By Oge Obi
Nigeria’s House of Representatives, after a heated debate on the alleged unlawful termination of the Integrated Logistics Services’ (INTELS) pilotage agreement with the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the termination of the contract by the NPA, Orient Energy Review Reports
The issue which came up on the floor of the House of Reps following a motion brought by Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa) saw members debate whether the Attorney General of Nigeria has the legal authority to unilaterally terminate the contract.
Honorable Douye in his motion urged the House to investigate the process of terminating the ports management agreement/contract entered into by the Federal Government and INTELS Nigeria Limited 17 years ago.
The Lawmaker wondered why contract a that was meant to run for 25 years and has lasted for 17 years will be suddenly terminated. He urged the House to carefully look into the matter with a view to resolving the issue bearing in job losses and other hardship the contract termination will bring on affected workers, stakeholders and the economy in general.
Said he, “It’s known that INTELS Nigeria has over 7,000 Nigerians in its employment and these Nigerians have other dependents. And if we allow these people to lose their jobs, the economy will suffer further blow and setbacks.
“Terminating contracts of this nature, where the company had taken foreign loans to the tune of $900 million to build up the ports, must be given serious and thorough considerations. And we must also as a House, insist that in taking such decisions, the Nigerian Local Content Act and due process must be followed.”
Supporting the motion, Sergius Ogun (PDP, Edo), told the House that workers affected by the contract termination were already protesting. “How can an agreement that has existed for years and showing the world that concessioning works in Nigeria be cancelled in one day, he queried.
“INTELS is hiring Nigerians and if they must cancel that concession, they must follow due process. We want to keep taking oil in the Niger Delta and we are shutting down what gives the youths some level of livelihood, and when this happens, they go and start destroying installations, Ogun said.
Opposing the motion, a lawmaker from Lagos, Rotimi Agunsoye, said that the issue is for the judiciary and the House has no business looking into it. “If they have any problem with government, they should go to court. The motion should not come here, Agunsoye said.
Another lawmaker from Lagos, Rita Orji, however, disagreed with Agunsoye. She argued that there is need to probe the matter to hear both sides.
“If you want to terminate a contract, there are ways of going about it. I’m supporting the investigation – we are talking about 7,000 workers and we complain about unemployment.
“Do we have a Nigerian company that makes s ready to take over what INTELS is doing? We should hear both sides so that there will be a fair hearing on both sides, Orji said.
The motion was adopted by the House after the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote. The committee is expected to submit its report in two weeks time.