Fifty thousand General Motors retirees face destruction of benefits

[SEE: Retirees Getting Shafted By Court, GM]

Fifty thousand General Motors retirees face destruction of benefits

Interview with a former New Jersey auto worker

By Lawrence Porter and David Walsh
17 July 2009

The bankruptcy of General Motors, and the organization of a “new” auto company in its place, is being carried out at the expense of tens of thousands of active and retired auto workers, along with dealerships, other small businesses, and entire communities.

It is a ruthless Wall Street operation, presided over by the Obama administration, that will benefit only the corporate elite. Characteristically, a White House statement July 15 declared that it “strongly opposes” a measure in Congress pressing GM and Chrysler to restore the several thousand dealerships closed by the auto companies’ bankruptcies.

TomTom Micale

The administration claims that the crisis requires “all stakeholders to make difficult sacrifices.” In fact, the banks and financial institutions will be “made whole,” and new fortunes will be made out of the process, while the entire cost falls on workers and their families.

Active and retired United Auto Workers members will pay, through the destruction of jobs and the eventual slashing of benefits. The UAW-run health care trust—a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA)—will own 17.5 percent of the new GM. Provided with insufficient assets, but creating a lucrative source of revenue for the UAW officialdom, it will inevitably cut benefits owed hourly retirees. Some 122,000 retired salaried employees will also see their health care and life insurance benefits sharply reduced.

However, among the first victims of the wrecking operation may very well be the 50,000 or so GM retirees who were not UAW members. Most of them belonged to the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE)—now the IUE-Communications Workers of America (IUE-CWA). During the recent bankruptcy court hearings, GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson acknowledged that the benefits owed these workers would likely be dropped.

Many of the workers are located in the Dayton, Ohio area, where the IUE was the bargaining agent at the now-closed assembly plant in Moraine. On July 14 some 600 retirees gathered for a protest at the local union hall in Dayton. The IUE-CWA has organized a publicity campaign, aimed at putting pressure on the Obama administration. The union is encouraging workers to phone and email the White House. The results of this toothless effort are entirely predictable.

The national news media has blacked out the plight of the IUE and other “splinter union” retirees, along with the other victims of the process, preferring to focus on soothing items about GM and its “new culture.” The scant coverage the case has received comes from the local media in Ohio.

Earlier this week the WSWS spoke to a General Motors IUE retiree who responded to our article on the bankruptcy court’s approval of the sales of GM assets.

Tom Micale is a retiree from the Delphi Battery plant (formerly Delco Battery) in New Brunswick, New Jersey, IUE Local 416.

WSWS: Tom, how long did you work at General Motors?

Tom Micale: I started working for GM when I was 19 years old. I retired in 1999 when I was 49. I worked for the Delphi division of General Motors, in New Brunswick. I retired shortly before General Motors got rid of Delphi.

We had a choice to retire under GM, or to continue with Delphi. I thought I was making the best decision by going with General Motors. They implied that when we retired we would have lifetime pension and lifetime health benefits, even though when I retired that wasn’t my goal.

A couple of years after I retired, I worked at a battery division at Delphi. Delphi got rid of the division. Within a year, Johnson Controls, which bought the battery operations in 2006, dumped the two battery plants that it had operated. The New Brunswick plant closed in 2007.

Delphi declared bankruptcy in October 2005, as you know.

So I thought that I had made the right decision go with GM. Then things began to happen to the economy, and later General Motors declared bankruptcy, that’s when this whole thing started.

When I saw what had happened with the UAW and their VEBA, I thought perhaps we would be all right. However, I started really researching the GM bankruptcy proceedings, and it came to my attention that things were not as they appeared to be.

WSWS: Now, you are one of the tens of thousands of IUE and other non-UAW retirees facing the immediate elimination of your benefits. What is happening at this point, as far as you know?

TM: We have not received any official notification, but I have read the bankruptcy court judge’s decision, and as of right now my medical benefits are with the “Motors Liquidation Company” of GM [“the bad company”].

