The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola has said that Nigeria democracy would grow unless Nigerians respect government institutions in line with the spirit democratic values.
Senator Adeola (APC, Lagos West) made the declaration on Monday evening at the ongoing Public Hearing on the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FST) of federal government organized by the Senate joint Committee on Finance and National Planning.
The lawmaker described as “unfortunate” the attitude of some Nigerian organisations to government institutions in Nigeria, especially the National Assembly which represents the wishes and powers of Nigerians from all sections of the country. Adeola’s reaction was sequel to the contemptuous attitude of the management of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited which refused to appear before the Senate Joint Committee, but rather sent some “line managers” to appear before the committee despite a proper invitation extended to the company after the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning listed it among revenue generating agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Decrying the arrogance and attitude of the management of the NLNG, Senator Adeola revealed that the a certain staff of the NLNG had earlier reported to his office claiming that the company was not under any compulsion to appear before the Nigerian Senate as all the information the Senate may need was already published in the company’s brochure.
A miffed Sen. Adeola told the 3-man team from the NLNG led by the General Manager, External Relations of the company, Ms Eyono Fatai-Williams that it was unfortunate that the NLNG was taking Nigeria’s highest lawmaking body with such level of contempt. The lawmaker said that “if today the NLNG is invited by the US Senate, concerning the gas business, the MD will [sure] be in the US Senate.”
“If the top echelon of the NLNG is too big to appear before the Nigerian Senate, then there is a serious fundamental problem,” Senator Adeola continued. The Committee refused to take presentations from the NLNG delegation.
However, speaking on why none of the top management staff of the NLNG was available to attend the Senate Public Hearing, Ms Eyono Fatai-Williams who was accompanied by Gbenga Oluyomi General Manager Finance and Andy Odeh, Manager Government Relations and National Assembly told the joint committee that the Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer of the NLNG, Tony Attah was undergoing 14-day “standard” COVID-19 protocol established by the company since January 28, 2020, why the Deputy Managing Director was on vacation.
According to Ms Fatai-Williams the NLNG at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic instituted a protocol that required all members of staff of the organisation to embark on 14-day quarantine before and after accessing their facilities.
Other members of the joint committee including the Vice Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Senator Patrick Ayo Akinyelure (PDP, Ondo ), Senators Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue), Amah Nnachi (PDP) and Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf (APC, Taraba) condemned the attitude of some top government factionaries towards the National Assembly, even though they (organisations) owe their existence to the acts of the parliament as well as being constitutionally subjected to the oversight of the National Assembly.
The federal government of Nigeria (through the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC]) holds the majority stake in the NLNG with 49%, Shell holds 15% while the duo of Total and Eni hold 15% and 10.4% shares respectively.
After concerted pleas by Ms Fatai-Williams, Senator Adeola ruled that the NLNG teams should present itself today (Tuesday) to answer questions in relations to the joint Committee’s investigations.