Dr. Amy Jadesimi is the Managing Director, Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL).
In this interview, she decries the letters from Nigerian Ports Authority directing LADOL to relocate its $500 million fabrication facility from Lagos to Bayelsa State and explains the level of work already done on the project.
There are these two letters purportedly written to you by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), asking LADOL to relocate its fabrication yard to President Goodluck Jonathan’s home state, Bayelsa. What is your reaction to this?
We got the two letters the same day, a day after the appointment of the new Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Alhaji Sanusi Bayero. The letters are diversionary in content, and the stakeholders should not allow them to distract their attention from the goals of providing one of the biggest floating vessels in the world, and making Nigeria the West Africa oil and gas hub, among other laudable objectives. We do not have any problem with the NPA. NPA has office in LADOL free trade zone. NPA has been following our construction in the zone. We do not have any problem with them. NPA has called us on several occasions and said that we are the largest private investor in the zone. By the end of 2017, we will have invested $500 million privately in the NPA facility. And so, I was surprised by the letter. What we are doing is ask for clarifications. The two letters they sent to us are impossibilities. I want to believe that NPA has been misled. They do not know the implication of what they are doing. The second letter stated that oil and gas related cargoes can only be discharged at Intel facility. Unfortunately, this is the first time that I have seen such a letter. I saw such a letter in 2007; that time the Minister of State for Transport sent such a letter around and it caused chaos in the oil and gas sector. The letter was that all oil and gas activities should be handled by a single company. And in 2009, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua cancelled the directive and made it clear that Nigeria was not in support of such an idea. Tactically and technically, it is impossible for the project to be relocated to Bayelsa, Mr. President’s home state.
Have you met NPA management over this?
We are yet to meet them. We believe that government and NPA might have been misled into saying that we should do our business in Bayelsa. Really this place is already built and it is not possible. Honestly there needs to be dialogue between us and NPA because I know that NPA has been a good partner to us in the past, and I believe they will continue to be a good partner to us; but this issue has to be cleared. We have to discuss it transparently.
What is the implication of this directive?
It will lead to monopoly and unnecessary high cost of operation, if you have a situation where people cannot choose a port of their convenience. If I have something and it needs to be in Lagos, I should be able to send it to Lagos but with this directive I have to send it to Warri and bearing in mind the restrictions in accessing Wari and Calabar ports because of the depth of their channels, the majority of these cargo will have to be sent to Onne. So even if there is no price differential, there are some technical and operational reasons it may not be convenient to send your cargo to Onne. If you have a monopoly, of course, goods will be more expensive in everybody’s house and if you have a monopoly (I showed you the slide where we saw infrastructural development, human capital development lowering cost) when you have a monopoly it goes the other way round. You have lack of infrastructure development because private investors will run away you have lack of human development. If it is only one company doing everything, where is the human capital development coming from. One company can never employ as many people as a thousand companies and, lastly, the cost is lower. So if that circle goes in that direction and you end up with higher cost, of course, people will go to other countries. A directive like this has an impact that is political and social and it is financial suicide. There is nothing positive about it. But as I said I believed Nigeria has moved beyond monopoly.
But you are operating in free trade zone?
Yah! We are in a free zone under Nigeria Export and Processing Zone Area (NEPZA). NEPZA has said that what we are doing here is an approved activity and under no circumstance should we stop. They said that we are creating jobs and we have the authority to carry on because we are in a free zone.
This is a serious risk to Nigeria and it is a critical time. We have seen a lot of things happening in the last few weeks that should be of concern to any business persons. For the country to succeed, we must encourage private indigenous investment like in China,
Brazil and the US. Medium-scale businesses are what grow the economy of the country. This is 100 per cent Nigerian company and anybody that stands in the way of private indigenous investors and thinks that only a foreign investor monopoly can do the businesses in Nigeria even to the extent of shutting down businesses where billions of naira have been invested is standing in the way of Nigeria’s development.
The NCDMB said that $4billion has been invested privately since the Nigerian Content Act became operational. I think it is unfortunate that such letters can be sent out and, as I said, we are going to dialogue with the NPA and address whatever misinformation must have led to them issuing such letters. But since we are under NEPZA, we are continuing with our activities as normal. There are other facilities in Lagos, Warri, Calabar and Port Harcourt that are affected by the letters but let’s not forget that based on these letters, if you have a facility in Port Harcourt that is due to receive goods, what the letter is saying is that those goods will go to Onne facility before they go your facility; it is an impossibility that such a directive can be adhered to. And unless we are prepared to spend the next 10 years waiting for the change that we are hoping to get, we cannot have the change that we hope for if directives like this can be issued. This directive cannot divide us. We are investors and we need to move forward. These directives cannot stand but we have to collaborate and work together. Nigeria is a place that welcomes investors and anybody that is thinking of investing should not be discouraged by directives like these because Nigeria is moving forward.
There is also a report that government plans 10 per cent stake in Intels
The reports that the Federal Government is planning to take over 10 per cent stake in Intels came as a surprise to us but we hope that such transaction will be done in a transparent manner. It is also disturbing to us, the revelation that Intels is collecting some disbursement from the Federal Government for the investment they made in Nigeria. I don’t have a problem with that, but those of us who are investing privately will have to recover our investment from our activities. We need a level playing field.
I don’t think we should be pointing fingers and accusing anybody of anything, but I think we have to tell government that we are stakeholders and we need transparency, level playing field. So what you are doing for one party should not in any way inhibit the activities of the other. Government should also encourage Nigerians that are willing to invest in Nigeria despite the atmosphere.
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