Bonny Youths Press Statement Issued At The Algate Hotel G.R.A Ii Portharcourt On March 21st, 2015 At 12 Noon
Good day ladies and gentlemen, members of the press and distinguished youths of Bonny Kingdom.
Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I am Barr. Simeon Wilcox, Leader, Bonny Youths Federation. With me here today is Opuada Kunu – Deputy Leader; Clarkson Banigo – Secretary and other Directors of the Federation.
As you are aware, Bonny has earned the reputation of being one of the most peaceful communities in Rivers State. This is in spite of its Socio-economic difficulties namely, a largely unskilled workforce, massive youth unemployment, substantial infrastructure deficit amongst others which are the basic factors of youth restiveness, agitations and general insecurity.
It might interest you to know that NLNG alone accounts for 4% of Nigeria’s GDP. Also, 30% of Nigeria’s crude oil export is channeled through Shell Bonny Oil and Gas Terminal. Besides, Bonny remains the only gateway for the import and export activities of the Nigerian Port Authority in Rivers State. This is in addition to the contributions of other companies operating on the Island. From the foregoing, it is obvious that Bonny is one of the major lifelines of the Nigerian economy.
But regardless of the enormous economic benefits that accrue to these companies, their host community – Bonny – is treated with little regard. We have called this press conference in order to highlight some of the incidences that have brought the gross neglect and blatant disregard for the community to the fore.
The first issue that has brought us here is the Bonny Ring Road project. It is preposterous that a road project awarded about twenty years ago has yet to achieve any milestone? This project was awarded in 1994 (over 20 years ago) to link the satellite towns and communities in order to facilitate economic activities within the communities and provide an emergency exit in case of industrial disaster on the Island. Sadly, the state of the project is far from completion. And every effort by the Amayanabo of the Kingdom and his Council-of-Chiefs toward getting NDDC to hold the contractor – JAFAC INVESTMENT NIGERIA LTD – accountable has proven abortive.
The other issue we want to address this afternoon is the refusal of the Shell Petroleum Development Company to comply with the order of the Supreme Court of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In July 1958, SHELL entered into a lease agreement with Bonny Kingdom. However, this agreement was breached in May, 1999 when SHELL fraudulently procured a Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) from the Rivers State Government. This matter was referred to the Rivers State High Court which gave judgement of forfeiture of the property by SHELL. On SHELL’s plea, the Court of Appeal and subsequently the Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the High Court and advised SHELL on settlement. Regrettably, Shell has shown a strong unwillingness to settle with the community and has gone a step further by striking a deal with certain individuals in order to sow discord in the community.
These issues are generating agitations capable of breaching the peace within the community.
This has subsequently necessitated action by the youth federation. Let it be known that we will no longer stand by and watch while the likes of SHELL and JAFAC take the community for granted.
As such we firmly insist that:
- Shell complies with the advice of the Supreme Court to settle with the Bonny Community as this is the only avenue to maintaining a good relationship and an enabling environment for Shell to operate in the community; and
- NDDC holds JAFAC Investment Nigeria Ltd accountable for the abandonment of the Bonny Ring Road Project or better still award the project to a competent contractor.
The youths of this community will always follow the path of peace and champion the mechanisms that will enhance the peace and harmony enjoyed by the people of Bonny Island. But we shall strongly resist every move by SHELL and their likes to take us for granted.
Once more, we thank you for coming.
Chamberlain Tobin Barr. Simeon Wilcox
Director, Media and Publicity Leader, Bonny Youth Federation
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