Oil industry in the straits
First things first, these are not superheroes in this universe or in any other world for that matter. They have been the perpetrators of much vandalism in the Niger Delta and their claim has been that of Robin Hood; stealing from the rich to service the poor. Since their emergence in Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta, the country’s oil production has been halved putting it at a 22 year low. This comes a year into President Buhari’s term in office and the fuel shortages once blamed on the previous leadership can now be safely apportioned to bad decisions on his part too. The government’s violent response to NDA has not helped much. The militants have promised the world that something big is about to happen and no one is excited.
Oil production in Nigeria has fallen from around 2.2 million barrels per day in January 2016 to 1.7 million in April, 1.4 million in mid-May and now 1.1 million barrels per day. This puts output at a record low in 22 years. Nigeria is effectively no longer Africa’s top oil producer. The current nose-dive started in February 2016 when the Avengers blew up an underwater pipeline which forced Royal Dutch Shell to close down its Forcados Export Terminal thus removing a huge 250 000 barrels per day from the national output. More attacks have been carried out in the same fashion until the goal of the Avengers is met. They have unequivocally expressed it, “Our goal is to cripple Nigeria’s economy.” They are not doing a bad job of it.
Who are the Avengers?
No one knows. No one can claim to know who the Avengers as a matter of fact; all that the world can do is speculate. On their website, the militants give an allegory of their own view of themselves, “THE NIGERIAN STATE IS LIKE THE BIBLICAL EGYPT, THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERAL IF LIKE THE BIBLICAL PHARAOHS, PRESIDENT BUHARI IS LIKE THE EGYPTIAN PHARAOH RAMESSES, THE NIGER DELAT PEOPLE ARE LIKE THE JEWS WHILE THE NIGER DELTA AVENGERS IS MOSES, SO WE ARE ASKING IS LET OUR PEOPLE GO. (NIGER DELTANS)”
The one name that has been seen on Press Statements is Brigadier General Mudoch Agbinibo which is thought to be an alias so it does not help anyone. All that can be known of the group is its purpose, which is its whole identity.
“We are a group of educated and well-travelled individuals that are poised to take the Niger Delta struggle to new heights that has never been seen in this nation before,” says a statement published on the group’s website. The group’s Twitter handle currently has an AFP photo of a Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta militant as its profile picture. BBC reports that locals in the region believe the members of the group to largely be elements of previous militant groups like MEND led by Henry Okah arrested in South Africa and Niger Delta People’s Salvation Front under Mujahideen Asari Dokubo.
After declaring “Operation Red Economy”, the NDA has forced Shell to declare a force majeure on exports of Bonny Light crude “after a drip on one of its trunk lines in the Delta” and Chevron also shut down Valve Platform after an attack. After crippling the economy, the next port of call is to establish a sovereign Niger Delta State and the group has said, “By October 2016, we will display our currency, flag, passport, our ruling council and our territory to the world.”
We will kill Buhari
As recently as the first of June, President Buhari was warned that if he or any of his representatives visited the Niger Delta region, they would be killed. A suspected member of the group is heard as saying, “Buhari do not step your foot in our land because we heard you want to visit Ogoni land. Before coming, you should sign your death warrant because we will kill you. If you don’t come and decide to send representatives, you should also sign their death warrant.”
Meanwhile, the President cancelled his visit to Ogoni land and will be represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Clean Up event recommended by the United Nations Environmental Programme Report. There is substantial reason to believe the cancellation is due to the threats to his life made by the Avengers. The Nigerian Defence Headquarters had warned the Avengers that it “will not relent in their efforts to flush out economic saboteurs masquerading under whatever guise to perpetrate evils in the Niger Delta.” With the Boko Haram menace and the Avengers, President Buhari has his work cut out for him.
Image Credit: The Scoop