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Monday, 30 May 2016

Rewane asks: How come militants returned after Buhari stepped up anti-graft war?


Bismarck Rewane, a renowned economist, is bothered by the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region, wondering why the attacks on oil installations started after the current administration “stepped up its anti-graft war”.
Speaking on a special edition of Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, Rewane encouraged the government to focus more on intelligence gathering because the attacks could be a “massive conspiracy”.
“Who are the avengers and what are they avenging? The Niger Delta struggle was about self determination, resource control, about environmental pollution, all the way from Isaac Boro to Ken Saro Wiwa,” he said.
“The destruction of assets at this time happen to coincide with the step up on the anti-corruption war. Is there a link between the anti-graft war and the militancy? What is this all about? There’s a riddle that needs to be unravelled.”
Rewane said the attacks have been more disturbing because oil installations where Nigeria generates huge revenues have been the main targets.
He said the disruption in oil production is capable of affecting the economic programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“The reality is that the disruption of oil production and its impact on our fiscal revenue and our foreign exchange resources, on our exchange rate, and our external reserves is profound. Really huge!” he said.
“Now, what is more disturbing is that oil assets that have been disrupted are those where Nigeria gets it highest revenue, so the impact on the fiscal revenue of Nigeria is beyond comprehension.
“One asks the question: ‘Who are these people, and what do they want?’ Is this a proxy war for the politically disgruntled? Because this is a very elaborate attack, they go deep into the water, and they are well sophisticated. These are not people who are talking about amnesty.
“So, we need to talk about intelligence. There could be a massive conspiracy. This is crunch time for Nigeria. The last thing we need now as a bullet in our head is a drop in production.”
Analysing the different reactions that trailed the increase in the pump price of petrol under the previous and the present administrations, Rewane said while former President Goodluck Jonathan had “trust and fiscal deficits”, his successor had “a trust surplus and a fiscal deficit”.
Rewane explained that labour unions could not organise a successful strike under Buhari because of “trust surplus”, but advised the president to work on “fiscal deficit”.
“The reason why this time the strike on petroleum failed was because the president has what is called a trust surplus, but has a fiscal deficit. The combination of both made sure that everything failed,” he said.
“What Jonathan had was a trust deficit and a fiscal deficit. What is happening now is that because of the trust surplus, we’ve been able to right that but the trust surplus is being used and you have to build on that and you have to reduce that fiscal deficit as you go along, so there’s an equilibrium there.”
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