• Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Niger Delta youths set to protest NLNG’s refusal to name exact location for $1.5bn shipyard


Over 5000 youths of Niger Delta region are set to protest against the management of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company over the company’s refusal to make a public statement concerning its stand on the exact location of the construction of the $1.5billion shipyard.

NLNG in an earlier statement had decided to site the shipyard at Badagry, Lagos State, but following pressure from stakeholders from Niger Delta and beyond it was gathered that the company had rescinded that decision and had opted to carry out an investors fair in Port Harcourt to revert the project to Rivers State.
The news about the recent reversion was made more acceptable after release of a communiqué issued by the Rivers State Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum revealing   on a radio broadcast that a meeting between the group and management of NLNG had broken the deadlock over its earlier decision to site NLNG dry-dock in Badagry, saying the company would now revert to its operational base in Niger Delta.
The leaders of youth organisations in Niger Delta thought otherwise, saying that they would not accept the pronouncement of a third party as that of NLNG and consequently have demanded that management of the company must come up with a public statement to officially and unequivocally state clearly NLNG’s true position concerning the chosen location for the shipyard.
At a briefing held in Port Harcourt by leaders of the various Niger Delta youth groups recently, spokesperson for the coalition and leader of Bonny Youth Federation, Simeon Wilcox, a lawyer, said that failure to make public statement over the issue and stop the use of stakeholders should attract a large protest of over 5000 youths across every NLNG operational base in the region until the matter could be resolved.
The communiqué signed by the leadership of Bonny, Kalabari, Finima and Orashi youth organisations including apex Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide and the National Youth Council of Nigeria(NYCN) among others noted that NLNG’s continuous silence was not only worrisome but leaves a lot to be desired over the company’s sincerity.
“Even if the said announcement has offered a temporary reprieve to the host and people of Rivers state and Niger Delta in general, it has continued to agitate our minds as to whether NLNG actually reconsidered its decision to site the said dry-dock in Niger Delta irrespective of the fact whether finances for the project is gotten from investors within the Niger Delta region or beyond.
“We are disappointed that NLNG has not thought it wise to make any official statement through the media, state government or community leaders concerning the outcome of an acclaimed agreement with the leadership of the Rivers state Entrepreneurs and Investors Forum.
“Our observation is that NLNG has been vague over this very serious regional economic matter considering our suspicions bothering on the outcome of the feasibility study and the unambiguous claims by its spokesman, Tony Okonedo, that the company is just facilitators and not sponsors of the project,” they said in the statement.
They said their initial grievance was anchored on the fact that NLNG decided against all odds to construct a dry-dock shipyard worth $1.5 billion US dollars in an area outside its operational base and region.
The decision, according to them, was a clear case of insensitivity on the part of the company and a provocative corporate decision as NLNG failed to consider the high unemployment rate inherent in Niger Delta and in which citing of the project would have mitigated in Rivers state and more especially in Bonny kingdom were the livewire of NLNG is domiciled.
“One had imagined that promoters of this noble project would consider the advantage of closeness to raw materials, conducive harbour with huge potentials located in the host state and the people who bear the consequences of pollution arising from flared gas, environmental degradation, huge vessel wave actions which results to shoreline depletion and denies fishermen their only source of livelihood,” the statement said.
Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya, national secretary general of Ijaw Youths Council, in his remarks, noted that the management of NLNG had betrayed and failed in the management and preservation of the interest of their external critical stakeholders. He said there was need for them to do the needful in order not to ignite the already tense atmosphere in the Niger Delta region.
Kalabari youth leader, Livingstone Membere said that he could not discern why the company would choose to neglect the very people that bear the brunt of pollution at this critical time when they should benefit.
Finima youth leader, Aladiokuma Hart, said that Finima community like no other host community has provided the company with serene and the best atmosphere to operate even in the face of certain anomalies put in place by its management. However, he warned that the silence and understanding by youths of the area should not be taken for granted but rather should be reciprocated.
They have urged President Muhammed Buhari, Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives and Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike and members of the Rivers State House of Assembly to intervene on this all important issue in order to avert situations where youths of the state would be left with no choice than to take their destiny in their own hands.