…Signs funding deal with FG
By Sopuruchi Onwuka
Africa’s biggest gas liquefaction and export company, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited has entered a tripartite agreement with federal government and Julius Berger Nigeria Plc to deliver the N120.6 billion Bonny-Bodo road project in the Niger Delta.
Federal Government efforts to build the road had been hampered for decades, largely by funding and contractor issues, causing NLNG to intervene and help residents of Bonny Island, who daily brave the vagaries of the sea to travel to the mainland.
With the agreement signed in Abuja by Minsiter of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola; Managing Director of NLNG, Mr. Tony Attah; and Managing Director of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Mr. Wolfgang Goetsch, the parties committed to deliver the road project in record time.
Under the agreement which was signed at the conference room of the Federal Ministry of Works in Abuja, Federal government and NLNG would form equal funding partners to the history making road development while Julius Berger Plc is to deploy world class standards in delivering the project in record time.
According to Mr. Attah, out of a long term infrastructure development budget mapped out by the company, N60.3 billion will be spent on the 34 kilometre road to “boost safe travels and socio-economic activities in the region and help address the twin challenges of poverty and unemployment as well as improve the lives of people of the region, especially those from Bonny, Ogoni, Okrika, Eleme, Andoni, and other communities in the Niger Delta.”
He said the Niger Delta region, especially Bonny, hosts most of Nigeria’s resources and petroleum industry assets, adding that it was long overdue to open up the region to development.
He also said that the vision of the company to stand tall in the list of outstanding global players aligns with its commitment to partner government on credible programmes that would trigger rapid economic and social development of the country.
He made it clear that mass poverty and worsening unemployment are locked in a vicious cycle that must be broken through sustainable investments in creation of means of production. This, he said, has become urgent to address prevailing challenges that threaten both the industry and the country.
He said NLNG’s financial contributions to Nigeria and the Niger Delta have been significant, explaining that the company has generated $90 billion in revenues, paid $5.7 billion in taxes as well as committed more than $200 million to corporate social responsibility projects in the Niger Delta especially in the areas of capacity building and infrastructure development.
“The company also pays or remits N6 billion annually to the Rivers State Government and over N140 million annually to the Bonny Local Government Council under various heads of taxes/levies.
“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. The company also recently spent $12 million on building/refurbishing and equipping engineering laboratories at six universities selected from Nigeria’s geo political zones. All the projects have been successfully completed and commissioned.
“Hundreds of young Nigerians, especially from the Niger Delta benefit from NLNG post-primary, undergraduate and overseas post graduate scholarships.Also significantly residents on Bonny Island have access to uninterrupted electricity supply, pipe borne water and accessible roads courtesy of NLNG and its partners on the Island.
“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.
“Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Bonny Kingdom for the economic development of the Kingdom, NLNG is committing N3 Billion per annum over a 25 year period to be managed by and on behalf of the community,” he narrated.
Spokesman, Dr. Kudo Eresia-Eke stated that NLNG’s involvement in the road project was the largest single CSR initiative ever undertaken by a private company in Nigeria.
In praising the company as the only single business entity to take audacious steps in catalyzing such ambitious deep pocket project in such a difficult terrain, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, declared: “NLNG has stepped up as a unique example of the constructive role the private sector can play in national development.
This project represents a defining moment in Government’s determination to strengthen and improve the quality of life in the Niger Delta which holds so much of the country’s resources.”
He pointed out that the road would link a major resource producing community to the rest of Nigeria for the first time.
He described the role of NLNG as a commendable intervention that aligns with economic recovery and growth plan of the government. He said government would collaborate with players in the industry to clean up, build up and reposition the Niger Delta with the aim to strengthen the economy by spending money in areas that would create ripple economic effect in the value chain.
He pledged government’s commitment to meet it 50 percent obligation to the project, adding that Julius Berger was chosen as the contractor to underscore the commitment to best construction standards.
Managing Director of Julius Berger Plc, Mr. Wolfgang Goetsch, commended NLNG for providing the momentum that has bounced the project off the ground, adding that the construction giant was proud to be associated with such a noble project that would change the lives of the people.
He however pointed out that the contractual agreement on the road would be studied and tidied up to provide the virgin template for such road projects in the country.
He declared the commitment of Julius Berger to deliver the project in time and without compromise on quality, saying such principles of rapid delivery of high quality jobs form the reputation of the company in the past 50 years in Nigeria.
The Oracle Today reports that NLNG is the first successful incorporated joint venture (IJV) between government and its traditional partners in oil and gas exploration and production.
The company is owned by four shareholders, including the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC which holds 49 percent financial interest; Shell Gas BV, SGBV which holds 25.6 percent operating interest; Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France with 15 percent stake; and Eni International (N.A,) N. V. S.àr.L which retains the remaining 10.4 percent stake.