As Nigerians continue to react to the Federal Government’s proposed plan to sell some of its assets, an economic and financial analyst believes the process should be carried out properly and with utmost transparency.
Channels Television hosted Mr Bayo Rotimi on Tuesday who observed that the only way the government could earn the trust of its people was to let the privatisation of its institutions go through the proper channels.
“Government Must Deliver”
He noted that the law had provided for the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to be in charge of sale of government assets.
“Essentially for government to earn the trust of its people, the government must deliver on what it says.
“I am insisting (that privatisation) goes through proper channels; through the NCP and the BPE.
“Let us, the people of Nigeria, monitor the process (and) let us flag any irregularities that we notice (and) let us hold the bidders accountable,” he said.
Hold Government Accountable
The economist also asked the citizens to hold the government accountable on how the proceeds from the sale of assets would be utilised.
He criticised the idea of individual ministries selling their own assets, reiterating that “the law has empowered the NCP and the BPE to carry that out.
“The citizenry has to be alive to their responsibilities.
“I believe that citizens must hold their government accountable.
“If the privatisation agencies sell assets that belong to the collective, first and foremost, we must see that those assets were sold through a transparent process.”
“Drain Pipe On The National Treasury”
Mr Rotimi further stressed the need for the preferred bidders to have the required technical capacity, the ‘management know how’ and the financial muscle to run the institutions effectively.
He asked the government to focus its proposed privatisation plan on institutions “that have constituted themselves into a drain pipe on the national treasury”, especially those that the Nigerian tax payers were keeping afloat.
“With regards to potential sale of stake in the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), personally, I do not support that (because) it is a company that is thriving.
“It is a company that is delivering dividend to the Nigerian people and those dividends have come in very handy in the last year and it will continue for the foreseeable future,” the economist said on Sunrise Daily.
A National Executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Issa Aremu, has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to sell some national assets to finance the country out of economic recession.
Mr Aremu, in a press statement on Monday, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against what he called “feverish prescriptions of few economic hit men”.
He claimed that the ‘hit men’, contrary to the spirit and content of the 1999 constitution, deliberately undermine national development through recommendations that would strip the nation of its critical assets.
The labour leader argued that Nigeria was not short of resources, but only lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels that were committed to nation building.
Mr Aremu pointed out that the country would further slide into underdevelopment if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company which paid the sum of $1.289 billion as dividends for 2013 was sold to the highest bidder for another easy money.
He also commended the economic patriotism of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) for rising in defence of retention of critical national assets such as NLNG.
While calling on the nation’s ruling and economic elite to enunciate big development plans and think outside the box of easy monies to spend, Mr Aremu, however, advocated a bipartisan approach on the economy to include labour and industry.
A leading union of oil workers had on Sunday threatened to shut down the country if the Federal Government carries out the plan to sell some national assets as a way out of the current economic recession.
The oil workers under the aegis of The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), described the plan to sell the national assets as a self-destructive move.
In a statement, PENGASSAN said that the plan, which would solve short term financial obligations, was really aimed at handing over Nigeria’s collective common wealth to a few individuals.
Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.
He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.
According to him, the government needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.
Senator Udoma further explained that Nigeria had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.
“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.
“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.
“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Babs Omotowa, believes gas is the future of Nigeria and has emphasized the need for authorities to put more effort into developing the gas industry.
Mr Omotowa was on Channels Television’s Business Morning on Friday where he spoke about the business of liquefied natural gas and issues in Nigeria’s gas industry.
He admitted that indeed the crash in oil price has had a huge impact on gas prices because 70% of gas price is linked to brent and the implication is that when brent goes down, gas price goes down as well.
However, he noted that gas remains the future for Nigeria.
“Nigeria is in the top ten gas reserves in the world. There is no doubt that most energy experts will tell you that Nigeria is actually more a gas province. I think we still have over 200 years of gas available in Nigeria.
“Remember we have 180 tcf of gas today. Most of that were found by accident. We were looking for oil, we suddenly found gas. We haven’t really gone out aggressively to look for gas and that’s one of the areas we need to focus on as a country.
“How do we incentivise to bring the investments that are required to build this infrastructure?
“We need foreign and local investors to come up with this sort of investment and as a country we need to spend more time thinking about how we can bring in investment to grow the gas industry because gas really is the future, oil was our past.
“Gas can give us not only liquefied gas or domestic power but petrochemicals which gives you a lot of manufacturing capabilities.
He put the potential revenue from the gas industry at about three billion US dollars annually.
While stating that government has to look at incentives to encourage investors, he asked legislators to also look carefully into laws governing the sector and warned against frivolities that could become burdens to investors.
Issues In Nigeria’s Gas Industry
Speaking about the issues that have come up in the gas industry, Mr Omotowa said that they were being addressed as positive results are already being seen.
He highlighted the issues of regulatory uncertainties with the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), under-funding of the industry, infrastructure, security of facilities and long contract approval processes.
“I think in fairness with the current administration since President Buhari has been on seat and the Minister of State for Petroleum, a lot of effort has gone into trying to address these issues.
Mr Omotowa also debunked the belief that the pricing for gas does not favour the company when it has to supply domestically as stiff pricing makes local purchasing hard to come by, so rather it focuses more on exporting it.
