By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), will soon commence drilling for a deeper search for oil and gas in the Benue Trough.
According to a statement made available to newsmen yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday, this will be the next step following the commencement of drilling in the Kolmani River area, located within Bauchi and Gombe States.
President Buhari, who made the announcement while addressing traditional rulers at the Banquet Hall, Government House, Makurdi, Benue State, recalled that as Minister of Petroleum in the 70s, he had seen “very interesting seismic surveys” that promised oil and gas from the Chad Basin through the Benue Trough down to the Delta region.
He said for mostly commercial reasons, investment was directed to the Niger Delta given the promise of quicker results.
He narrated past efforts by him as Military Head of State to diversify the country’s sources of oil to strengthen its unity, promising that his administration will intensify efforts in this direction.
Buhari welcomed the observation by the Tor Tiv, His Royal Majesty, Professor James Ayatse, that peace had been restored to Benue State following the spike, sometimes back in farmers and herders’ clashes as well as the fact the President had so far conducted a decent and a peaceful campaign.
He promised to look at requests for more roads, bridges and tertiary institutions made by the royal father.
Earlier, the Tor Tiv had expressed appreciation to President Buhari, “for the way and manner you have conducted peaceful campaign, no riots, no violence, setting good example. We had a challenging time in 2016. Thanks for your intervention, for accepting our appeal to step up security. Operation Whirl Strike has succeeded in chasing away violent herders.”
He also called for a closer look at the border to stop “criminals and bandits” from crossing into Nigeria.
The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom in his remarks, called for free and fair elections, urging all contestants to abide by the outcome. He told the President that, “We believe you are a man of integrity and you keep your words. I will like to believe that you will not do anything to truncate our democracy.”