President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said that the newly discovered oil in Bauchi and Gombe will help balance the “politics of oil” across the country. Mr Buhari was referring to the Niger Delta’s perceived political power arising from its rich petroleum deposit.
“Now oil has almost become irrelevant, but we thank God that oil is now discovered in Bauchi and Gombe and that will help to balance the politics of oil in the country,” Mr Buhari said.
The president of the federal republic made the statement in Maiduguri, Borno State, while commissioning projects completed by Governor Babagana Zulum in the northeastern state.
Mr Buhari has been widely accused of cheerleading sectionalism in favour of his northern base. Nonetheless, the region has suffered the most in terms of insecurity and mass poverty under his watch.
In August, Mr Buhari ignored outcry by southern governors, lawmakers and oil-bearing communities to sign the Petroleum Industry Bill into law.
Southern governors, legislators and oil-bearing host communities had kicked against the National Assembly’s decision to allocate a paltry three per cent of oil revenues to the host communities.
Opposition party Peoples Democratic Party also described the bill as a “shame to democracy, disregard for the will of the people, and insensitivity to the sufferings of the Niger Delta peoples.”
But Mr Buhari promptly assented to the bill after the National Assembly passed it amid much acrimony.
On Friday, Mr Buhari assured that the federal government, amidst economic hardship, rising poverty, and public outcry for equity, will make developing the new oil sites its priority.
“We will quickly develop that and we are putting pipelines across the country to cut the use of vehicles destroying roads. Within the next 17 months, Nigerians should be able to judge what this administration has done under my leadership when we came in terms of security, the economy, and the most difficult one which is fighting corruption,” Mr Buhari said.
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