Post COVID-19: Dry Dock will open up N’Delta economy ― UNDEDSS, PANDEF

• say it's an ideal enterprise for Buhari to commission

The Pan- Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS), on Monday, reiterated calls on the Federal Government to, without further delay, relocate the Mega Dry Dock specifically designed for the region from Lagos waters, where it had been lying unused, to the Niger Delta.

This was just as the two groups asserted that the Shipbuilding Dry Dock, considered the largest in Africa, would be the ideal enterprise for President Muhammadu Buhari to commission in the post-COVID-19 Nigerian economy.

PANDEF, the umbrella body that speaks for the region and UNDEDSS, the civil society coalition, made the call at a special Webinar meeting in Lagos to mark the 93rd birthday anniversary of elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, where they also ex-rayed the Niger Delta’s economy after the lockdown.

PANDEF General Secretary, Mr Tony Uranta, who is also the Executive Secretary of UNDEDSS, in a statement made to newsmen, said the benefits of the dock to the region would be immeasurable considering the Maritime University in Delta, declaring that relocating the Dry Dock project would be the biggest investment post-COVID-19 in the region as it would open up its economy.

“Relocating the Dry Dock project to the Niger Delta would be the biggest investment post-COVID-19 in the region and would open up the economy of the region,” he said.

The statement recalled that the House of Representatives had in March 2020, called on the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return and install the floating dock acquired at a cost of over N50billion in Okerenkoko, Delta.

It noted, among others, that the House further urged the Federal Government to as a matter of utmost urgency, direct the installation of the floating dock at Okerenkoko, being the location that was decided upon by the government as the operational base of the maritime facility, even as it reminded the authorities that Nigeria was paying over N4billion annually as demurrage charges for where it was parked.

Uranta, while recalling that the Okerenkoko floating dock project was duly considered and approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its 37th meeting on 23 October 2013, with the approval conveyed to the Federal Ministry of Transport on 29 October 2013, denounced the siting of the Dry dock at Badagry in Lagos State, saying it was contrary to the initial approval by the Federal Government for its location in Delta.

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“The location of the Dry dock to Badagry in Lagos State is contrary to the initial approval by the federal government for its location in Delta,” the statement said, pleading that the project “be moved permanently, installed and commissioned in Delta, considering the contributions of the region to the nation’s economy.”

“The dry dock is lying fallow in the waters of Lagos State and should be taken to Delta State next to the Maritime University to provide practical knowledge to the students.

“The dry dock is located in the Niger Delta will open up the region and make it more viable, including the employment it will generate and the training on shipbuilding processes,” he said.

Speaking, the groups’ scribe, Uranta, while reiterated the groups’ positions, supporting Federal Government’s ordered audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) and cleansing the Ogoni land oil spills, disclosed that the meeting had set up a committee to be chaired by Prof. Pat Utomi, to look at its institutions, state leaderships and contributions of its elected members in the National Assembly to development of the region.

According to him, both PANDEF and UNDEDSS would now begin to study more rigorously, the daily records of how many bills promoted by the region’s representatives at the National Assembly, adding that focus would also be on state governments and its ministries in the region to ascertain utilisation of statutory funds with the view to cut down corruption.

This was just as the two groups urged governors of the region to step up action for the internal security of their various states.

“We are going to begin to study more rigorously, the daily records of how many bills promoted by the region’s representatives at the NASS.

“Our focus will also be on state governments and its ministries in the region to ascertain utilisation of statutory funds to cut down corruption,’ Uranta said.

Uranta, however, appealed for more palliatives to the Niger Delta to keep it robust and assist its people whose lands were no longer viable for farming due to abuses of its lands occasioned by excavation and explorations, even as he declared that the region remained a cash cow for the nation, pointing out that whilst oil prices had crashed, gas prices had risen.




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