I can’t verify it, but I have read that the “old GM” intends to file a request to the judge within a few days concerning the benefits to retirees, because it cuts too much into the monies they have. And I fully expect by the end of the month that that will occur, and that we will, in fact, have lost all of our benefits.

As far as my pension is concerned, I am on what they call a Supplemental Pension, which is a base pension. GM makes up the difference between the base pension and what I will get when I qualify for full Social Security. Although under the contract, I will be required to file for Social Security when I am 62 at reduced benefits, so it will be somewhat less than what I get on my supplemental.

I cannot find out—and I have researched it! … I cannot find out whether or not the pension has gone with the new GM, or is staying with the old GM. If the benefits stay with the old GM, it is most likely they will turn the pension over to the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, and they do not pay supplemental pensions. So I would take a hit on my pension by about 60 percent, from $2,400 to a little over $900.

WSWS: To be cut that much is drastic.

TM: If I sound like I am crying the blues or something, stop me. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. I feel fortunate compared to some of the other retirees. My wife and I lead very simple lives. We don’t spend a lot. I live in South Carolina. I paid for my house. I don’t owe money to the bank.

We don’t qualify for Medicare for five years. But whatever savings I have is sucked out by the medical industry in this country. My wife has rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. She was young, 40 years old, when she was diagnosed with it. That was twenty years ago. She has been on every kind of medication there is. The latest one is often given to cancer patients and people who have transplants.

She started it two weeks ago, and it costs $1,600 a month. Not including her other medicines. With the medicine I take—I have heart disease—our costs for medication alone are $2,400 a month. And that doesn’t include doctor’s bills.

If I deplete my savings, and I would say that will happen within the next five years, only then will I qualify for Medicare or any form of charity care. If the benefits from GM are cut, we will eventually have to apply for charity!

I have to tell you, this is a shock, an absolute shock to me. I never expected this.

I also care for my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. She was in a nursing home, but I couldn’t leave her there. I’ve cared for her for three years, and also my wife’s two brothers for the last six years. They’re legally blind and totally deaf. They each get a small Social Security payment, which helps defray some of their costs, but the time is totally spent at home doing this.

WSWS: Could you tell me more about the decision of GM to file under Section 363 of the Bankruptcy Code and not Section 1114, which provides more protection?

TM: In my opinion it was all worked out beforehand by the government. It is unprecedented for a company the size of General Motors to go through bankruptcy in 40 days. It should have taken years.

At Delphi, which was one of their suppliers and a much smaller company, it has been four years and they are still working through bankruptcy. It’s just unprecedented, and I believe the whole thing was orchestrated before it ever got to a judge. Not only do I feel GM orchestrated this, I believe the government of this country orchestrated this. We are collateral damage.

WSWS: What do you think of the role of the UAW? It hasn’t said anything in defense of the IUE retirees.

TM: I think its great for the UAW to negotiate a VEBA and have a little bumper on their bumpers. From 1986-89 I was the shop chairman of the IUE, or shop steward, so I was involved in the union at that time as an officer. I can see it from the other side. What I see, however, is the total lack of support between the UAW and the other smaller unions. The unions have morphed into something that is no longer for the workingman, but merely better than nothing.

WSWS: This agreement was not negotiated for the benefit of the UAW workers, but for the benefit of the UAW officials. The last contract will bring new hires in at half the wages.

TM: I have to be honest here. I did the same thing to my local. I bowed to the pressure from my own plant, from those about to retire and from the IUE, and I was the one who negotiated our first … what we called “competitive agreement.” It was a two-tier agreement, which brought people in at half our wages. It was the biggest and greatest mistake I have made in my life, and I have made many!

I regret it to this day. But the unions have gotten away from the principle of solidarity. Like I say, I was only in office three years, but during that time I got to see how the unions really operated. I was not disappointed that I lost the election, and I lost the election because of the two-tier wage system.

