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Fear Grips NLNG Over Strongly Worded Protest Letter Presented By Rivers Youths And Stakeholders Over Drydock

By Anderson Hart
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Fear is said to have gripped management of multinational gas corporation, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company, NLNG and her investors over a strongly worded protest letter presented by Rivers state youths and stakeholders over proposed location of its Dry dock.

The letter which content made startling revelations previously unheard of lay overwhelming credence to the fact that NLNG in spite of its sustained denial was actually sponsor of the proposed drydock project in Badagry.

In a nine page letter articulately written and copied to government and strategic agencies in the country by Youth leaders representing various youth groups in Rivers state, stakeholders and other youths of Niger delta under the aegis of Joint Niger Delta Youth Movement were led by Niger delta activist, Ann Kio Briggs.

Others who registered their presence in the civil protest to NLNG complex in Port Harcourt include; Chairman, National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, Rivers state chapter, Amb. Sukubo Sara-Igbe Sukubo, National Secretary General of Ijaw Youth Council and Leader of Rivers Ijaw Youths, Engr Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya, Leader Bonny Youth Federation, Barr. Simeon Wilcox among others to express serious disappointment and regret in the non inclusion of host communities who are critical stakeholders of NLNG projects, condemning in the process perceived high level deceit, fabrications and deliberate intention to foist crisis in the region.

Sources in the company who spoke under anonymity said there is rumble and the atmosphere is tense that in spite of alleged attempts by the company to incite other communities and youths against Bonny Island through a recent publication enumerating what Bonny people are benefitting from NLNG youths of Rivers state have remained resolute and undeterred in achieving their joint objective over the dry dock issue and the development is said to be against NLNG plan to forestall further protest by youths. More worrisome for the company is that the protest had gone smoothly without aggression as positions were made without the usually acclaimed violence associated with Niger delta youths.

Part of the demands during the protest is to have the Dry dock located in any of the Niger delta states for the purpose of creating job opportunities for the teeming unemployed youths, they also demanded that NLNG should organize a road show in the Niger delta and assure the investors that they will patronize the investors and make available all their vessels to the dry dock facility to be built in the Niger delta. The letter submitted amidst tight security by NLNG neither deterred the youths who matched on within the NLNG premises to deliver the strongly worded letter received by one of NLNG’s key management officers.

Some contentious issues were raised in the letter which reads in parts: “It is not in dispute that you NLNG conceived the idea and sponsored the disputed Dry dock feasibility studies, received, accepted, gave approval to the report and indeed mobilized banks and investors and also organized a road show to actualize and give effect to your desired decision to site the dry dock in Lagos as pre determined”.

“It is necessary here to note that before the feasibility study and road show of Decenber 9th2014, organized by you there were no foreign or local investors (company or consortium) for the Dry dock, but to our chagrin NLNG had already named the project, Badagry Ship Repair and Marine Engineering, BSME”.

To further give credence to NLNG’s pre determined and lopsided feasibility study, the statement gave references to various reports including one made available by news giant Reuters on Friday June 19th 2015 which was also hoisted on NLNG website captioned ‘NLNG EYES $1.5 BILLION NAIRA DEBUT SHIPYARD IN NIGERIA’. The first paragraph aptly captured that ‘Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) is sponsoring the construction of the first major ship yard in Africa’s biggest economy at the cost of $1.5 billion, in its attempt to turn the country into a hub for maritime operations on the continent”. Reuters went further to quote NLNG spokesman, Tony Okonedo corroborating statements that indicate that they are actually sponsoring the dry dock project.

Furthermore statement to bolster claims by the youth group referenced publications and strategic quotes by NLNG management on Nations Newspaper, Guardian Newspaper, Sun newspaper among others.

The letter in part countered strongly and referred to as unsubstantiated,. NLNG spokesman’s claim that technical grounds like, Natural water depth; Proximity to an international airport and Proximity to an active offshore and onshore West Africa oil and gas hub were practicable parameters used to decide on siting the Dry dock in Badagry

Countering the claims the Joint Niger Delta Youth Movement stated in its letter that it is yet to come to terms on why Badagry which natural water depth of 11-12 meters was chosen ahead of Bonny island with natural water depth of 14.30 meters and the Onne/Ikpokiri which has about 15.2 meters of natural water depth.

On proximity to airport, it states that the distance between Lagos International airport and Badagry is about 68 kilometers while from Port Harcourt international airport to Onne port is about 40 kilometers, even as Bonny Island has the advantage of a mini air strip.

Dissecting the issue of proximity to an active offshore and onshore West Africa oil and gas hub, it states “Niger delta is the most active offshore and onshore oil and gas hub in Nigeria and indeed in the whole of West Africa. Hear this: It is a global established known and accepted empirical fact that only the management of NLNG Bonny and its hired agents the Royal Haskoning DHV are disputing this very obvious fact”.

The protest organized in the most civil and intellectual manner attracted the admiration of security operatives. There was staked consensus among, Ann Kio Briggs, Sukubo Sara Igbe, Bristol Alagbariya and Wilcox and others that NLNG’s hidden but now open agenda can never be allowed to see the light of the day, they assert that the decision will if allowed to fly will be detrimental not just to the present generation of youths in the Niger delta, but to those yet unborn. While they wait on NLNG to reply the letter they are strongly maintaining a capital NO stance to siting the Drydock in Badagry.