Some members of the House of Representatives have faulted the decision of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to unilaterally terminate its contract with Intels Nigeria. The House on Thursday resolved to probe the “abrupt termination of a boat pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with Intels Nigeria, a company linked to former vice president and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar.
According to them, if there were infractions by Intels, there should have been a joint meeting of both management to review the terms of the contract before the action of contract termination. Mohammed Sani Abdu (APC, Bauchi), said, “If there is a contract between two people or parties and, all of a sudden, there is a dispute, the most justifiable thing to do at this point is to go back to where you were, so that nobody is cheated, because, in the first instance, there was an agreement.
“This is the reason we are asking the government to return to status quo on this matter.” The House had, while considering a motion seeking an investigation into the contract termination by Diri Douye (PDP, Bayelsa), sought the maintenance of status quo, pending the outcome of findings by an ad hoc committee that is yet to be set up by the green chamber. Reacting to the matter, Owoidighe Ekpoattai (PDP, Akwa Ibom) said a similar action of the government, which she considered unconstitutional, had in the past caused uproar among workers of the jetty in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, where, she said, several of the jetty workers lost their jobs when the facility was moved out of the community.
Regarding Intels Nigeria, Ekpoattai said the government would have resorted to dialogue to avert the job loss that could happen if the contract termination decision was not quickly reversed. “Here, we’re talking about job loss because I have got several experiences. “When the jetty in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, was moved out of its community, it resulted in the termination of appointments of skilled and unskilled labours.
“You know, when there’s job loss, it could result in several crises like armed robberies and other forms of violence, but when people are gainfully employed, there will be a reduction of criminal activities in the country. “This time that we need peace, everything that needs to be done, would have been geared towards achieving peace. “Dialogue would have been the best thing to do at this point.
“If Intels had defaulted in its management of procedures of logistics in the shipping industry, and thus amounting to the need to terminate the contract, there should have been dialogue before the cancellation of the contract”, Ekpoattai said. The lawmaker expressed regret that the government could take the decision at a time the firm was only 17 years into the 25-year contract and had obtained $900 million loans yet to be repaid, for its operations. Concerned with the effects the government’s decision would have on investments, Henry Ofongo (PDP, Bayelsa) said the cancellation of the contract without following “laid down procedures” could scare away investors.
“We’re currently in a situation where we are looking for investors to come into the country and the ones that are already here should not be chased away. “If there is any infraction that Intels has committed, there are ways to go about it. “To singlehandedly sit down and cancel the contract that had been signed is not the right thing to do. “There are laid down procedures to follow in terminating contractual agreements, and if these procedures are not adhered to, like in this case, it will send wrong signals to investors,” Ofongo stressed. Independent
Pix: Intels Nigeria