By Adedapo Adesanya
The Akwa Ibom State government has tackled Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) Unlimited, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, over its recent attempt to sell off some of the state assets while there was a pending court case.
The state’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Uko Essien Udom, said the Akwa Ibom State government has filed a suit to prevent Mobil from proceeding with the assets sale.
He described the move as upsetting and unbecoming of a responsible corporate citizen, adding that it was irresponsible for the oil major not to inform the state government, a critical partner, of the intention to carry out such major activity on its shared assets.
“Mobil has not formally informed the state government that they are selling and leaving. Everything we heard was from the press, which is most irresponsible for any corporate citizen. There’s been no direct contact with us. That’s an action that may frustrate the outcome of a pending court case.
“Akwa Ibom State Government had to enter a court case restraining Mobil from continuing with the proposed sale of its assets and that’s because there is pending litigation between Mobil and the government of Akwa Ibom State.
“The attempt to sell its asset, some of which may include assets belonging to Akwa Ibom State was handled in a manner that is rather upsetting.”
For context, ExxonMobil recently informed the general public that it had reached an agreement to sell its equity interest in Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to Seplat Energy, a Nigerian independent oil and gas company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.
President, ExxonMobil Upstream Oil and Gas, Mr Liam Mallon had in a statement explained: “This sale will allow us to prioritise competitively advantaged investments in our strategic assets, and it supports the Nigerian government’s efforts to grow its oil and gas operations.
“We value the relationships we have spent decades building with the government and people of Nigeria, which will continue as we maximise the value from our deepwater operations.
“When finalised, the sale will include the Mobil Development Nigeria and Mobil Exploration Nigeria equity ownership of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, which holds a 40 per cent stake in four oil mining licenses, including more than 90 shallow-water and onshore platforms and 300 producing wells.”
However, this seems to be an affront to the Akwa Ibom government who see the sale attempt as a move that will further frustrate the outcome of the initial court case.
“Mobil has been in Akwa Ibom State for several years and the relationship has been very good until recently. The fact that they’ll attempt to sell in a surreptitious manner without any discussion with the government of Akwa Ibom State is very distressing and not to be expected of a responsible corporate citizen.”
Giving an insight into why ExxonMobil may have dragged the state government to court in the first instance, Mr Udom said, “All the land in Akwa Ibom belong to the government, as it gives out the certificate of occupancy (CofO). Some of the certificates of occupancy purportedly old have been revoked.
“They actually sued the Akwa Ibom government challenging the revocation of some of the CofOs and the matter is pending and it is continuing.
“It is therefore a big surprise to us that in the pendency of these lawsuits, they went ahead and attempted to sell some of the assets and leave.
“That is why we have the order, stopping them from continuing the sale and removing any asset from Akwa Ibom State. The sell-out cannot be allowed to proceed because when you have parties contesting ownership of an asset, all those things would be kept in abeyance.
“The court has the right to keep what is called, ‘subject matter of litigation.’ Any attempt by either of the parties to deplete the asset or sell or dispose of them would be resisted by the court. It is contemptuous actually.”
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Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.
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By Dipo Olowookere
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his desire to put in place an efficient tax administration so as to improve tax revenue in the country and make payments attractive to taxpayers.
Mr Buhari, while declaring open the second National Tax Dialogue Week in Abuja on Tuesday, tasked participants to come up with initiatives that will improve tax administration in Nigeria.
He expressed worry over the multiplicity of taxes in the country, stressing that this was causing confusion among taxpayers, noting that this was why the government authorised the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to be the sola agency to administer tax in Nigeria in the 2021 Finance Act.
According to him, the current tax system in the country is characterised by fragmented administration, multiple and sometimes, overlapping taxes.
“In most tax-efficient nations, tax administrative processes and practices are harmonised within a single system.
“One key deliverable of this year’s tax dialogue is to promote synergy in tax administration among the different tiers of government.
“Harmonising taxpayer identification across the country is a good start, but we must do more to promote ease of doing business (including ease of tax compliance) in Nigeria.
“On our part, we have started by clarifying in the 2021 Finance Act that FIRS is the sole authority to administer tax for the federal government.
“This clarification became necessary in order to avoid taxpayers being burdened with multiple tax compliance obligations towards different agencies of the same government.
“Multiplicity of tax administration is as undesirable as the multiplicity of taxes; it creates uncertainty and instability; and above all, it is inefficient,” Mr Buhari said.
At the event themed Tax Harmonisation for Enhanced Revenue Generation, the President further stressed the need to maximise domestic revenue within the extant tax policy and laws, tasking stakeholders to suggest ways to improve tax revenue without necessarily imposing new tax rates on Nigerians.
“We all know that good intentions are not enough as they simply cannot pay for infrastructure, security or social amenities. We must therefore improve tax revenue without necessarily raising new taxes.
