Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
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Coming a day after inaugurating its multi-billion-dollar global headquarters in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s major gas company (NLNG) Limited has signed Global Memoranda of Understanding (GMoU) with host communities that would enable the communities to take ownership and drive sustainable community development with the active support of the gas company.
The gas company, in its Train 7 gas liquefaction project at $7 billion, announced the first phase of the new agreements with the community stakeholders, comprising Ogbum-nu-Abali, Ubeta and Rumuji in Rivers State. Under this framework, 10 clusters will ultimately be created to drive community-initiated projects through a Foundation that will have a Board of Trustees, Steering Committees, and Community Trusts.
NLNG will provide funds for these clusters and also encourage them to seek additional funds from other donors to finance development initiatives in the respective communities.
Eyono Fatayi-Williams, NLNG’s General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, said the Company’s commitment to its vision of “being a global LNG Company, helping to build a better Nigeria,” is driving its passion for sustainable relationships with its partners in the community.
She stated that the GMoU would give each community leverage over developmental projects unique to its own needs. She said further that the agreements would contribute to changing the socio-economic terrain of the communities, providing jobs, and creating a conducive business environment for small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.
“We, at NLNG, are enthusiasts of participatory sustainable development where the community takes on a leadership role to drive its growth, with the support of NLNG. Each community will identify its development needs and work out implementation through partnerships and physical oversight of projects. We intend to mentor the communities through partnerships with non-governmental agencies and international development agencies to build capacity in managing projects and sustaining outcomes,” Fatayi-Williams said.
According to her, the development of the communities by themselves and for themselves is a win-win strategy for everyone. “It will re-build the basic value of shared responsibility and ownership of development initiatives, thereby ensuring that our hearts and minds are involved in the sustainable development of our communities. We need to change the narrative on sustainable development in the Niger-Delta region and Nigeria as a whole,” she said.
She said the NLNG would continue to pursue sustainable development within its CSR framework, which hinges on four pillars: education, health, economic empowerment, and infrastructure development. She added that the GMoU would create a safe and peaceful environment for all stakeholders to thrive and meet both development and business goals.
The Rivers Commissioner of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Sam Ejekwu, commended NLNG and the communities for peacefully agreeing to the GMoU. He said the agreement was in the right direction for the development of communities in the state, describing it as a partnership between the gas company and the government to drive sustainable development.
The GMoU shall cover NLNG’s operational-related activities and CSR programmes and projects, except for the NLNG Post Primary, Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Scholarships which are flagship schemes that support the Company’s vision of helping to build a better Nigeria.
Phase two of the GMoU agreements will cover Amadi-Ama, and some communities in Ogba, Ekpeye, Kalabari, Egi, Abua, Okrika and Emohua.
NLNG is owned by four Shareholders; namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%), Shell Gas B.V. (25.6%), Total Gaz Electricite Holdings France (15%), and Eni International N.A. N. V. S.àr. l (10.4%).