Saturday, 17 September 2011

Nigeria: Fact Check: Hyundai Heavy Industries Building $7bn Shipyard - False

They met

It goes without saying that Nigeria essentially needs a serious fact-checking outfit, one that can review critical and important news items for truth, data and congruence with reality.

In a statement purported from the office of the President of Nigeria late on Thursday; it appears the President met with the CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. of South Korea, Jai-Seong Lee in Abuja, what transpired between them has now become a subject of speculation.

Twists and turns

My involvement in this story started with a Twitter posting by @stanleyazuakola to @renoomokri the Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on New Media on a news story in the Washington Post titled South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy says not building Nigerian shipyard where the company denied the statement released from the “Nigeria’s presidential office that it plans to build a multibillion dollar shipyard in the country.”

The day before, the Washington Post had posted this - Nigeria president promises multibillion-dollar shipyard in oil-rich delta built by Hyundai where the statement from the President’s office suggested a shipyard will be built and completed but 2012 in Brass, Bayelsa State employing about 2,000 Nigerians.

@renoomokri responded with to the enquiry with a news story that appeared in Reuters Africa - Hyundai Heavy to build $7 bln shipyard in Nigeria where apparently, the CEO had in first person terms with reporters said, “My company is going to $7 billion in Nigeria in the building of a shipyard,” strangely, one reads the statement and it makes no sense; it mentions money and building a shipyard but I think it is missing the word – “INVEST”.

Fact Check run

Now, a search on Google at 2:25AM (Dutch Time on the 17th of September 2011) for Jai-Seong Lee with relevance to this release by the President’s office or statement by the mouth of the CEO whichever is true yielded 7 results whose links appear below.

Nigeria president promises multibillion-dollar shipyard in oil-rich delta built by Hyundai – Washington Post – Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to the President.]

Jonathan hails Hyundai decision to build multi-billion dollar shipyard at Brass - The Nation Newspaper - Vincent Ikuomola - Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to the President but no cost assigned to the project.]

S.Korean company to build shipyard in Nigeria - AFP - Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to a statement released by the President with numbers to be employed but no cost.]

Hyundai Heavy to build $7 bln shipyard in Nigeria - Reuters Africa - Sep 15, 2011 [Apparently quoting the CEO but on closer scrutiny of the updated story, (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Dan Lalor) it had changed hands twice and we are no closer to the facts.]

South Korea's Hyundai Heavy says not building Nigerian shipyard - Washington Post - 13 hours ago (Indicating a publication on Sep 16, 2011) [“Hyundai Heavy spokesman Kim Moon-ju said Friday that the company has no such plan.” However, “Kim said the company is building a small pipe-manufacturing factory in Bayelsa.”]

You have to wonder if it was a pipe-dream to build a $7 billion shipyard, the truth is out there somewhere.

Hyundai Heavy: No Plan To Build Shipyard In Nigeria Fox Business - Kyong-Ae Choi - 21 hours ago (Indicating a publication on Sep 16, 2011) [Here, the statement from Hyundai is categorical, using the phrase, “flatly denying reports” to Dow Jones Newswires. However, “Hyundai Heavy signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to construct a gas-plant equipment factory in June. Site work began in mid-September,” the spokesman said. The investment size is yet to be determined.]

Misrepresented Truth

From the foregoing stories and links, we can agree that President Goodluck Jonathan did meet with Mr Jai-Seong Lee, the CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. of South Korea and the company is building a small pipe-manufacturing factory in Bayelsa State which might be related to gas-plant equipment, beyond that, the rest looks like a fable manufactured by someone in the President’s office in cahoots with the reporter from Reuters Africa.

Whilst I am not suggesting there is a nexus between Presidential Assistants, the President’s propaganda machinery and Felix Onuah in Abuja, reporting to Reuters Africa, one should be careful about the impressions created by the release of statements that appear to embellish the truth and paint pictures far from the reality.

On the Fact Check Scale one can say it is Misrepresented Truth – A meeting took place but no promises were made and no one spoke to the press about it.

Note: I will update this if any new developments arise. If indeed Jai-Seong Lee did talk to reporters, you have to wonder why only the reporter from Reuters Africa heard and saw him, surely, there will be pictures and recordings of his statement, so far, the President's men only have that story to support their claims.

1 comment: