Two Niger Delta groups have urged the Federal Government to relocate the Mega Dry Dock from Lagos waters to the Niger Delta region.
The groups are Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS).
The two organisations made the call at a special webinar meeting, organised on Monday in Lagos, to mark the 93rd birthday of the PANDEF Leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
The meeting was aimed at x-raying the Niger Delta economy after the COVID-19 lockdown.
According to the Niger Delta leaders, the dock, which is described as the largest in Africa, will be the ideal enterprise for President Muhammadu Buhari to inaugurate in the post-COVID -19 Nigerian economy.
They said that the dry dock, specifically designed for the region, had been lying unused in the Lagos waters.
A statement issued by Mr Tony Uranta, the UNDEDSS Executive Secretary and General Secretary of PANDEF, said that the benefits of the dock to the region would be immeasurable, considering the Maritime University in Delta.
“Relocating the Dry Dock project to the Niger Delta will be the biggest investment in the Niger Delta, post-COVID-19, and will open up the economy of the region,” he said.
The House of Representatives had, in March, urged the Federal Government and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to return the floating dock, acquired at a cost of over N50bn to Okerenkoko, Delta.
The House also called for the installation of the floating dock at Okerenkoko, the location that was said to have been decided upon by government as the operational base of the maritime facility.
It urged NIMASA to abide by all the terms and conditions precedent to the acquisition of the dock, with a view to ensuring that it was put into operation in Okerenkoko.
The dock had, since its arrival in the country on June 11, 2018, been in a storage cart, owing to alleged bureaucratic wrangling over its operational location.
The statement stated that the project was duly considered and approved by the Federal Executive Council at its 37th meeting on Oct. 23, 2013, adding that the approval was conveyed to the Federal Ministry of Transport on Oct. 29, 2013.
“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.
“Our appeal is that the dry dock be moved permanently, installed and inaugurated 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, next to the Maritime University, to provide practical knowledge to the students.
“The dock, if located in the Niger Delta, will open up the region and make it more viable, including the employment it will generate and the trainings on ship building processes,” he said.
Uranta said that the meeting had set up a committee, headed by Prof. Utomi, to look at its institutions, state leaderships and contributions of its elected members in the National Assembly to the development of the region.
“We are going to begin to study, more rigorously, the daily records of how many bills promoted by the region’s representatives at the national assembly.
“Our focus will also be on state governments in the region and their ministries, to ascertain the utilisation of statutory funds to cut down corruption,” he said.
Uranta quoted the meeting as appealing for more palliatives to the region in order to keep it robust and assist the people whose lands were no longer viable for farming due to excavations and explorations.
He said that the region had remained the cash cow for the country, pointing out that while oil prices had crashed, gas prices had risen.
Uranta reiterated the groups’ position, supporting the audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC), as ordered by the Federal Government and cleansing of the Ogoni land oil spills.
He also quoted the groups as urging the governors of the region to step up action for internal security of their respective states.