THE Executive Director, Business Development of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), Ibrahim Aliyu in this interview with Maritime Correspondent, Godfrey Bivbere in Lagos, speaks on a range of issues including; recession, their reason for choosing Lagos as operational base, its advantages to the nation’s economy, investment plans, among other issues. Excerpts:
We are aware that some stakeholders have criticised LADOL for operating in some aspects of business it should not, what is your reaction to this?
I will not want to comment on what other stakeholders think of us, but we in LADOL believe in collaboration with all stakeholders that will increase our local capacity here in Nigeria as well as attract more investments and provide more employments for Nigerians.
Why did your management choose Lagos when most oil and gas operations are based in the Niger-Delta area where the crude is located?
Specifically, I think LADOL chose Lagos to make it possible for anchorages and offshore operations closer to Lagos that require the services we provide to get the logistics support that we provide. In this regard, we are saving the country at least one billion per year until 2019. In plain words, we chose Lagos just to attract anchorages and offshore operations that are close to Lagos.
What is the contribution of LADOL to the nation’s economy?
Our operations in Lagos will create jobs across the country because for every job created in LADOL, at least 10 other jobs are created across Nigeria. For example, fabrication yards here have increased local demand for fabrication by 10 times and this will increase as more capacity is developed.
Furthermore, LADOL is attracting foreign investments to Nigeria and also making Nigeria a hub. It is also attracting neighbouring countries and therefore attracting direct foreign investments as well as domestication of our foreign exchange.
What is LADOL’s present staff strength and what is your management’s employment projection for the next two years?
Well, at the moment I think we are operating with around 600 direct staff and we are hoping that by next year with the fabrication operation, we will have about 2,000 direct staff and the year after; we are hoping it will go up to 5,000.
What about indirect jobs?
We believe that indirect jobs should be up to 10,000 to 20,000 in two years time. Like I told you, for every job we do; at least 10 jobs will be created. So with 600 you will have 6,000 indirect jobs.
What is the projection of LADOL for the next five years?
In the next five years, we are hoping that at least 10 billion dollars investments will come to Nigeria. If companies like LADOL succeed, we believe that Nigeria will have about 10 billion dollars investment to set up outfits like ours. We are also focusing on human capital development and funding of smaller companies. At the Free Zone, LADOL provides infrastructure and support services for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SME’s and we also provide support services for the oil and gas and industrial market. At the same time, we are diversifying to attract a wider range of companies such as car manufacturers into the zone as well.
Are you talking of assemblage or manufacturing?
We are trying to attract them so that they can come and bring their investment and manufacture their cars there and put them into the economy of Nigeria.
Is there any positive response yet from any of the potential investors?
Yes, we believe so, we are talking to quite a few that have shown interest in coming to LADOL to start manufacturing but it is at its early stage and I will not want to comment further on this until all the details have been concluded.
What is the relation of LADOL with the host communities because I have heard some people complaining that your company is neglecting indigenes of these communities in terms of employment?
LADOL’s relationship with the host community I believe, is cordial and mutually beneficial. Mutually beneficial in the sense that labour and security services are procured directly from the host communities. Whenever we are employing, we give the first priority to them unless we cannot get a qualified candidate from there.
The oil and gas business has been a bit slow due to the global economic recession, in your opinion, how soon do you think Nigeria will get out of it?
As you said, business is slow in Nigeria and globally and that is why we should use this opportunity to increase our local content capacity by getting more companies like LADOL to invest in Nigeria so that we can earn more and do more of these things locally. We should use this time to make sure that local content is increased so that we can attract countries around us to come here to do business instead of we to these countries.
We are hoping that the market will pick up very soon but I believe that at times like this when the market is down should be the best time to invest in infrastructure so that when the market picks up, Nigerian capacity would have increased significantly.
In the maritime sector a lot of complains have been made about the absence of dockyards for dry-docking of vessels and ship owners are forced to go to neighbouring countries for this service which is a major source of capital flight. Is LADOL considering investment in this area?
Yes, we are looking at it and we will be very happy to discuss with any serious investor who are interested in partnering with us in that aspect. As you said, there is a lot of capital flight in that area and LADOL is very interested in looking in that direction and we will be glad to discuss with any investor who is ready to partner with us to achieve it.
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Source: <Vanguard NG>