Nigerians should show more interest in the affairs and operation of the Nigeria LNG in view of the company’s positive impact on the country’s economy, its general manager, external relations, Kudo Eresia-Eke, has said.
Mr. Eresia-Eke, who said this during a visit to the corporate headquarters of PREMIUM TIMES in Abuja on Wednesday, said the contributions of the NLNG to the Nigerian economy, in terms of payments of dividends and taxes, were too significant to ignore.
“NLNG represents the biggest business flying Nigeria’s flag,” he noted during his interaction with the Publisher/CEO of the newspaper, Dapo Olorunyomi, and other top management staff, including Editor-in-chief, Musikilu Mojeed, and Head of Human Resources/Administration, Fred Adetiba.
Mr. Eresia-Eke said he was in PREMIUM TIMES on a familiarisation visit, and commended the newspaper for its professionalism, particularly its pace-setting capacity in online journalism in Nigeria.
“In terms of value for money, the NLNG accounts for 50 per cent of the country’s company tax revenues. More than 70 per cent of its proceeds go to Nigeria. It pays the kind of tax that can bail out the country in difficult times. If I were a Nigerian, I will certainly be more interested in knowing more about this company.
“Why has it been so successful? Why has it not gone the way of others, particularly as it is managed 100 per cent by Nigerians? What kind of species of Nigerians do they have on it management? What are they doing differently?”
The NLNG, a six-train production capacity wholly-owned Nigerian company, exported its first LNG cargo in October 9, 1999. In January 2014, the company reached a landmark milestone with the export of its 3000th cargo.
As at December 2016, the compnay recorded over N95 billion in revenue from about $16.6 billion capital investment, and paid $15.7 billion as dividend to the federal government.
“We also buy gas that ordinarily would have been flared. Before NLNG came, Nigeria was flaring an average of 65-70 per cent. Because the NLNG has been buying the flares, gas flaring has reduced to less than 20 per cent at the moment,” he said.
“We have continued to increase the volume of cooking gas we brought in. We are ready to increase more. We started from 150,000 metric tons, MT. We increased to 250,000 MT. Now, we are supplying about 350 MT,” he said.
Bill to amend NLNG Act
Mr. Eresia-Eke described moves by the National Assembly to amend the NLNG Act of 2004, as a threat to the survival of the company and Nigeria’s corporate interest.
On May 4, 2017, a Bill for an Act to amend the NLNG (Fiscal Incentives, Guarantees and Assurances) Act, Cap N87, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 sponsored by Leo Ogor (PDP) Delta State passed third reading in the House of Representatives.
The Bill seeks to amend the law to ensure the NLNG pays three per cent of its total annual budget to the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC Fund, in line with the provisions of section 14(1) and (2)b of the NDDC Act, 2000.
The Act focuses on fiscal incentives, guarantees and assurances granted to NLNG, including the conferment of pioneer status on the company, exempting it from certain taxes, customs duties and other levies.
The pioneer status granted the NLNG at its inception has been a source of controversy among a section of Nigerians in recent times, which describes it as a drain pipe for government resources.
The status is always granted investors as an incentive for venturing into difficult business terrains for an initial period of five years, subject to renewal for another three years prior to its termination.
The NLNG operated under that status for over 10 years under and enjoyed huge tax holidays granted by the federal government.
But, the proposed amendment seeks to ensure that pioneer status granted the NLNG was terminated at the first anniversary date after the first five years when the cumulated average sales price of LNG reached $3 per million BTU.
Mr. Eresia-Eke accused the National Assembly of trying to unilaterally amend the NLNG Act, saying it was not a good decision for Nigeria, as it would derail the plan to inject fresh investment of $25 billion into the sector.
“$25 billion is almost equivalent to Nigeria’s foreign reserve. With the proposed amendment, changing the goal post and the rules, investors are not likely to be forthcoming with that investment, and Nigeria would have missed out on the benefits.
The company, Mr. Eresia-Eke said, was not consulted in the amendment process, apart from an invitation to a public hearing, where it was given five minutes to make its presentation.
“The national interest is not taken into consideration in this amendment. It appears the National Assembly is not listening to the same message about protecting investments in Nigeria,” he said.
In his response, Mr. Olorunyomi thanked Mr. Eresia-Eke for his visit, and said his recognition of PREMIUM TIMES for its professionalism and unique style of journalism was most encouraging.
Mr. Olorunyomi told his guest that apart from its primary role of news reporting, PREMIUM TIMES also invested in technology and knowledge development, with specialization in media training, investigations and data journalism.
He said in the last three years, the newspaper trained about 200-300 journalists from other media houses in the country, urging Mr. Eresia-Eke to consider taking advantage of the expertise the platform offers to highlight NLNG’s community engagements in health, education and arts.
He said PREMIUM TIMES would be delighted to collaborate with the NLNG, particularly in the areas of professional skills and training for journalists in oil and gas industry related issues, which he described as another area of the newspaper’s strength.
“Beyond the NNPC, and probably the National Bureau of Statistics, we have the most data in that area (oil and gas). We will appreciate your intervention, by considering us to come and take up some of your products and turn them into some new kind of value and models for the public,” Mr. Olorunyomi