He noted that the pricing for gas domestically is “at the right levels” considering the price of domestic gas in the US is lower than the price in Nigeria.
He explained, “Our problem is not the price but that this industry is faced with expenses and costs that are simply not comparative.
“When you think about what we have to spend on security, community development and regulatory government agencies trying to impose so much taxes and fees on us, it just raises the cost up and once these prices are raised up by all these input cost, then the price has to be high.”
Gas Master Plan
Mr Omotowa also explained the different aspects of the proposed Gas Master Plan which was expected to help create a much better business environment in the gas indutry.
First was the area of appropriate gas pricing which he believes has seen progress, as gas price has moved up significantly.
“You had aspects that had to do with trying to have domestic gas obligations for upstream companies. I think we’ve seen progress because I think we are producing a lot more gas to domestic now than we used to before.
“There are aspects to do with increasing the export activities with Brass LNG, OK LNG, and Train 7. I think we are a bit slow on that aspect.
“There have also been aspects to do with building petrochemical plants. Again, we haven’t made much progress in that front.
“So in totality, when you look at the gas master plan, I think in many areas there have been progress and in some areas I think we are still behind but it’s not to be unexpected, because it’s not a plan that was to be completed in a year.
“However, I think we are on the right track, I think with this current administration; the President, the Minister of State for Petroleum, we are really seeing much effort in the right direction.”
The Niger Delta Youth Movement comprising of leaders of youth groups from the Niger Delta, staged a peaceful protest at the office of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Their mission according to the protesters led by Niger Delta activist, Ankio Briggs, was to submit a protest letter to register their displeasure over the siting of the Dry Dock outside of the Niger Delta.
This, however, followed an earlier statement signed by the spokesman of the NLNG, Tony Okonedo, which stated that the Dry Dock Ship Yard was not a property of the NLNG but belonged to Badagry Ship and Marine company in Lagos for which the NLNG is a facilitator and not a sponsor.
Though, some officials of the company were on hand to receive the protest letter, no comments had been made yet by the NLNG.
A source in the company however, told Channels Television that members of management, were in Bonny Island for a meeting over the weekend and an official statement would be made after the letter had been studied.
Top management and officials of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and their families and friends got together to bid farewell to the out-going Deputy Managing Director, Basheer Koko, and welcome his successor, Mohammed Inuwa, into the fold.
Mounting the podium, the Managing Director of NLNG, Babs Omotowa, set the pace for the evening.
Basheer Koko’s story from NNPC to NLNG is that of dedication, hard work and team spirit and his gentle but firm leadership and readiness to assist and encourage everyone are qualities his colleagues say they will miss.
The show of emotion and appreciation was endless as colleagues said goodbye, presenting him with a gift.
Stepping into the shoes Basheer Koko has left behind would not be an easy task but it is one the new Deputy Managing Director of the NLNG, Mohammed Inuwa is optimistic about.
NLNG is indeed proud of the achievement of Mr Basheer Koko and they are most certain that the incoming Deputy Managing Director will also do a great job.
The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, says the country had earned as much as 24 billion dollars in revenue and dividends from its operations in Bonny Island in the last 15 years of its formal existence.
At an event to celebrate the company’s 3,000th Liquefied Natural Gas export cargo in Abuja, the Managing Director of the company, Mr Babs Omotowa, stressed that the country’s decision to embrace the LNG investment has paid off.
He explained that of that amount so far, 13 billion dollars was earned as dividend by the country, while another 11 billion dollars was earned in feed gas sales.
The company, which began operations in Bonny Island 14 years ago, exported her first cargo on October 9, 1999 and is planning to make further strides in the delivery of liquefied natural gas across the world.
Delivering cumulative revenue of about 80 billion dollars since 1999, and contributing about 4% of the Gross Domestic Product through the activities of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited, Nigeria ranks 5th in the global LNG distribution.
Foreign partners and stakeholders in the nation’s oil and gas sector gathered at the event to celebrate with the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited.
Chika Unigwe, author of “On Black Sister’s Street” has emerged winner of this year’s NLNG Nigeria Prize for Literature, carting away the coveted prize of $100,000.
The Belgium based Nigerian author was announced the winner of the prize on Thursday at a World Press Conference in Lagos by the Chairman of the Board of panelists chosen to screen entries for this year, Emeritus Professor Ayo Banjo.
‘On Black Sister’s Street’ made the final shortlist of 3. The other two entries were ‘Only a Canvas‘ by Olusola Olugbesan and ‘Onaedo: The Blacksmith’s Daughter‘ by Ngozi Achebe.
The prize was instituted in 2004 by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited to promote and encourage authorship and the development of Nigerian literary culture and Ms Unigwe is the first Nigerian author based outside Nigeria to win the coveted prize.
Chika Unigwe holds a Ph.D in Literature from University of Leiden and has published short fiction in several anthologies, journals and magazines including Wasafiri (University of London), Moving Worlds (University of Leeds), Per Contra, Voices of the University of Wisconsin and Okike of the University of Nigeria.
In 2003, she was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing.
In 2004, she won the BBC Short story Competition and a Commonwealth Short Story Competition award and her short story made the top 10 of the Million Writers Award for best online fiction.