By, Uchechukwu Ugboaja
Following the allegations made by the lawmakers of serial and several infractions by INTELS Nig. Ltd. against the provisions of the local content law since 2010 and the urgent need to carry out a status inquiry into their operations, INTELS CEO Mr. Andrew Dawes has resigned. This development was confirmed by two Senior Management staff of INTELS Mr. David Alison and Barrister Mike Epelle who had earlier insisted that INTELS is not an oil and gas operator as assumed by the lawmakers.
Before his appointment as Chief Executive Officer of INTELS Nigeria Limited, Andrew Dawis was the managing director of Lagos based APC Miller Terminal. A man who is considered as one of the most experienced managers in the world of terminal operations and logistics having worked with several global brands in the sector for over a two decades, having held senior management positions and developed expertise in Port operations and logistics with different organisations in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Reacting to the alleged infractions by INTELS that could have obviously prompted the resignation of the CEO, the General Manager, Legal/Corporate/Contracts and Compliance Barr. Mike N. Epelle acknowledged the fact that all operators in the Oil and gas sector are to apply to the Nigerian Content Development Management Board for approval before employing expatriates, but Insists that INTELS does not belong to this category of operators as they are merely services providers otherwise known as contractors who do not have any Oil licensing agreement for production with the Nigerian government.
According to him, the act defines operators to mean the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), its subsidiaries, joint venture partners, any Nigerian local or international oil and gas company operating in the industry. So this envisages the likes of NNPC, Shell, Shevron, Mobil, Agip and every other company that has agreement for oil production those are the operators as defined by the law.
INTELS is a contractor and not an operator. So you should take note of the fact that whenever the law wants to talk about both operators and contractors it says so explicitly just as section 33 of the act limited its application to only operators which INTELS is not found within this category but not withstanding we are already complying with the provisions of this same law irrespective of our status as mere logistics service providers or contractors in the industry who do not have any Oil and gas production agreement in Nigeria. As I speak to you we have already began uploading the data of all our expatriates and subsequently biometrics capturing will be done also when we are asked to come. So we are doing everything we ought to do to ensure that INTELS is in compliance which also includes identifying certain lapses and correcting them going forward.
Barr. Epelle however Insists that there are several issues with some irreconcilable provisions of our laws over some of these matters, an example is the Free Zone Act, and I would like the legislators who are already doing a good job in this regard already to look into them to avoid this situation in the future, but I can assure you that we have already began to look into the areas of challenges being identified by the Lawmakers with a view to correcting them immediately.
INTELS Nigeria Ltd had been in the news lately for the wrong reasons one of which is the unjust and inhumane sacking of some of its Nigerian staff who were said to be members of the local union. This was partly the basis of their invitation to the national assembly to appear before the house committee on local content Chaired by Hon. Emmanuel Ekon.
INTELS has been accused of grossly violating expertriate quota for seven years since this law was passed and this has been a raging battle between INTELS and the Nigerian local content board. At the stakeholders meeting which had the Minister for Interior, Comptroller General of Immigration, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister for Petroleum, Managing Director Free Trade Zone, Minister for Labour and Productivity where an agreement was reached by all the stakeholders and INTELS is aware of this but have continued to violate the expertriate quota because it sees itself above the law especially contrary to Section 1 of the local content law which states that,
“Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Petroleum act or in any other enactment or law, the provisions of this act shall apply to all matters pertaining to the Nigerian local content with respect to all transactions or operations carried out in or connected with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry.”
Although we are yet to know who will be taking the place of the erstwhile CEO as industry observers believe that this may be the best opportunity for a Nigerian to step into that position for the first time, our investigative reporter is still making frantic efforts to reach the media team lead of INTELS Mr. Bolaji who is expected to provide further details into the reasons surrounding this new development at INTELS.