200. Former Health Minister, Professor Eyitayo Lambo, many years ago aggregated about two dozen professors from Isanlu, his birthplace at that time, one of the several communities in Okunland.

While not pre-empting the proposed publication highlighted above, “charity might as well begin from home,” the media (scholars and practitioners), which is the forte of this writer, where Okunland has contributed some of the very best professionals, to the vocation, in the course of state building and service to nation. Household names like Olatunji Dare, Ayo Olukotun, Peter Olowo, Jimmy Atte, Dapo Olorunyomi, Eniola Bello, Tunde Ipinmisho, Ishaq Ajibola, Segun Ayobolu, Simon Kolawole, Vicky Olumudi, Moji Makanjuola and Lara Owoeye-Wise, are distinguished Okun sons and daughters in the media. Gbemiga Ogunleye, Tunde Asaju, Babajide Otitoju, Kola Ologbondiyan, Austin Elewodalu, Sanya Oni, Ola Ampitan, Vincent Akanmode, Toyin Ibitoye, Ronke Bello, Dayo Asaju, Dayo Thomas, Adeleke Adeseri, Ayokanmi Osinlu, Duro Meseko, Richard Elesho, Ralph Omololu-Agbana, among others, are also media bright lights from Okunland.

The Okun-Yoruba country is also the home of seasoned intellectuals like Adeoye Adeniyi, Ade Mobain Obayemi, Felix Anjorin, Pius Adesanmi, Idowu Ajibero, Bade Onimode, Olu Obafemi, Albert Anjorin, Ifeyori Ihimodu, Etannibi Alemika, Emily Alemika, Adewumi Osanaiye, Sam Ale, Bamidele Solomon, Tunde Adelaiye, Rotimi Ajayi, Gbenga Ibileye, Mike Ikupolati, Kolade Obamiro, Dave Omokore, Bamidele Olobaniyi, Sam Metiboba, Segun Akanbi, and Ezekiel Olumodeji, among others. There are also Taiwo Fagbemi, Taiwo Daramola, Salman Idris, Timothy Asobele, Stephen Owa, Moses Ayodele, Francis Bayo Lewu, Joseph Owonubi, Samuel Olowo, Olu Olufeagba, Albert Kole Olayemi, Olujide Jackson, Blessing Oladele, Sunday Orebiyi, Paul Bolorunduro, Kutu Raphael and Joash Amupitan, among several others.