People brought in at lower wages were convinced that the man who ran against me would get their wages back, which would never happen. This was a real eye-opener for me. I had expected better until I saw how a union operated on the national level.

WSWS: Barack Obama came in saying he was going to save jobs.

TM: I supported Obama. In the last 30 years, there have only been two presidents I’ve voted for. I believed Obama. I am gravely disappointed since he took office; he is barely doing anything he said he was going to do. When he does, it is more heavily weighted, like the Republicans, for the wealthy in this country. The rest of us are just incidental, despite what he says.

We have a Congress that is majority Democrat, but again it shows that the Democratic Party does not have the courage to do anything. For example, they are supposedly working on this health plan, which I wholeheartedly support. But I don’t expect that anything will come from this Congress that’s going to help me or most Americans. It’s going to be a token.

I don’t have any confidence in them. I’ve lost my entire faith in this so-called representative government. It’s a shame. After 59 years of living in this country and following the rules, I’m just losing faith in the way things are done.

The health care plan will be a boondoggle for the health care providers. The elite in this country do not want a national health care system. As long as we pay taxes and buy their products, that for them is the bottom line.

The auto industry was doing poorly because the entire economy was doing poorly. When people tell me the autoworkers made too much money, they don’t understand we paid for those benefits by the hard work we did. I made a good living, but we paid for this with our sacrificing.

WSWS: They are trying to condition people to accept lower living standards. Those gains were the result of a long history of struggle. It was socialist-minded workers in the 1930s who led the struggles to form industrial unions.

TM: There is still on the local level a belief in the principles of the unions, but at the International level it is something entirely different. I saw it first-hand. Featherbedding, and “let’s not make waves” … I hate it. It’s at the expense of the common, working man. That is why I am still trying to contact retirees, and so on. I want to bring some attention to the plight of the retirees.

I am not looking for the unions to support me in that. It’s something the people have to do themselves. If no one else will do it, I’ll be alone, walking on a picket line. But people in this country have do something and begin to take their country back.

There was a belief that this country had numerous classes, from the extremely poor to the middle class, right on up. There are two classes in this country now, the rich elite and everyone else. This past decade, it has hit us right in the face. In the past, the elite didn’t want us to know that. But now, they don’t even care, because they don’t think we’ll do anything and will be complacent.

The system is broken. I think at some point in time, this country will have a third party. My views have always been on the far left, which cross into socialism in many respects. That’s the way I feel. I honestly am for the working people. I think it is unacceptable that the poorest of the poor don’t have a meal.

The authors also recommend:

The new GM
[11 July 2009]

Bankruptcy judge approves sale of GM assets
[7 July 2009]

In China, overseas forces blamed for Xinjiang protest

In China, overseas forces blamed for Xinjiang protest

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With China’s violence-stricken northwestern region of Xinjiang flooded with riot police, leaders of the country’s ruling Communist Party blame overseas forces for the violence.

Li Zhi, head of the Communist Party in the center of the violence, Urumqi, said many people suspected of orchestrating the riots had been arrested, adding that some were students.

“To those who have committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them,” Li said at a press conference. “The small groups of the violent people have already been caught by the police. The situation is now under control.”

The Chinese official made the remarks after an urgent meeting was called by the Politburo Standing Committee led by Chinese President Hu Jintao to call for members to mobilize in an effort to restore order in the region.

Later in the day, some 8,000 troops marched through one of the areas in Xinjiang’s capital seeking to prevent further violence.

Chinese government officials accuse US-exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer and her followers of being behind the violence.

She, however, denies the allegations and accuses China of inciting the violence.

The Uighurs were once the majority in Xinjiang but now make up only about half of the region’s 20 million people due to Han migration.

The eight million Uighurs in Xinjiang accuse the Chinese government of discrimination and repression. The government, however, denies the charges.

The protests, which saw 156 people killed and more than 1,100 others injured, were sparked over the last month deaths of Uighur factory workers during a brawl in southern China.

Kadeer said earlier on Wednesday that the death toll from the unrest was far higher than the figure given by Chinese authorities.

