Lagos - The Action Congress of Nigeria on Thursday described as “illegal, unconstitutional and indefensible” the $40 million annual fee paid to ex- militants to guard pipelines in the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, the party said one of the main causes of the overheating of the polity today “is the reckless manner political power is exercised and monopolised by a few individuals. Regrettably, some actions and inaction of this administration have lent credence to the widely held belief that this administration is waging and exerting power only for the benefits of a section of the country.”
The party recalled that on January 22, 2012, it issued a statement in which it queried the rationale behind the memo that was presented to the Federal Executive Council that month, seeking the Council’s approval for a strategic concessioning partnership between NIMASA and Global West to enforce regulatory compliance and surveillance of the entire Nigerian maritime domain.
In the same statement, the party said it had expressed “serious concerns” particularly because the Federal Government actually withdrew a bill before the National Assembly that would have carried out the same functions now being outsourced to a private firm.
“We state again emphatically that it is totally unacceptable and unconscionable – even unprecedented especially in a fragile federation like ours – for any government to hand over the security of its entire maritime domain to a private firm a group of ex – militants for that matter given the far reaching implications of such a decision for trade, security, ports and shipping of the country.
“What is the agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan in allowing this to happen? Why would a government so willingly abdicate its responsibility of ensuring the security of its maritime domain? What were the ministers thinking when they approved this dangerous memo,” the party wondered.
The party added, “The Action Congress has dismissed as self-serving, irresponsible, untenable and illogical attempts to defend this outrageous decision to hand over the security of not only our entire maritime domain but also the responsibility of protecting our pipelines to ex- militants.
“In the first instance, a decision as momentous as this ought to have been a subject of rigorous national debate. The entire transaction lacks transparency and due process and finally it passes a vote of no confidence in our armed forces and security agencies who are constitutionally mandated to provide these services.”
The party said those who sought to justify the payments on the grounds that “since the militants took over the security of Nigeria’s pipelines has been on the decline (an entirely false claim) and that production has gone up have completely missed the point.
“The real issues at stake apart from those raised above are as aptly put by the spokesman for the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, that it is the inalienable right of Nigerians to know how they are governed and how their resources are allocated and that the Federal Government must at all times conduct its affairs in conformity with the constitution of the country to ensure that no individual or section of the country dominate access to natural resources.”
The ACN called on the National Assembly to immediately wade into the matter “with a view to reversing this dangerous development in view of its national security implications. We also once again call on all Nigerians to show interest in this matter which has far- reaching implications for the country’s continued existence as one entity.”