House Urges FG to Suspend Planned Sale of Stake in NLNG

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Probes alleged extortion of international inbound passengers by customs

James Emejo in Abuja

The House of Representatives wednesday passed a motion urging the federal government to suspend the proposed sale of its stake in the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG).

It further resolved to investigate the veracity of the allegation that government actually planned to sell off the asset and mandated its Committee on Gas Resources to ensure compliance.

The resolution was consequent upon a motion moved by Hon. Randolph Oruene Brown on the urgent need to stop the sale of the NLNG.

He noted a recent proposal by the federal government to sell the multi-billion dollar NLNG to raise funds to reflate the Nigerian economy.

Brown said the proposal was as a result of the recommendation of a ministerial retreat in 2016 for an ambitious fiscal stimulus plan involving the generation and injection of massive foreign capital, estimated at between $10 billion and $15 billion (about N 4.72 trillion) into the economy to help the recession recovery process.

According to him, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, had stated that one of the ways to fund the plan would be through the sale of some national assets and the proceeds reinvested in the economy to raise the needed capital for infrastructural development.

The lawmaker noted that the NLNG is one of the most successful ventures that the country has embarked upon when it started from train one through to the sixth train and now the seventh train in the offing.

However, he expressed worry that the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) and the Nigerian Labour union, among other organisations, had seriously frowned at this move and warned the federal government against the proposed sale of national assets, especially the NLNG.

The lawemaker argued that resuscitating the Nigerian economy from recession was the actual reason for the proposed sale of the NLNG even though there are other options the government may adopt to resuscitate the economy.

He added that, “Government has the option of borrowing on long term against the dividends in the NLNG, convert its Joint Venture Holdings in some multinational oil corporations into incorporated Joint Venture Companies, encourage wealthy Nigerians who can afford to buy and therefore rooting for the sale of national assets, to invest in the economy, or to set up their own LNG projects, considering the huge reserves of natural gas in the country.

Brown further contended that the Nigerian workers will be at the receiving end if the sale is allowed to go unchallenged.

According to him: “It is not in any conventional economic reality for any nation to resort to selling off its assets during challenging times, as this exhibits leadership laxity and policy myopia.”

No further debate was allowed on the issue since it’s investigative- and in order not to pre-empt the outcome.
Also, yesterday, the lower chamber passed a motion seeking to constitute an ad-hoc committee to investigate the outcry from international inbound travellers to Nigeria on allegations of arbitrary charges, extortions, bribery, corruption and abuse of office against Officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service.

The proposed committee will also interface with the management of the customs to review its operational manual with respect to treatment and valuation of personal and household effects of international Inbound travellers to the country.

The committee is mandated to report back to the House within two weeks for further legislative action.
The resolution followed a motion sponsored by Hon. Obinna Chidoka (PDP, Anambra) over the issue.

He said the allegations called for the need for investigation, in order to restore the confidence of the Nigerian taxpayers.