These feelings of repression led to Sunday’s protests, the exiled Uighur leader added.

Author Claims IDF Preparing Commando Assault (DISINFORMATION)

[See following quote: "Vaknin' sister is Sima Gil-Vaknin, the IDF's (Israel Defense Force's) Chief Censor (true) and Vaknin is a senior Israeli intelligence operative (which I deny emphatically)." ]

Attack on Iran: Rift in the Military and the Role of Commandos

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. – 7/19/2009

Peace Mission 2009 China – Russia Joint Anti-Terrorism Military Drill


The Peace Mission 2009 China – Russia Joint Anti-Terrorism Military Drill is going on in China’s Jilin Province right now.

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more about “Camp opens to Peace Mission 2009 sold…“, posted with vodpod

(chinadaily.com.cn)

Chinese and Russian military staff for the China-Russia Peace Mission 2009 joint exercise have their training on the first day when they entered the camp in Taonan, Jilin province of China, on Wednesday.

Chinese and Russian defense authorities announced on July 8 that the two states, both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, will jointly conduct the exercise.

Russian Armed Forces General of Staff Nikolai Makarov and the PLA General Chen Bingde will hold strategic talks in Russia’s Khabarovsk on July 22.

The military drill begins on July 22 and lasts until July 26. About 1,300 personnel from the army and air force of each side will participate in the exercise and Russia will also send an airborne assault unit, according to the Defense Ministry.

The exercise, code-named “PeaceMission-2009″, will be carried out in Russia’s Far East area and northeast China’s Shenyang Military Command, according to the two countries’ defense authorities. It will last five days.

China, Russia and other member states of Shanghai Cooperation Organization previously held two similar anti-terrorism exercises under the name “Peace Mission” in 2005 and 2007.

The exercise is not targeted at any particular third party but will showcase the abilities and resolutions of both sides to jointly cope with various kinds of security threats and crack down on terrorist, separatist and extremist forces, the Defense Ministry said.

Video & story: Peng Kuang | Editor: Zhu Chuange

27 die in Karachi rain mishaps

27 die in Karachi rain mishaps

Rainfall started again on Sunday afternoon as the death toll in rain-related incidents in Karachi has reached to 27, while 30 others were injured during the first monsoon spell in the city. A mother and her daughter were killed in Lal Shahbaz Nagar in Orangi Town when a wall of their house collapsed in the rain. A seven-year girl died roof collapse in Shah Waliullah Nagar. Two persons Zahir Shah 50, and Bakhtawar were killed in roof collapse in Ittehad Town area of Baldia Town, while 13 girls including a seven-month infant were injured in the incident. The injured were admitted at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Civil Hospital for medical aid. Three persons were electrocuted during the rain in Chakiwara, Korangi 100-Quarters and near Civil Hospital.

Is Britain Coming or Going In Afghanistan?

Gordon Brown plans troops surge in Afghanistan July 12, 2009

• 2,000 more soldiers for Helmand
• Review comes after bloodiest day
Mark Townsend, Toby Helm, Peter Beaumont and Gaby Hinsliff The Observer, Sunday 12 July 2009
Thousands more troops could be sent to Afghanistan within months under an emergency review of the UK mission being carried out by the Ministry of Defence.

The news of a possible troop surge comes after eight British soldiers were killed within 24 hours, leading to fresh calls from senior military and political figures for urgent reinforcements – and an end to Treasury constraints on spending on the Afghan war.

Revealed: Brown’s secret plan to cut Afghanistan force by 1,500 July 13, 2009

The Independent, UK By Brian Brady and Jonathan Owen 07/12/2009
Military chiefs condemn ‘disastrous’ move after Britain suffers bloodiest week

Ministers are secretly planning to cut the number of British troops in Afghanistan, at a time when defence chiefs are appealing for thousands more reinforcements to meet the deadly threat from the resurgent Taliban.

