… As Nigeria Prepares to acquire two satellites from China for $701m
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that his Government would take a harder look at the imbroglio between the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), so as to curb impunity on both sides of the divide.
The President gave the assurance during his media chat, even as he warned that Government may not pay equal attention to the welfare of new students going overseas for studies, as those who are already, in terms of Government provisions.
Buhari said Government was determined to ascertain the actual status of the face off, in terms of how much the NLNG actually paid, why it allegedly declined payment due to Government, as well as what happened to the monies it actually remitted to the agency.
Specifically, he assured that every monies collected by Government parastatals and institutions would first be paid into Government coffers, as the era where agencies like NIMASA, Customs, NNPC collect and spend government revenue before remitting the rest is gone.
The Dr. Dosumu led NIMASA management had taken up a case with the NLNG, stressing the need for the latter to pay 2 percent cabotage and 3 percent freight levies for shipping by Bonny Gas Limited, a subsidiary of NLNG.
But the jaw-jaw snowballed into a real fight, under Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi in 2013, when the NIMASA bared NLNG operations for non compliance, resulting in a legal battle which culminated in the agency collected about N22 bn. The actual sum was estimated at well over $400million.
The NLNG while playing for time, had argued that the (Fiscal Incentives, Guarantees and Assurances) Act of 2004 Laws of the Federation, granted it exemption from the payment of taxes to government of Nigeria for a period of 10 years or till the achievement of a certain minimum threshold in the price of gas.
It also relied on a paragraph in the Second Schedule of its enabling Act which exempted it from being bound by any new laws, regulations, taxes, imposts or charges of whatever nature.
Meanwhile, the President during the media chat also warned, that his Government, perhaps on a bid to save hard currency, may pay more attention to Nigerians who are currently studying abroad, over and above those who would be proceeding on such ventures, beginning from this year.
Buhari who said Government would leave no stones unturned, to develop infrastructures and foreclose a situation where students sit at windows to receive lectures in the Nigerian universities, said he would ensure that the Federal Ministry of Education and the Central Bank of Nigeria brainstormed, to ensure that those already studying abroad where not unduly hampered by Government policy banning use of Nigerian ATMs (Master cards) in overseas banks. But, the palliative measures, he warned, may not cover new students; even as he totally ruled out any immediate plan, for devaluation of the nation’s currency.
Buhari highlighted that his decision was based on his past experiences, including when he was in charge of Petroleum Resources; stressing that devaluation would only further worsen the nation’s economic woes. He would rather work towards boosting domestic proficiency and productivity, through upping capital investment, in addition to ensuring prudence in public finance, Naira exchange stability, via the Treasury Single Account, TSA, policy.
“Devaluation, if you look at our current economic development level and the challenges of the oil industry downturn, will only put us at the receiving end and further aggravate our position as a country”, he indicated further, noting his strong support, for CBN banning of importers of items like toothpicks from sourcing forex for their importation from the official window.
He however affirmed that his Government lacks any knowledge on the whereabouts of the Chibok Government Secondary School girls, abducted by Boko Haram since April 14, 2014, especially in terms of whether or not they are still alive.
He also affirmed that former National Security Adviser, NSA, Sambo Dasuki currently standing trial, just like the Biafran Radio anchor-man, Nnamdi Kanu may stay longer behind the cell, whether or not they secure bails, because of the severity of the alleged misdemeanours.
Kanu, according to President Buhari, has both Nigerian and British passports, yet, did not use any of the passports to enter into the country. Meaning that if you took the passports from him and grant him bail, you may not be able to track him again.
In the meantime, Nigeria has opened talks with China for the financing and construction of two new communication satellites at a cost of $701m.
The new satellites, to be known as NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3, are to serve as backup to the country’s existing communications satellite, NigComSat-1R, which was put in the orbit in December 2011.
The General Manager, Satellite Applications, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Mr. Abdulrahman Adelajah, disclosed these at a media parley hosted by the company in Abuja on Wednesday.
He also said that NigComSat had won a bid to provide In-Orbit Test for Belarus for the launching of its new satellite from the company’s Abuja ground station.
Adelajah said the China EXIM Bank would finance the construction of the new satellites, which would likely be handled by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation.
He stated, “Following the successful launch of NigComSat-1R, two additional satellites, NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3, are required to provide backup services, expand operations and boost customer confidence.
“The Federal Government has already commenced budgetary provision in this respect. In furtherance of the sustained commercial relations between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China, the Ministry of Finance has been negotiating with the China EXIM Bank to provide a loan facility to support a series of
Nigerian developmental projects, including the manufacture and launch of NigComSat-2 and 3 at a cost of $701m.”
He added, “Both NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 satellites are designed to operate in a geostationary orbit and delivered to orbit locations of 19 degrees East and 22 degrees West, respectively for provision of C-Band, Ku-Band and Ka-Band payload capability for a minimum service life of 15 years.
“NigcomSat-2 is designed to cover Nigeria, Middle East, China and other Asian countries, whilst NigComSat-3 will cover Nigeria, and the South and North America. With the three satellites in orbit, it will be possible for the Nigerian telecommunications industry to dominate the African market within a period of five years after the launch of the satellites.”
Nigeria’s first communications satellite, NigComSat-1, was designed and built by the CGWIC at a cost of $400m. The satellite, which was put in the orbit in May 2007, was deorbited in November 2008 following the development of a power fault. It was replaced in December 2011 with NigComSat-1R by the same company.
In a statement made available to our correspondent, the Head of Public Affairs, NigComSat, Mr. Adamu Idris, explained that the company had been announced as the winner of a bid to provide In-Orbit Test and Carrier Spectrum Services for the Belintersat-1 satellite owned by Belarus.
The Belarus satellite, also constructed by the CGWIC, is set for launch in January 2016.
Additional report from Upshot