Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) on Tuesday called on the Federal Government and relevant agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to partner with it in the development of Bonny-Bodo, a long-standing government project which will help improve the infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
Before the Senate Committee on Niger Delta in Abuja, NLNG restated its offer to provide 50% of the funding, worth N60 billion, provided the partnership is accepted and matched by the Federal Government. The road will better the lives of the thousands of Nigerians, mainly from the Niger Delta living on Bonny Island, as well other Niger Delta residents in Ogoni, Okrika, Eleme, Andoni, etc.
NLNG also clarified the company’s position on NLNG’s exemption from payment of a three percent (3%) Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) levy.NLNG was granted exemption from payment of this levy by the provisions of the NLNG Act of 2004.
The company reminded the committee that the matter under reference was the subject of a legal action filed against NLNG by the NDDC in 2005, and that the case had travelled through the judicial process from the High Courts, through the Appeal Court to the Supreme Court, which all ruled in NLNG’s favour in October 2011.
According to Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Babs Omotowa, “Nigeria LNG Limited is a law abiding company and has continued to operate within the confines of local and international regulation and the law since inception”.
NLNG’s financial contributions to Nigeria and the Niger Delta have been significant. Apart from $3.6 billion (N720 billion) that NLNG paid as Company Income Tax and Education Tax in 2014 and 2015 which remains the highest by any Company in Nigeria and Sub-Sahara Africa, the company also pays N6 billion annually to the Rivers State Government and N140 million annually to the Bonny Local Government Council.
NLNG added that it is unable to honour unlawful payment demand such as NDDC is making, for the single reason that such action would be in violation of the law and would project Nigeria in negative light with international community from where foreign investments are required even at this crucial time”.
However, NLNG continues to contribute significantly to the Niger Delta through its unique approach to corporate social responsibility in areas of human capital, Infrastructure development and enterprises.
For example, in addition to the hundreds of young Nigerians from the Niger Delta who benefit from NLNG post-primary, undergraduate and overseas post graduate scholarships, some 250,000 residents on Bonny Island have access to uninterrupted electricity supply, pipe borne water and accessible roads.
Bonny also houses NLNG’s Vocational Centre accredited by UK City and Guilds Institute, and provides technical and entrepreneurial skills training for hundreds of community beneficiaries. In addition, NLNG initiated a $1 Billion Vendor Finance Scheme in 2013, which affords local businesses access to low cost finance to encourage local content development and enable growth.
NLNG also recently signed an MOU with Bonny Kingdom for the economic development of the Kingdom over a 25-year period. The Company committed to contribute N3 Billion per annum towards this MOU to be managed by the community.
A recent addition to NLNG’s corporate social responsibility portfolio is the University Support Programme formally announced in 2014 and valued at $12 million. The programme involves the building/refurbishment and equipping of ultra-modern engineering laboratories in six (6) carefully selected universities from across Nigeria. The University of Port Harcourt for instance, benefitted N340 million as a result of this initiative and is preparing to commission an ultramodern three storey building and complete with facilities and equipment.
The financial value of all these NLNG Corporate Social Responsibility activities in the Niger Delta far outweigh the 3% NDDC levy, and thus confirms our position that the issue is not about the levy but strictly about compliance with the rule of law. It is about ensuring that Nigeria remains an attractive destination for foreign investment and that Nigerians are seen globally as a people who honour agreements and letters of assurance from the Government. The foreign investor community and potential foreign investors will be looking at how current investors are treated, and how laws are being complied with.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC (49%), Shell Gas BV, SGBV, (25.6%), Total LNG Nigeria Limited (15%), and Eni International (N.A,) N. V. S. a. r. l (10.4%).