Niger Delta war

Niger Delta war

Attacks outside the creeks introduce uglier twists

By HENRY UMAHI and VINCENT UKPONG KALU
Saturday, July 18, 2009

Photo: The Sun Publishing

With last Sunday night’s bombing of strategic oil installations at the Atlas Cove Jetty in Lagos by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), another ugly chapter has been opened in the ongoing oil war in the country. It was the first time the militants were launching such attack outside the troubled Niger Delta region, thus casting a pall on the rapproachment effort in form of the amnesty deal.

With this ugly development, which effectively exposed the shambolic state of the nation’s intelligence operations, it is safe to say that no part of the nation is safe anymore.

Prior to this, security around President Umar Yar’Adua had been put on alert following the arrest of two suspected militants at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa. The arrest of the suspects was treated as a top security concern. The two suspects, Efe Nsieze Anurte and Omatseye Sheriff Eboh, both from Delta State, were arrested at about 11.30 pm on June 20, as they attempted to sneak into the president’s residence. In the same vein, Yar’Adua’s proposed visit to Bayelsa State was cancelled at the last minute following unfavourable security reports.

To this end, Saturday Sun gathered, foreign countries are warning their nationals that they are at great risk if they choose to remain or travel to Africa’s most populous nation. Indeed, the situation is reminiscent of the days of the agitation for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 2003 presidential elections. Perhaps, to underscore its disdain for the state of insecurity in Nigeria among other factors, the United States of America government completely shunned Nigeria during President Barack Obama’s first official visit to Africa.
By extending its insurgence beyond the Niger Delta region, there is the fear that the polity is mired in uncertainties.

Now, Nigeria is tottering more dangerously than ever on the edge of the precipice.
As the fear of more attacks heightens, the country is panic-stricken. Putting the matter in perspective, international law expert and public affairs analyst, Mr. Chukwuanugo Ejikeme, said: “The attack on oil facility in Lagos by MEND was a signal that more unpredictable days lie ahead. It was a signal to the Federal Government that granting freedom to Henry Okah or in fact, the amnesty package does not simply translate to an end to its agitation for self-determination or resource control and/or better deal from the Nigerian state. In fact, it is a signal that the agitators remain resolute in their quest to take their destiny in their hands”.

Offering further insight, Ejikeme told Saturday Sun: “Again, it appears that MEND wants Nigerians, from the fringe of the Sahara to the Atlantic coastline, to feel, in good measure, the impact of their campaign. This poses a potential threat to national cohesion, peace and unity. For instance, it could result in nationwide scarcity of petroleum products or even get other regions or ethnic militia groups involved by way of reprisal attacks. This could, ultimately, cripple the nation or lead to another avoidable crises”.

Expanding war fronts
In fact, following the attack in Lagos, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the Coalition of Oodua Self-determination Groups (COSEG) had warned that they would retaliate if Niger Delta militants invaded or attacked any facility in the South West zone. The attack could signal a collapse of the existing collaboration between the Niger Delta and others who, hitherto, identified with their cause.
OPC president, Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, fumed: “We hope that it (attack) will not happen again. if it happens again, no relationship will be taken into consideration. OPC will react accordingly”.

Similarly, COSEG, in a press release signed by its Director of Media and Publicity, Comrade Gbenga Soloki, warned: “We want to state emphatically that we will not accept such insurgence again from any group in the country, but if it occurs, our response will be too grave”.

Cohesion crises
Analysts contend that the country could not have sunk lower in the eyes of the international community than now. At a time the country is trying to spruce up its image following years of misrule, unbridled corruption and electoral heist, she is once again an international embarrassment, a country of brutish violence and chaos.
A foreign diplomat, who pleaded anonymity, told Saturday Sun: “Nigeria and its people are now the joke in diplomatic circles. She is seen as incapable of managing herself. The country is seen as a place where security is non-existent. It is doubtful if the country has the capacity to defend itself considering the ease with which the militants struck at the Atlas Cove which is very close to a military cantonment with the presence of the Navy that is supposed to protect the oil installation.”

