The House of Representatives Chairman on Local Content Hon. Emmanuel Ekon has made a shocking revelation showing how INTELS and other multinationals have rendered thousands of qualified Nigerians unemployed in the oil and gas industry amidst the growing recession in the country, despite the passage of the Nigerian local content law after several years.
This was revealed to our investigative reporter after the management of INTELS was summoned to clear the air on the wrongful dismissal of some Nigerian staff working with INTELS.
According to the Akwa-Ibom state born legislator, INTELS Nig. Ltd. has since been in the business of violating the expatriate quota limit as provided in our laws, but still goes ahead to dismiss some of its Nigerian staff under various controversial circumstances.
This to him is a clear case of taking Nigeria for a ride as if Nigeria is a country where anything goes. Further investigations by the Chairman revealed that INTELS have unlawfully recruited the services of foreign personnels who were not even qualified for the roles they were brought in for.
But most importantly these recruitments have been done without the approval of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), and he strongly links this action to the rising unemployment facing the country today.
According to the chairman who was terribly upset at the kind of treatment meted out to Nigerians working in most multinational companies as the case of INTELS reveals there in need to review the current recruitment structure in INTELS that places Nigerians at the bottom of the pecking order despite having qualified men and women for the same positions foreign expatriates are illegally smuggled into the country to take over the few jobs that are scarcely available.
This situation can no longer be tolerated and some expatriates have to leave INTELS not even excluding the current management team as it was the case with Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), who were found culpable in this same regards, the Chairman insisted.
Our investigations revealed that activities of this kind have been partly the reason behind youth restiveness in the Nigerian Delta Region, where kidnapping for ransom, vandalisation of critical oil and gas infrastructure have persisted over the years due to agitations by youths and groups that have felt neglected or dissolutioned by unemployment or lack of inclusion.
How can a company like INTELS bring in foreigners from Russia, the United Kingdom, Croatia to come down here to do the jobs that Nigerians can do all in the name of expatriate quota.
It has to stop because the local content law is supposed to protect the interests of Nigerians in the Oil and gas sector from this form of exploitation.
Already with this kind of action from INTELS it appears that they are not ready to carry out their operations in Nigeria hence they keep violating this law despite seven years of its enactment.
The Chairman who also claimed that these multinationals do not work in isolation as some unpatriotic Nigerians also aid them to short-change their country.
“As a Nigerian I can tell you that we are the architects of our own misfortunes, and it is similar to what you will find in several other sectors of the economy and national life.
Just as our investigation has revealed, without the aid of Nigerian lawyers INTELS wouldn’t be doing what they are doing against you and I.”
The local content act was enacted to protect the interests of Nigeria and its citizens but some of these people continue to undermine our collective efforts,” he said
We are talking about expatriate quota violations as the case of INTELS today, this has already been envisaged by the local content act, which stipulates that if you try to bring in an expatriate to work in Nigeria especially for operators in the Oil and Gas industry, the law says you must first of all apply to the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB).
Remember the local content board is the only board that had the data base of every Nigerian that has been trained in any Oil and gas related business, field or operations.
This makes it easier for the board to assist any company or organisation to identify qualified and competent Nigerians to fill any vacant position in the industry.
But what we have today as the case of INTELS reveals to us is that instead of oil companies, multinationals, servicing companies and their likes to approach the board when these needs arises, they circumvent the process and go to the Ministry of Interior which has no way to check if the expatriate are qualified for the position they are being invited for or if we have suitable Nigerians to fill the same role.
Analysts have stated that this has persistently affected Nigeria negatively because it has short-changed so many young qualified Nigerians who are graduates and have been unemployed despite being skilled in these specialised areas.
I can tell you that if this law is enforced there will be opportunities for our teaming youths to have meaningful employment in the Oil and gas sector.
With reference to Section 1 and section 6 of the local content law which is very explicit and unambiguous, it says that as from the commencement of this act regardless of any other enactment or law, the local content law supersedes any other inasmuch as it relates to operations in the Oil and gas industry.
So it doesn’t matter what laws INTELS and others may be hiding under whether it is called the free trade zone act or any other laws so long as their operations are related to oil and gas sector they must adhere to the local content law, whether you are logistics based, downstream, upstream as far as your operations is connected to oil and gas you must be subjected to the local content law.
Therefore, INTELS have to obey the law if they are to continue operations in Nigeria, the Chairman said.
Consequent upon the foregoing, a status inquiry will be commencing into the activities of INTELS Nigeria Ltd. by the House of Representatives to ensure that no organisation or individual no matter how highly placed can place itself above the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Some other members of the committee when approached to react to the issue frowned at any attempt by INTELS to feign ignorant to the local content law as the Lawmaker insisted that Ignorance of the law is never an excuse.
In this case they (INTELS) knew the existence of this law since it was enacted but they prefer to choose what aspect of the local content law they want to obey, but this has to stop now, the angry Lawmaker said.
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