By Sebastine Obasi
Stakeholders in the Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, have expressed concern over fresh threats to ease of doing business and the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Nigeria following the Senate directive for Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to pay N18.4 billion to host communities for right of way (RoW) it acquired in 1989 for N73 million.
Speaking at the Platforms Africa Forum 2022 in Sheraton Hotel Lagos, the stakeholders maintained that Senate Lacks the power to order NLNG to pay N18.4 billion.
Partner, Bloomfield Law Practice, Dr. Ayodele Oni, who spoke from Houston, Texas,
Stated that the Senate power as guaranteed by the constitution is enormous but does not include giving an order to a company to pay money within a stipulated period.
“The 9th National Assembly has done well and set a standard for the 10th Parliament to surpass. But one area the forthcoming Assembly should refrain from is giving a directive to companies. The recent directive to NLNG to pay N18.4bn within eight weeks is not within the powers of the Senate,” Oni said.
This was corroborated by Jide Ologun, the keynote speaker, who stated, “The Senate is not a Court. That right to order resides solely with the Court.”
Tajudeen Adigun, veteran energy journalist stated that Nigeria’s energy sector is bedevilled by dearth of FID with many companies relocating to other countries due to legislation. He urged the 10th National Assembly to concentrate on making laws that will encourage FID. “The Senate has the Constitutional oversight function but in discharging this role, it must always consider the ease of doing business.
“The communities must be protected while companies too deserve protection to succeed. The NLNG is a company bounded by law and anyone enraged by action or inaction of the company should approach a Court for redress. Well, they can write a petition to the NASS and the parliament too has the right to accept the petition and look into it. But only the Court, not the NASS, has the right to make an order for a company to pay within a stipulated time. The bottom line is that the parliament should consider ease of doing business in discharging its legislative duties,” he added.
It will be recalled that the Senate was petitioned by some communities in the Niger Delta, claiming that they should be compensated to the tune of N18.4 billion for the taking over of their right of way by the NLNG.
The Senator Ayo Akinyelure-led Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions recommended compensation in a report he submitted to the Committee of the whole.