He said that although the authorities have pledged to beef up security at the airports and other strategic locations in the country, he and his colleagues remain.

Early in the year, Saturday Sun exclusively reported that the villages bordering the Altas cove including Tarkwa Bay was a no-man’s land, a hideout for sundry criminals. Characteristically, not much attention was paid to the report until the militants struck from there having taken refuge in the villages days earlier.
Impeccable sources disclosed that the military high command is gutted by the attack in Lagos, describing it as ‘humiliating embarrassment’. A military strategist, who declined to be named, opined: “The fact of the matter is that the military has lost grip of its primary duty, which is to protect the Nigerian territory and its people. It is a hangover from long military adventure in politics. The officers are all over the place pursuing contracts even as military facilities decay. In fact, the officers and men are decaying with the facilities hence poor intelligence network. I tell you, the whole thing needs overhauling otherwise such embarrassment will recur.”

Analysts content that Nigerians will pay a painful and lasting price if the activities of the militants remain unchecked. According to Mazi Chuku Obini, a youth leader and businessman,” government ought to act swiftly and maturely to save the situation and revive the hope of investors in the polity.”
Obini explained further that what Nigeria currently faces is a choice between action and capital flight or disinvestments, which poses real prospect of economic adversity.

The president of NACCIMA, Dr. Simon Okolo said the latest attack “is going to affect industries. Many investors will panic and withdraw from Nigeria. It means that businesses are no longer safe. Government should do something urgently to address the situation. Definitely, most of our members are going to lose millions of naira. If the Federal Government fails to react now, most companies will close down.”
As MEND threatens that “the mother of all plagues will be used as a last resort,” the inevitable question is, what has become of the amnesty deal?

Observers are curious that while hundreds of militants are reportedly returning their arms to the authorities in exchange for amnesty, yet oil installations are being blown up with reckless abandon.
Sources maintained that there is much more to the ‘show’ than meets the ordinary eye. Investigations revealed that some vested interests are blowing hot and cold at the same time for self-preening purposes. The situation is increasingly becoming akin to the US invasion of Afghanistan leading to an endless battle.

Another Afghanistan
The unfolding event in the Niger Delta where the Nigerian military had been deployed to curtail and put an end to the armed insurgence of the militants could be likened to the American incursion into Afghanistan to fight the al-Qaeda and its local supporters – the Taliban.

America and some coalition forces stormed Afghanistan after the 9/11 bombing of the twin-tower International Trade Centre. It has been a war the American could not win and does not know how to win or how to pull out of. The terrains have made the war for America difficult because the troops are not versed in fighting in such terrain. The same is said of Niger Delta with over 3000 creeks that have not been easy for the Nigerian soldiers to master.

According to US Army General, Stanley McChrystal, the Commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, the conflict there is a “tough war, a very tough war.” By October, it would have been eight years since US forces first went into combat in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda. More than 1,200 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan; 730 of the dead were Americans and the others were of the coalition forces.

Like in Afghanistan and Niger Delta, the waters of vengeance run deep. According to an Afghan, if the Americans kill an Afghan, the son will take revenge and pick a gun and will stand against foreigners.” This reechoes the statement of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta spokesman, Jomo Gbomo that: “As long as the Nigerian government and JTF have chosen to carry out kidnappings and arson against innocent communities and individuals, the militants would continue to fight.” He added: “Our fighting force has been boosted by volunteers made of men and women from all tribes and beyond.”

MEND’s conditions for ending the insurgence hinge on four points which the Federal Government has said it is not favourably disposed to: the return of displaced civilians to their ancestral home, compensation of damages done to them. The third, which the Minister of Defence, Godwin Abbe said the government was not going to obey is the return of the JTF to their barracks and the fourth is constitutional amendment to address fiscal federalism.

When the insurgence started, the government described the militants as criminals and beat its chest never to negotiate with them. Today, the same government is panting and waving olive branch to them.

