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Youth Storm Radio Station Featuring Nlng Spokesman To Protest Drydock Shipyard Site Decision

By Anderson Hart
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The raging controversy over proposed citing of the Nigerian Liquefied Natural gas company drydock shipyard in Badagry, Lagos rather than its operational base in Bonny Island or Niger delta region took a turn for the worst as some youth led by the General National Secretary of Ijaw Youths Council, Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya stormed the premises of Love FM 97.7 venue of a live radio phone-in programme featuring, Tony Okonedo the NLNG spokesman to massively protest the decision.

The youths who said the protest was premised on two issues said they are disappointed over the role of NLNG management in the decision to construct the first major ship yard in Badagry Lagos,, adding also that they are embarrassed that NLNG management also brazenly bribed management of Love FM 97.7 to stall the appearance of the General National Secretary of IYC who was slated to appear on the same Love FM live programme to speak elaborately on the shipyard saga in order to pave way for the NLNG spokesman, Tony Okonedo to appear in the programme instead on a face saving mission.

The protesters waited patiently at the premises of the Love FM radio station and hoisted their placard in protest waiting for the moment the NLNG spokesperson will alight from the building.

With inscriptions such as: WE CAN NO LONGER SUFFER IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY! BONNY AND NIGER DELTA PEOPLE CANNOT SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES OF NLNG GAS FLARING AND YET LOSE THE GAINS OF AN NLNG SHIPYARD! WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN UNTIL NLNG REVERSES ITS DECISION! NLNG DECISION WILL DENY OUR YOUTH’S EMPLOYMENT AND OUR GOVERNMENT DUE TAX! ONNE, BONNY AND OTHER AREAS IN THE NIGER DELTA HAS HUGE POTENTIALS TO HOST THAT PROJECT!!, The NLNG spokesman who finally alighted found out with shock the number of placard hoisting youths on parade but kept mum until he was driving off.

Meanwhile during the live phone-in programme the NLNG spokesperson, Tony Okonedo had outlined some of the benefit derived from the company by the host communities, he explained that NLNG is not wholly responsible for the $1.5 billion dollar project but only a facilitator whose decisions are not automatically binding.

However the NLNG spokesman’s defense was met with strong criticism from different quarters, notably from IYC General National secretary Emmanuel Bristol Alagbariya who said there is no iota of truth in the defense put up by the NLNG spokesman. According to him before the decision to cite the project in Badagry was reached were the stakeholders in the host communities consulted?

He demanded the certified true copies of the feasibility study carried out to ascertain where it was clearly stated that Onne, Bonny, Ogogoro island among others in the Niger delta are second to Badagry. “We want to know why Badagry was singled out as the best place to cite the project”. According to him, “we need to know if it was adjudged the best or one of the best, If the feasibility study had said Badagry was one of the best places then we have reason to start asking questions why options like closeness to the raw materials and closeness to operational base and consideration for the people that bear the brunt of pollution were not considered”, he said adding that until we are able to get clarity on these issues we will continue to condemn in strong terms the decision and will continue to press that the NLNG shipyard building be reverted back to Niger delta.

“NLNG cannot deceitfully use money for Niger delta development to develop other areas while our people wallow in abject poverty. We advise strongly that they reconsider their decision because we will continue to express our grievances and shall pursue this matter until we reach a logical end” Bristol was quoted as saying.

Former Youth leader of Bonny Youth Federation, Gift Furo in hos remark argued that we have enough manpower and security to cite the project in Niger delta, “We hear that Lagos state is congested, how come they want to further congest it with the Badagry shipyard project in Lagos when we have virgin Lands with huge potentials in the Niger delta to accommodate the shipyard project. More painful is the fact that there is regional marginalization under corporate decisions to perpetually marginalize our people and the Niger delta region” he said.

It will be recalled that NLNG company 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. Nigeria is the world’s eighth biggest crude oil producer and Africa’s top oil exporter but it does not have a drydock for maintaining and repairing large crude oil vessels, a major drawback for carriers sailing to the country

NLNG spokesman, Tony Okonedo had said in the programme that only South Africa had such a facility on the continent, meaning that ships travelled a long distance for repairs. He said Nigeria has two facilities that can only accommodate small vessels. Okonedo disclosed that Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries had both made a $30-million commitment towards the construction of the facility adding that decision has been reached to locate it in Badagry, Lagos.

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited, NLNG, a joint venture project between the federal government and foreign oil majors in the country, has generated $85 billion from exports since its inception 15 years ago.