The Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL) Group and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) Nigeria, on Wednesday signalled an end to their five-year hostility, which had cost the economy substantial fortune in jobs and revenue. The historic truce, achieved through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, is expected to unlock over $300 billion in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) to the country.
Respite came following the formal signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the sub-lease in terms of settlement and service agreement between both parties. This brought to an end the conflict that arose between Samsung and Ladol in 2018.
Present at the landmark ceremony were stakeholders in the nation’s economic zones, including Managing Director/Chief Executive, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), Professor Adesoji Adesugba; acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Mohammed Bello Koko.
Others were Executive Chairman/Founder, LADOL, Chief Ladi Jadesimi; erstwhile Managing Director, Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) Nigeria, Mr. Jejin Jeon; and Chairman, Nigerian Economic Zones Association (NEZA), Chief Oluwatoyin Elegbede.
Adesugba said the dispute had shut out investments worth over $7 billion and 3,000 jobs, adding that the peaceful resolution would also provide direct employment opportunities to over 10,000 Nigerians.
He said, “We are very happy that we have been able to actualise Mr. President’s directive that we must as a matter of national urgency ensure that this dispute is arrested.
“We are celebrating that investments worth this quantum is being unlocked into the Nigerian economy and we hope that we will continue to monitor what is happening between Samsung and LADOL to ensure that they live up to the spirit of what they have signed today.
“We expect that we shall start seeing visible results within the next couple of months, not up to a year; we will start seeing employments and different projects coming into the country.
“We were in Seoul, and they promised us that if we can resolve this, Nigeria is going to have more companies coming from South Korea to invest in the Nigerian economy. We are very optimistic that this is going to be a win-win situation for both the investors and Nigeria.”
He also attributed the resolution of the five-year commercial conflict to the setting up of ADR unit on his assumption of office, in collaboration with the National Dispute Resolution Centre at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce (ACCI).
Adesugba said, “What NEPZA has done is that as soon as I resumed office last year, we set up the NEPZA Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre. And you can see, this is the outcome of what we did.”
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his insistence on unlocking investments in the country as well as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Niyi Adebayo, for his role and leadership to ensure the success of the intervention.
Speaking at the occasion also, Koko said the conflict, which had previously defied multiple attempts towards a resolution, had led to loss of jobs and revenue to government.
He stated, “In the past three years, no activities have been taking place there (economic zones). There’s been loss of economic values and loss of jobs. So we are happy that has been resolved today. Both parties have agreed to work together and going forward, if there are any disputes, NPA will be involved in it.
“We want to thank President Muhammadu Buhari who had taken the action that has led to the resolution of this dispute. Today is a happy day and is good for the nation and this would ensure that confidence of investors improve in term of foreign direct investment in Nigeria.”
Amid the imbroglio in 2020, Buhari had issued a directive to NPA to return the land taken away from Ladol to the company, but the order was not implemented.
“Today, we are formally implementing that directive. And the essence of this is to ensure that both parties resolve their problem and activities at the yard in Ladol actually starts,” Koko added.
In an interview with THISDAY, Jadesimi confirmed that the disagreement between LADOL and Samsung had finally been laid to rest in the interest of the Nigerian economy.
He said, “The meeting today is to bring an end to a dispute between the Ladol Group and SHI, which has been lingering for a little while and which became critical that it be sorted out. And now it has been completely resolved.”
“The key thing is to be able to resolve it peacefully for a far stronger joint venture going forward. It was a commercial dispute but the key thing is that it had been completely resolved in the interest of the Nigerian economy.”
On his part, Jeon said the resolution of the crisis would foster greater collaboration with all parties towards achieving better performance in the industry.
He said the dispute had further strengthened and reinforced SHI’s relationship with its partners.
Jeon added, “Based on that experience and enforcement, I am sure both Samsung and Ladol under the leadership of relevant government agencies, we will continue our collaboration for the growth of the industry and our business.
“Our assignment will not damage any relationship with the Nigerian government and our industry.
“So based on our 10 years of experience, good and bad experience, including those disputes but I think through those disputes, our relationship with our partners have been far more strengthened and reinforced.”
Jeon also expressed regret over what transpired over the past decade, expressed confidence that, God helping, the industry will witness better improvement going forward, adding that Samsung will be part of Nigeria’s development.
Chairman, Nigerian Economic Zones Association (NEZA), Chief Oluwatoyin Elegbede, said, “The Nigerian Economic Zones Association is very happy for the resolution of this problem because this is a problem between two of our members, Ladol and SHI. It’s been on for a decade and we just thank God that this has been resolved today.”
Essentially, the dispute over land lease between the LADOL, an indigenous firm, and SHI, a Korean firm, started in 2018, with NPA’s purported unilateral revocation of the presidential 25-year lease approval granted to Ladol and its replacement with a Direct Lease in 2019.
NPA, by that action, claimed to have taken a portion of land from Ladol and leased to Samsung.
The controversy led to the closure of business activities in the zone by both firms with over 3,000 job losses, halting of economic value chains and other losses that have stifled free flow of revenues to government and further investments.
In view of the unabated dislocation the dispute made on the country’s industrialisation process, another presidential directive was issued in 2020 to reaffirm the 2018 presidential approval of the land to Ladol.
However, the latest presidential directive was also jettisoned.
Concerned by the prolonged dispute, Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Ameachi, waded in. Amaechi instructed Koko to ensure the presidential directive, as communicated by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), was implemented without further delay.
But two other resolved issues hinged on SHI MCI FZE’s sub-lease agreement with a LADOL affiliate, Global Resources Management Limited (GRML) and SHI MCI’s operating licence as a free zone enterprise within the LADOL free zone.
By this settlement, all the cases filed in various courts by the two parties have been withdrawn with the stage set for full-scale operation to begin in that business ecosystem.
The terms of settlement were agreed in January and both the lease and sublease agreements were formally signed yesterday.
James Emejo in Abuja