Ceaseless bombardments
For over five years the restiveness in the area took a dangerous dimension beyond the management of the police, and the Federal Government constituted a Joint Military Task Force to arrest the situation. This development increased the crescendo of violence. The military couldn’t do much to stop it. In some instances when the militants and the military clashed, the militants even claimed having the upper hand. The militants were taking advantage of the terrain, which is alien to the military.

Based on the security report by a former JTF commander to the presidency that the Nigerian military cannot prevail against the militants on land because of the terrain and that the best option in fighting them is through aerial bombardment, the FG ordered the JTF to commence aerial bombing of places in Delta State.
Following the killing of over 15 military men including a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major by the Tompolo camp, the military on May 15 saw the need to implement the security report and launched full scale aerial bombardment of some communities.

As if that was stirring the hornet’s nest, they more than doubled their activities by destroying oil facilities to bring the economy on its knee.
This resulted in the production shortage of about 565,000 barrels of crude oil per day.
Shell is reported to have suffered most as it lost about 340,000, Italian oil firm, ENIC lost about 80,000 while Chevron lost about 12,000 per day of oil output. This development had resulted in the dwindling of revenue from oil export.

About 11 attacks on oil facilities, including pipelines, flow stations and platforms have been carried out by MEND since June 6 and even in the face of amnesty package waved before militants on June 7. They also gave ultimatum to oil workers to leave the region in their own interest. MEND not only promised to continue with attacks, it also warned that it would frustrate the oil and gas agreement which Nigeria signed with Russia mid June when Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev visited Yar’Adua.

Targeted attacks
On June 5, MEND, in an operation code named, Hurricane Moses blew up Okan Manifold belonging to Chevron and abducted six foreign crew members from a chemical tanker. The strategic Okan Manifold controls about 80 per cent of Chevron offshore crude oil to its BOP crude loading platform. According to MEND, the arrest of the six crew was “for disregarding our warning to oil and chemical tankers to keep away from the Niger Delta waters because there are root issues that have to be resolved with the Nigerian government before normalcy can resume.”

On June 10, a flow station in Otunana, Delta State was blown up. The refineries though performing abysmally below capacity are about to be totally grounded. The pipelines that supply crude to Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refineries were attacked and have since been out of use.

On June 22, militants also carried out another attack at a facility belonging to NAOC located at Obioku in Nembe Creek, Bayelsa. Not done yet, two days after, the same fate befell the Cawthom Channel 1, 2 and 3 Flow Stations of Shell’s Bille/Krakana pipeline in Rivers State that feeds the Bonny export terminal. Because the Abileye Flow Station in Warri South West has been frequently attacked, this forced Chevron to close its operation around Delta State shutting in 10,000 barrels per day of oil out put on June 17. ENIC followed suit by closing its Brass River terminal shutting its 33,000 barrels of oil.

On the night of June 25, MEND carried out another attack on the offshore Abremo Oil Field of Shell two days after JTF sacked an Ijaw community in Delta State. The Jacket B of the Abremo Field was blown up 12 hours after amnesty deal was released. The attack on Afremo was the second in one week after the militant group had made the facility its first offshore target in its oil war code named Hurricane Piper Alpha after MEND had earlier on blown up Jacket A.

In its resolve to cripple the Nigerian economy, MEND on June 21, bombed three Chevron facilities in Rivers State. It claimed that Chevron had committed the same crime like Shell to Ogoni by allowing its facilities and base to be used as a launching pad by the JTF to kill their people.

As America is trapped in Afghanistan and is about increasing its troops from 57,000 to 68,000, the Nigerian government is in quagmire over how to address the militants that have held the Nigerian economy by the jugular.

The recent approval of the N14b Petroleum Training Institute in Kaduna by the present administration has drawn the ire of the MEND and other Niger Delta opinion leaders and they are calling for the project to be sited in the Niger Delta as a show of its commitment to sincerely to address the problems of the area. But at the present, there seems to be no remedy or end to the crises of the area that already seems to be escalating.