Oil Communities: NLNG’s Argument Smacks of Irresponsible Corporate Citizenship

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Ejiofor Alike
The oil-producing communities in the country have stated that the argument by the Nigeria LNG that the amendment of the NLNG Act and the removal of the guarantees and assurances would affect the federal government’s drive to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), has portrayed the company as an irresponsible corporate citizen.

In a position paper on the amendment of the NLNG Act by the House of Representatives, made available to THISDAY, the oil communities, through the Traditional Rulers of Oil Mineral Producing Communities of Nigeria (TROMPCON), said they were worried that NLNG had continuously canvassed “a crooked capitalist-inspired view” on the amendment of the Nigeria LNG Act.

TROMPCON’s National Chairman and paramount ruler of Ngbirichi in Imo State, Eze Akuwueze Ikegwuruka, said the oil-producing communities found it extremely exploitative of the NLNG to keep canvassing solely economic concerns, with scant regards for the well-being of the Niger Delta and its people.

The royal fathers said NLNG’s argument depicted the company as an organisation that idolises economic concerns amidst the groundswell of global transition from pure to conscious and creative capitalism.

They also argued that the Niger Delta is far too important, both in Nigeria, the West African sub-region and the Gulf of Guinea, to be ignored or treated shabbily, stressing that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) was established to provide for the sustainable development of the Niger Delta region and to tackle the ecological and environmental challenges in the region.

According to him, by the explicit provisions of section 14 (2) (b) of the NDDC Act, “gas processing companies” operating in the region are amongst operators in the petroleum industry specifically required to pay to the NDDC Fund “three per cent” of their annual budgets.

He noted that among many companies who default on this statutory obligation – some by not paying the full amounts, Nigeria LNG Ltd is the worst defaulter, as it has adamantly refused to pay its statutory contributions to NDDC since the establishment of the commission 16 years ago.

“The new norm among big business organisations worldwide is to accord as much concern to profits as to people and the planet. There is a growing consensus among top leaders of big businesses, especially in developed countries, that inordinate economic concerns will do humanity no good. It is important to note that Heads of States and Governments heralded the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations by making a commitment to achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions-economic, social and environmental-in a balanced and integrated manner,” Ikegwuruka explained.

They argued that the duplicity of NLNG is highlighted by the fact that the governments of The Netherlands, France and Italy, home countries of its major shareholders, were among those that endorsed Agenda 2030, which encapsulates the abovementioned commitment.

They also condemned what they described as the deceitful attempts by NLNG to blackmail the federal government by dangling the carrots of growth and FDI in a bid to perpetuate guarantees and assurances that have actually expired.
The traditional rulers also disagreed that the removal of the guarantees and assurances in the Nigeria LNG was a huge error, adding that the huge error, which the House of Representatives had graciously corrected, was the special exemption granted in perpetuity to NLNG by Section 9 of and Clauses 2, 3, 6 and 15 of the 2nd Schedule to the Nigeria LNG (Fiscal Incentives, Guarantees and Assurances) Act 2004.

They urged the executive arm of the federal government to shun the blackmail of NLNG, calling on the company to tow the path of creative capitalism by retracing its steps and supporting the highly commendable legislative endeavour, designed to make them contribute to ameliorating the longstanding burden of the Niger Delta.