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SECURITY RISK ? -Buhari cancels trip to Ogoni land

buhari thinkingPresident Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his visit to Ogoni land in Rivers state.

The president was scheduled to travel to the state to inaugurate the process of cleaning up the area.

Although, no reason was given for the cancellation of the visit, it followed threats by militants- Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) on the life of the president.

President Muhammadu Buhari has canceled at the last minute a visit planned for Thursday to the oil-producing Niger Delta, which has been hit by a wave of militant attacks, a government source said.

President Buhari Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will instead visit the restive southern region to launch a cleanup program of the Ogoniland, an area badly hit by oil spills, the source said, without giving a reason for Buhari’s cancellation, reports Reuters. Buhari had already skipped a visit to the commercial capital Lagos in the south last month at the last minute. Posters with his picture had been already hung up to welcome the president before his spokesman cited “scheduling” difficulties.

It would have been the first visit of the former military ruler to the Delta since taking office in May last year. Critics have accused Buhari, a Muslim from the north, of ignoring the predominately Christian south. The southern Delta swamps have been hit by a series of militant attacks on oil and gas pipelines which have brought Nigeria’s oil output to a 20-year low.

Hours after the announcement of Buhari’s visit to the swamps on Tuesday the Niger Delta Avengers militant group, which has claimed several attacks on Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell facilities, issued a warning to oil firms that their “facilities and personnel will bear the brunt of our fury”. The Avengers have accused Buhari of ignoring local problems. Buhari said on Sunday the government would hold talks with leaders in Nigeria’s main oil-producing region to address their grievances, in a bid to stop a surge in pipeline attacks.

Residents in the swamp areas have for years complained about oil industry pollution and about economic marginalization by the government. Local officials and Western allies such as Britain have told Buhari that moving army reinforcements to the Delta region would not be enough to stop the attacks and that the population’s grievances should be dealt with. 293 0 2 0

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‎The clean-up of the Niger Delta is on the recommendation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which submitted its report to former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.

According to environment experts, the clean-up of the Niger Delta may take 20 years or more to accomplish.

President Muhammadu Buhari will today visit Rivers State to inaugurate the clean-up of the Ogoni land ravaged by oil spill and production degradation.

The clean-up will be inaugurated at Numuu-Tekuru Waterfront in Bodo-Ogoni, Gokana local government in line with the recommendations of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland’s environmental assessment. It was presented to former President Goodluck Jonathan on August 12, 2011.

Ahead of the visit, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) were yesterday trading accusations over alleged plot to disrupt the president’s visit.

But Governor Nyesom Wike sued for peace, urging the people to give a rousing welcome to “our amiable president.”

In a broadcast, the governor said: “As part of measures to enhance security during Mr. President’s visit, I hereby place a ban on the operations of motorcycles and tricycles in Gokana and Khana LGAs between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday, 2nd June 2016. The security agencies have been directed to enforce this ban and ensure full compliance.

“I call on Rivers people, particularly the people of Ogoni land, to come out in great numbers and give our amiable President a rousing welcome during his visit.”

The governor added: “It is historic because it marks his first official visit to the state since assuming office as the President of this great nation. It is most significant because Mr. President is not on a political mission, but to kick-start the largest environmental clean-up in our nation’s history, for which Rivers people, and indeed the Niger Delta, will remain grateful.

“I call on Rivers people to be peaceful, law-abiding and demonstrate the traditional Rivers hospitality towards Mr. President and his distinguished entourage throughout the visit. As I have noted earlier, Mr. President is here as the father of the nation, who cares about the environmental and developmental challenges that we face as one of his primary constituencies.

“Accordingly, his presence in Rivers State is not an occasion for political campaigns by anybody or political party. Rather, it is an occasion and an opportunity for us to demonstrate unity of purpose and our readiness to work together with Mr. President to move Rivers State.

Ogoni leaders were yesterday holding meetings at Korokoro-Tai-Ogoni in Tai local government area, to ensure the success of the visit and for the youths not to allow themselves to be used to disrupt the strategic visit.

Paramount rulers from the four Ogoni local government areas, – Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme –  as well as the President of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Legborsi Pyagbara; youth leaders, women groups, religious leaders and top politicians, among others, attended the meetings.

Rivers APC, through its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, alleged that hoodlums working for the PDP would protest in Ogoni during the president’s visit.

But Special Assistant on Electronic Media to the governor,  Mr. Simeon Nwakaudu, accused the APC leaders in the state of wanting to cause confusion.

Rivers police Spokesman Muhammad Ahmad, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), yesterday said: “The Police are fully prepared about the President’s visit in line with our operational order and in conjunction with the military.

“Mr. President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. So, you must expect the security to be very tight, to avoid any incident. With the deployment of adequate personnel and necessary equipment already done, water-tight security will be provided.”

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