No fewer than 20,000 jobs that are currently in the service of INTELS Nigeria Limited are on the risk, as the rift between the oil and gas logistic giant and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) lingers.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman had recently directed that every terminal in the port was free to receive any cargo as far as it has the technical competence to handle such goods.
INTELS had in a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/417/2017 at the Federal High Court Abuja, protested the directive, asking the court to, among other reliefs, issue an order stopping the NPA and other defendants from implementing the new policy.
As the rift lingers, stakeholders have expressed worries that the face-off might lead to loss of over 20,000 job currently in the service of INTELS, if the Federal Government does not take an urgent step to intervene in the matter.
National President, Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, who expressed displeasure about the situation, said it was unfortunate that a simple business disagreement, which could have been amicably resolved “at the coffee table” was allowed to degenerate to the point where more than 20,000 jobs are on the line.
Onyekazi said: “INTELS is a major operator in oil and gas, maritime and real estate industries. It is one of the largest employers of labour in the country and in the Niger Delta region. It should therefore concern any well-meaning Nigerian that NPA is unable to amicably resolve and manage its differences with such organization.
“We have also read that INTELS is being persecuted because of its perceived links to a top politician in the country. This political dimension to the entire saga makes the intervention the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo imperative.
“We do not think that companies operating in the country should be subjected to political persecution especially at this time when the Federal Government is pushing hard for peace to reign in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
According to him, the competition for oil and gas logistics is international and the loss of business by INTELS is the loss of business by Nigeria.
“It is an exercise in delusion to think that there is any other facility in-country that can provide the type of services INTELS is providing to the oil and gas sector. The oil and gas majors will simply move to Angola, Sao Tome and Principe or South Africa to enjoy the kind of services they enjoy at INTELS if it is no longer in position to provide such service. The implication of this is huge revenue loss to the country and loss of jobs in the Niger Delta region,” he said.
The NIIA President also called on the Federal Government to provide palliative measures to cushion the effect of Ijora-Wharf road closure for one year on port users. While commending the government for deeming it fit to repair the Ijora-Wharf Road, which he said has been abandoned for several years, he said the same attention should be given to the Port Harcourt Port and Onne Port access roads.
Meanwhile, Senior Legal Manager of INTELS Nigeria Limited, Dominic Onwuchekwa, has stated that the proposed de-categorisation of the terminals will not only jeopardise the prospect of the company recovering its investments under the concession agreement signed with the Federal Government, but that it will also undermine the commitments made to its lenders.
He said in discharging its obligations in accordance with the terms and conditions of the various Lease Agreements (including the Concession) with the Federal Government, INTELS has expended over $2 billion out of its own resources without amortization in various projects and has budgeted additional $5 billion in phased Port Terminals development and infrastructural renewal.
It may be recalled that Justice A. R. Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja last month issued an interim order directing the Nigerian Ports Authority and four others to maintain the status quo in a suit filed by INTELS Nigeria Limited on the de-categorisation of terminals at the nation’s seaports.