By Patience Danjuma
The House of Representatives has resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to probe the termination of the contract between INTELS Nigeria Limited by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Discussing the development on Wednesday, the lower legislative asked the government to return to “status quo” to avoid “injury” to the workers of the company.
This is coming about the same time the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) appealed to the Federal Government to resolve its dispute with the oil and gas logistics giant to avoid throwing more people into the labour market.
The resolution by the House of Representatives followed a motion sponsored by Diri Douye, a lawmaker from Bayelsa.
Moving the motion on the floor of the house, Douye expressed concern that over 7,000 Nigerians work for INTELS and terminating the contract would have negative effects.
The lawmaker said there is a need to ascertain the process of termination of contracts between Nigeria Ports Authority and INTELS.
Contributing to the debate, Ekpo Attah, a lawmaker from Akwa Ibom, said the motion is important and “status quo” should be maintained.
“INTELS employs a lot of people. I submit that this motion is very pertinent and INTELS should be returned to status quo,” she said.
Opposing the motion, Rotimi Agunsoye, a lawmaker from Lagos, said INTELS should go to court to seek redress.
He said the House had no business looking into the issue.
“If they have any problem with government they should go to court. The motion should not come here,” Agunsoye said.
Rita Orji, a lawmaker from Lagos, however disagreed with Agunsoye, arguing 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,” Orji said. “Do we have a Nigerian company that is ready to take over what INTELS is doing? We should hear both sides so that there will be fair hearing on both sides.”
The motion was adopted by the House after the Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, put the motion to a voice vote.
The committee is expected submit its report in two weeks.
The President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, while speaking with newsmen in Lagos on Wednesday also appealed to government to resolve its dispute with the company.
He said the dispute could also hinder investors from coming into the country if not resolved soonest.
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) terminated its boats pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement with INTELS on October 11 purportedly for the company’s alleged failure to comply with the policy on Treasury Single Account (TSA).
According to Adeyanju, the union as part of organised labour, is concerned over the job security and welfare of its members in INTELS.
“Today, we are aware that INTELS has over 5, 000 direct employees and over 6,000 indirect employees, which makes it up to 11,000 workers.
“Most of these employees are Nigerians with families and responsibilities. We are worried that if this issue is not resolved amicably, their jobs can be on the line,” he said.
Adeyanju said that socio-economic implication of most of the workers losing their jobs in a volatile area like Rivers would have a negative impact.
He said the union was also worried over the negative message the contract cancellation would send to investors locally and internationally.
“We want to advise the government to avoid anything that will send wrong signals to investors that Nigeria’s environment is not safe and conducive for business,” the union leader said.
The MWUN President-General appealed to the government through the NPA to resolve the issues soonest to ensure that calm was restored at the ports.
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