Ejiofor Alike writes that Ebitimi Banigo’s ascension to the throne as the paramount ruler of Okpoama Kingdom in Bayelsa State, will no doubt boost the signing of the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project
As colourful as the rainbow, the inauguration ceremony of former boardroom guru and banker of note, Ebitimi E. Banigo, as paramount ruler of the Okpoama Kingdom in Bayelsa State, will for long remain a topic of discussion on the lips of not only those who made it to the venue, but also by those who watched it on the television.
Installed as OKPO XXl and the Amanyanabo of Okpoama Kingdom, one of the host communities of the multi-billion dollar Brass LNG project, Banigo’s coming at this auspicious time in the life of the project is not only a boost, but equally one that could usher in a new lease of life for the people of the Kingdom. With him at the occasion was another key figure to a successful execution of the project, a former Governor of old Rivers State and frontline leader and the Paramount Ruler of another host community of the project, Twon Brass, Amanyanabo Alfred Diete-Spiff.
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Among the dignitaries at the event was Chairman of the Brass LNG Ltd, Dr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki. He expressed joy with the installation of the King, saying as a boardroom guru, the monarch would no doubt strive to ensure a peaceful environment for business, which he said would be a catalyst to a successful execution of the project.
Gaius-Obaseki added that the visit of the President to the Island to witness the installation of the new King was testimony of the commitment of his administration to a successful execution of the project.
He said Brass Island could be the commercial gateway to Bayelsa State and expressed confidence that when completed, the project will offer job opportunities to hundreds of indigenes of the community and the state at large.
The Final Investment Decision (FID) on the two-train, 10 million metric tonnes per year (mmt/y) project has been scheduled for the first quarter of next year.
Gaius-Obaseki had given the assurance in his address to directors of the company at its Eighth Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Abuja recently.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which presently controls 49 per cent of the Company’s shares, plans to divest to about 30 per cent. As part of its new vision, the corporation also plans to divest five per cent of its stake in the project to Bayelsa State Government, while LNG Japan would take four per cent, Itochu Corporation, three per cent, and a joint venture between Nigerian indigenous company Sahara and France-based Sempra Energy would hold two per cent.
American oil group, ConocoPhillips, French firm, Total and Italian company, Eni, also hold 17 per cent stake apiece in the Brass LNG.
It should be noted that under the Shareholders’ Agreement, the NNPC cannot divest its equity in the project until a Final Investment Decision (FID) has been taken; and towards the realization of this, (FID), a crucial meeting of the Board has been slated for the second week of November. At the moment, all efforts are in top gear by all to make sure that the FID is realised.
New Paramount Ruler
Earlier, the Chairman of Okpoama Kingdom Council of Chiefs, Chief Wapaobinyo Amade-Obasi, noted that the coronation signals a transformation of the Kingdom with its proud heritage into a world class global economy.
In his address, Banigo pledged to work for the common good of the people. He noted that the kingdom was poised to provide the enabling environment for well-meaning investors to harness its abundant resources with a view to becoming an industrial hub especially in the gas and oil sector.
King Banigo, who saluted the efforts of President Jonathan and governors of flood affected states towards alleviating the sufferings of internally displaced persons, also thanked all those who contributed to the success of the event.
King Banigo was founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of defunct All-states Trust Bank Plc; Chairman/Founder, AVC Fund Limited, TMC Savings & Loans Limited and Linkage Assurance Plc. He holds an MBA degree from Harvard University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and also a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from State University of New York, Buffalo, United States of America. He was appointed Minister of Science and Technology from June 1999 to August 2000.
He also worked with Citibank, New York; Chase Manhattan Bank, USA and became the first Nigerian Chief Executive of International Merchant Bank in 1981.
The coronation, which had Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (rtd.), Federal and State legislators, Ministers, among several other government functionaries, also had the Anglican Bishop of the Niger Delta West Diocese, Rev. Emmanuel Oko-Jaja, who crowned the new Amanyanabo.