“Revenue from commodities, including crude oil, are too volatile and unreliable. Therefore, I pledge government’s support for any viable initiative for improving tax revenue that should emanate from this dialogue,” he said.
President Buhari also said Nigeria must do more to expand its tax base so as to improve the tax-to-GDP ratio, which he lamented was too low at 6.0 per cent, “according to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in its Revenue Statistics in Africa 2021.”
“It is obvious that much needs to be done in the area of tax revenue mobilisation.
“It is my expectation that the discussions at this 2022 National Tax Dialogue will be focused on what we must do to maximise legitimate revenue collection and massively improve the Tax-to-GDP ratio,” he said.
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the main tax revenue objectives of the federal government include developing an economy that does not lean too heavily on resource wealth.
“The right attitude towards taxation will enable every Nigerian to become a co-guardian of the tax system and the commonwealth,” she said.
On his part, the Chairman of FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nani, stated that, “Nigeria shall be the envy of other countries for tax compliance and domestic tax revenue mobilization.”
By Adedapo Adesanya
MFS Africa, a pan-African digital payments hub, has completed its acquisition of Capricorn Digital Limited popularly known as Baxi, five months after the firm first announced its intention to carry out the transaction.
In October 2021, Business Post had reported the acquisition advised by Verdant Capital. However, it was subject to pending approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which has now been granted.
According to a statement, Capricorn Digital Limited, also known as Baxi, is one of Nigeria’s largest independent SME-focused electronic payment networks, with over 90,000 agents.
“It provides a cash-in/cash-out offering as well as value-added services (account opening, money transfer, bill payment and more) to the last mile.
“The acquiring Baxi is also an opportunity to provide entry into the Nigerian market for MFS Africa.
“Baxi simplifies and integrates online and offline payments for SMEs and merchants in Nigeria through its omnichannel distribution network, while MFS Africa simplifies cross-border payments and integrates payments via one hub,” the statement said.
It is said that Baxi’s growth has accelerated over the last 24 months, achieving over $1.6 billion worth of transactions in 2021.
It noted that MFS Africa would build Baxi into a key node on its digital payment network, enabling customers to make regional and global payments to and from Nigeria.
Founded in 2014 by Mr Degbola Abudu and Mr Folu Majekodunmi, Baxi is one of Nigeria’s largest independent SME-focused electronic payment networks. It provides a comprehensive range of services to the last mile including cash-in/cash-out, account opening, money transfer and bill payment.
Baxi is one of the largest independent non-bank SME focused electronic payment networks in Nigeria operating an Omnichannel platform that enables digital payment through mobile, in-store location, online, wallets and B2B channels.
MFS Africa also intends to expand Baxi’s proposition for offline SMEs to select markets within MFS Africa’s footprint of 320 million mobile wallets across more than 35 African countries.
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
There is no doubt that insurance penetration in Nigeria is low and this is why various stakeholders in the sector are doing everything possible to make things better.
Recently, the foremost life insurer, African Alliance Insurance Plc, joined others to take the gospel of insurance to the grassroots through an Insurance Awareness Walk in Abuja.
The walk for insurance was held in partnership with the Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB) and had in attendance the President of the Council of NCRIB, Mr Rotimi Edu; the NCRIB Abuja Area Committee Chairman, Mr Abass Owolabi; the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of African Alliance Insurance Plc, Mrs Joyce Ojemudia, amongst others.
While sensitizing those at Jabi about the benefits of insurance, Mr Edu urged them to look beyond today and safeguard the future of their loved ones in the case of eventualities.
In her speech, Mrs Ojemudia pointed out that, unlike the general perception, insurance is not for the rich or the wealthy.
“All those small small change you spend daily can help you build a financially free tomorrow. You all know about Esusu, for example; at African Alliance Insurance PLC, we have a plan so named that not only helps you make your contributions periodically but offers a life cover in case anything happens,” she added.
Responding, a representative of the park, Comrade Taiwo Oshobu, thanked the AAI/NCRIB contingent for the eye-opening session and charged the Union members to heed the pieces of advice and take up insurance plans as a contingency for life.
Later in the evening, the African Alliance team hosted the Members Evening of the Abuja Area Committee of the NCRIB.
There, the company’s giant strides in terms of claims payment, digital expansion as well as overall capacity building were brought to the fore.
As at March 20, 2022, Mrs Ojemudia in her speech revealed that a total of N1.96 billion had been paid in claims.
“Recall that we had paid N1.42 billion in the first two months of the year, this means we have paid an estimated N540 million more in just 20 days in the month of March!
“The breakdown is as follows: we paid N373.59 million in Group Life claims; N291.07 million in Individual Life claims; N200.27 million in Takaful claims; Esusu N11.25 million while Annuity was N1.08 billion,” she concluded.
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