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Opinion

Tainted threat of ’emergency rule’ in Anambra

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By Ehichioya Ezomon

President Muhammadu Buhari may’ve temporarily doused the tension generated by Wednesday, October 6, 2021, threat by the government to proclaim a “state of emergency” in Anambra State.
LThe Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), threw the obviously discriminatory and politically-motivated proposal amid public expectation of de-escalation of tension nationwide.
According to Anambra Governor Willie Obiano, Buhari isn’t in support of the minister’s bombshell that has sent shockwaves, and elicited condemnation across the country.
The government that should lead peace initiatives appears to stoke unrest with Malami’s outburst that excuses other states in Nigeria that have more serious challenges to law and order.
The strife in the South-East, mainly from agitation for secession of the zone, is nothing compared to the carnage in the North-East, Middle Belt and North-West of Nigeria, where terrorists maraud.
And there’ve never been hints of imposition of a state of emergency in any of the states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto.
So, why the threat in Anambra regarded as the most peaceful in the South-East until lately? Obiano, after a quick visit to Buhari at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, on Thursday, October 7, thumped his chest in attestation to the prior peace that existed in Anambra.
Short of berating Malami, who broached the plan after Wednesday, October 6, meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Obiano described insecurity in Anambra as “a flash in the pan” and “a little hiccup.”
He queried Malami’s turn-away from the hotspots “in Kaduna, in Jos, in Imo, in Zamfara” and said, “why is he making that kind of assertion, and we have an election by the corner?”
Likening happenings in Anambra and the North-West and North-East to a case of malaria and cancer that require “different treatments,” Obiano said, “we are not near, in terms of confusion and security challenges, compared to Zamfara and co.”
“Look at what is happening in the North; they kill dozens every day. Because less than 15 people were killed in Anambra in two weeks, is that a reason for somebody to call for a state of emergency? That’s a very unfortunate comment by Malami,” Obiano said.
“In summary, what I’m saying is what is happening in Anambra… crisis and challenges are far from being close to (the) challenges in the North-West and in the North-East, as the case may be.”
Explaining the rationale for weighing an emergency rule in Anambra, Malami focused principally on tightening of security ahead of the November 6, 2021, governorship election in the state.
“His words: “What I’m saying… is that no possibility is ruled out by government in terms of ensuring the sanctity of our democratic order, in terms of ensuring that our elections in Anambra hold.
“And you cannot rule out the possibility of (a) declaration of (a) state of emergency where it is established, in essence, that there’s a failure on the part of the state government to ensure the sanctity of security of lives, properties and democratic order.”
The scenario painted by Malami raises several questions: Absent the poll, will normal security operations suffice in Anambra, as in Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo, which’ve witnessed reported attacks by a “militia” Eastern Security Network (ESN), allied to the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and “unknown gunmen”?
What a state of emergency does the government envisage in Anambra? The brand that displaces Governors and Legislative Assemblies, and imposes Sole Administrators, as executed by Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in the Western Region in May 1962, and President Olusegun Obasanjo in Plateau State in May 2004 and Ekiti State in October 2006?
Or the kind that allows elected organs to remain in place, such as actioned by President Goodluck Jonathan in Borno and Plateau in 2011, and in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in May 2013?
While the Balewa emergency flowed from the intra-party crisis in the Action Group (AG) in the Western Region, and Obasanjo’s emanated respectively from ethnic and religious violence in Plateau and Kano, and the impeachment of Governor Ayodele Fayose; the Jonathan actions, first in Borno and Plateau, and later in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe were purely to curtail insecurity in the affected states.
The conditions precedent to a proclamation of a state of emergency, which initially lasts for six months, are listed in Part II (Miscellaneous Provisions), section 305(1-6) of the amended 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, but we deal here, paraphrasingly, with subsections (1), (2), (3)(c)(d)(f)(g), (4), (5) and (6)(a)(b)(c)(d).
Section 305(1) states: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the President may, by instrument published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation, issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the Federation or any part thereof.”
(2) The President shall transmit copies of the Official Gazette to the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, each of whom shall convene or arrange for a meeting of the House, “to consider the situation and decide whether or not to pass a resolution approving the Proclamation.”
(3) “The President shall have power to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency only when-
(c) there is actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof to such extent as to require extraordinary measures to restore peace and security;
(d) there is a clear and actual breakdown of public order and public safety in the Federation or any part thereof requiring extraordinary measures to avert such danger;
(f) there is any other public danger which clearly constitutes a threat to the existence of the Federation;
(g) the President receives a request to do so in accordance with the provisions of subsection (4) of this section.”
Subsection (5) says the President shall not issue a proclamation of a state of emergency in any case to which the provisions of subsection (4) applies “unless the Governor fails, within a reasonable time, to make a request to the President to issue such Proclamation.” But has insecurity in Anambra reached the level that the Governor failed to request a state of emergency?
Mr Obiano says no, hence he didn’t ask for, as per subsection (4), “a resolution, supported by two-thirds majority of the House of Assembly, requesting the President to issue a Proclamation of a state of emergency in the State when there is existence within the State any of the situations specified in subsection (3)(c)(d) and (e) of this section and such a situation does not extend beyond the boundaries of the State.”
These conditions for a proclamation of a state of emergency are straight-forward, and unambiguous, harbouring no partisanship, as allegedly displayed by the Balewa and Obasanjo administrations.
Still, there’re more questions to ask, and inferences and implications to draw from government’s attempt at a back-door proclamation of a state of emergency in Anambra. They include:
Despite the atrocities of Boko Haram in the North-East and North-West, and “bandits” in the North-West and Middle Belt, government hasn’t imposed an emergency in any or all of the states.*
Why in Anambra? Is it a precursor, as critics allege, to a wider application of the rule in the South-East, or any other state or zone where agitation for secession has reared or may rear its head?
The Malami mooted proposal fits into President Buhari’s declaration to crush any separatist agitation and deal ruthlessly with those stoking and backing such divisive campaign.*
The series of “Operation Python Dance” in the South-East didn’t result in the expected outcome. Will “Operation Golden Dawn” in the area or a state therein guarantee peace?
Government’s proposal may reecho the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), which backgrounds the alleged exclusion, marginalisation, and injustice against the South-East and Igbo in Nigeria.*
An emergency rule in Anambra is a Catch 23 situation, as government can’t deny political motive, to favour the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the November poll, while the beneficiary of such an alleged imposition would lose the mandate and legitimacy of the electorate in Anambra and the entire South-East.
Yet, it’s not late for the government to pull the breaks on Anambra, and reool its strategy of deploying power for the sword rather than the shield, to achieve peace and security in the South-East, and Nigeria.
The administration of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua had laid the marker in the Niger Delta, when militants were engaged in dialogue, to lay down their arms in exchange for an enduring amnesty programme.
The Buhari administration should follow in the footsteps of the Yar’Adua example in the South-East, and elsewhere, and dialogue with genuine agitators for equity, inclusiveness and justice for all.

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