By Mohammed Haruna Adamu

LADOL: The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari from inception realised that Nigeria is in dire need of foreign and local investments to create employment and boost the economy.

This informed the president’s aggressive drive for investments.

Since 2015, President Buhari has introduced a lot of incentives to woo local and foreign investors.

His efforts have paid off with the latest ranking of Nigeria in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB), which showed that Nigeria moved 15 places from 146th position to 131 in the World Bank’s report.

With the improvement in Nigeria’s Ease of Doing Business, many foreign and indigenous companies have shown interest in Nigeria since 2015.

Speaking on the topic: ‘Nigeria’s Blue Economy, Potentials and Challenges,’ on Arise TV Global Business Report on October 4, 2019, the Managing Director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL), Dr. Amy Jadesimi, rightly pointed out that “Nigeria is an opportunity many people in the world have missed”.

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“So, the problem is not that they don’t want to put their money here, they are trying to figure out the mechanism for putting their money here. And again, the key to success is indigenous private sector,” she explained.

Indeed, before President Buhari came to power, many foreign investors missed the opportunity in Nigeria because of frustrations by the government agencies.

Even when President Buhari came in and sanitised the system, many companies that parade themselves as indigenous companies have also tried to frustrate foreign investors out of Nigeria.

LADOL, for instance, was accused of waging wars against foreign companies operating in the Lagos free zone.

While indigenous companies build bridges and partnerships to attract investments and build their own capacity, LADOL’s unfriendly attitudes drive away investments from Nigeria.

LADOL’s unquenchable appetite to create monopoly made other investors question its so-called indigenous status.

Jadesimi also assured that “we are going to be able to create hundred thousands of jobs. So, the market potential in Nigeria is what is going to attract that investment into our country”.

The question is: How do you create jobs when you drive away investors?

Having realised that indigenous companies are key to investment, the task before the regulatory agencies is to resolve this issue of LADOL’s indigenous status.

When it is clarified that LADOL is not a foreign company masquerading as a local company, it will be given its rightful place as either a foreign company or a local company.

This confusion about its ownership status came to the front burner when it was discovered that a company called LILE (LADOL Integrated Logistics Enterprise) which is a duly registered company in the British Virgin Islands owns LADOL.

The shareholding structure is substantially made up of two foreign companies namely: SABLE OFFSHORE INVESTMENTS and ALSBA Ventures Group. Both companies are registered entities in the British Virgin Islands otherwise known as the safe haven for tax dodgers.

SABLE Offshore Investments commands a whopping 53 per cent stake in LADOL while ALSBA Ventures Group takes an impressive 31 per cent of the shares. This only leaves a share percentage of 16 per cent for the remaining shareholders, which includes key characters currently at the helm of LADOL.

Before this development, LADOL and its affiliates have flaunted the perception of being a company which stands for the Nigeria values and interests and enjoyed the full benefits of the Nigerian Content Law.

This propaganda earned the company and its promoters awards and endorsements both locally and internationally.

But with this allegation about its ownership, it is now clear that all that glitters are not gold.

The only way to resolve this issue is to launch a probe into the ownership structure of the company.

…Adamu, a public policy analyst, writes from Abuja


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