•Urges developed nations to help Africa grow
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Nigeria yesterday took the battle to quash the bid by Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) to claim the $9.6 billion arbitral award a London commercial court affirmed for it as future earnings it lost over an alleged breach of a Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) between the two parties, to the world stage.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in his speech at the United Nations, described the arbitral award of $6.5 billion to P&ID, which due to interest accretion has now risen to $9.6 billion as at the last calculation, as a scam and an attempt to defraud the country.
P$ID, an Irish company, had recently obtained the judgment from the British court to secure $9.6 billion from Nigeria as a penalty for alleged breach of contract between the company and Nigeria in 2010.
Nigeria last week arraigned before the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, two officials of the P&ID Nigeria, which convicted them and ordered a forfeiture of the company’s assets in the country to the federal government.
Ahead of the resumed hearing of the matter tomorrow, Nigerian delegation comprising the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele and Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Ibrahim Magu, arrived in London on Saturday for the legal battle.
On Sunday, the delegation met for five hours with the foreign legal team and others to brainstorm on strategy to get the court to reject P&ID’s bid to attach Nigerian assets to the claim for its collection.
One of the strategies Nigeria is mulling is to present before the British court proceedings at the Federal Court that led to the conviction of the P&ID Nigeria officials for tax evasion among other sundry charges, to back its claim that the failed gas deal was fraudulent from conception.
It was against the foregoing that Buhari in his address at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York formally reported the case to the world body.
He said Nigeria is fighting all manners of social ills, including corruption as typified by the P&ID case.
The president, whose speech was emailed to journalists in Nigeria, told the global body that the swift reaction of Nigeria to the attempt by the company to rob it of its billions of dollars was a clear message to other international criminal groups.
“This is true in the battle against violent extremism, against trafficking in people and drugs and against corruption and money laundering. The present Nigerian government is facing the challenges of corruption head-on. We are giving notice to international criminal groups by the vigorous prosecution of the P&ID scam attempting to cheat Nigeria of billions of dollars,” he said.
Buhari also lamented other international criminal activities, including murder in New Zealand, xenophobia and related crimes in other countries, blaming such grievous crimes on the failure of “tech companies” in various parts of the world to live up to their responsibilities.
“The world was shocked and startled by the massacre in New Zealand by a lone gunman taking the lives of 50 worshippers. This and similar crimes which have been fuelled by social media networks risk seeping into the fabric of an emerging digital culture.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.
“Organised criminal networks, often acting with impunity across international borders, present new challenges where only collective action can deliver genuine results,” he stated.
Buhari thanked the UNGA for the honour accorded to Nigeria by giving the most populous black nation the opportunity to produce its current President; assuring it that Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, who ascended the office on September 17, would not let it down.
“Nigerians are truly grateful and shall endeavour to live up to the expectations and responsibilities thrust upon us. Ambassador Muhammad-Bande is an experienced and seasoned diplomat and I am confident that he will prove to the international community his suitability for this most demanding assignment,” he added.
Buhari also called on the international community to take interest in the development of Africa, saying that a developed Africa will not be a thorn in the flesh of advanced countries but will rather be friendly with them and serve as a partner in progress.
According to him, Africa is bestowed with rich and immense resources, which when explored by investing in the continent, would lead to productivity and outputs that would be beneficial to the entire world.
Buhari canvased what he described as coordinated multilateral efforts for the development of Africa, adding that the current multilateral efforts being made for African development are not coordinated but “plainly incremental.”
He therefore pleaded with advanced countries to take advantage of the enormous resources in Africa for the benefit of the entire world.
“A developed Africa will not be antagonistic to industrialised countries but will become friends and partners in prosperity, security and development. A prosperous Africa will mean greater prosperity for the rest of the world. A poor Africa will be a drag on the rest of the world. Is this what the international community wants?
“A coordinated multilateral effort should be set in motion to utilise and maximise use of the enormous resources on the African continent for the benefit of all nations. Investing partners will be able to recoup their investments manifold over time.
“Current attempts to help develop Africa by industrial countries are un-coordinated and plainly incremental. We have the skills, the manpower and the natural resources, but in many instances, we lack the capital – hence my plea for industrial countries to take a long-term view of Africa, come and partner with us to develop the continent for the benefit of all,” he said.
Buhari also drew the attention of world leaders to poverty in Africa, describing it as a potent source of prevalent crimes in the continent including insurgency, cross-border crimes and human trafficking.
He described poverty as one of the greatest challenges confronting the world, explaining that poverty elimination, on the other hand, is a tool for sustainable development.
The president also listed efforts being made by the federal government to address poverty in Nigeria.
He said: “Poverty in all its manifestations remains one of the greatest challenges facing our world. Its eradication is an indispensable requirement for achieving sustainable development. In this regard, Nigeria has developed a National Social Investment Programme – a pro-poor scheme that targets the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.
“Africa charges you with the singular task of initiating the effort we are calling for. The United Nations has in place processes for promoting collective action to combat global threats. No threat is more potent than poverty and exclusion insurgency, cross-border crimes, human trafficking.
“They are the foul source from which common criminality, insurgency, cross-border crimes, human trafficking and its terrible consequences draw their inspiration.”
In an attempt to appeal to the conscience of world leaders that they have a responsibility to help Africa, Buhari recalled how the United States assisted Europe and Japan following the devastating effects they suffered from the World War II.
He said such compassionate intervention by the United States helped to facilitate the recovery of both the Europe and Japan, adding that this good gesture promoted friendly relations between them and the United States since then.
He urged the developed world to extend such a gesture to Africa to strengthen the ties between them.
The president also spoke on climate change, saying Nigeria shares the world view on the phenomenon by working towards carbon emission targets that he signed in 2015.
He also spoke on the threat posed by violence to the world, noting that Nigeria has itself been a victim of the tragedy.
He added that Nigeria with a huge population of 200 million, derives its strength from its diversity.