By Ejiofor Alike
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Local Content has said it has been in running battles with Korean firms – Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) over violations of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010.
The committee has also accused Nigerians of aiding foreign companies to flout the Nigerian content law, adding that every infraction in the oil and gas industry is aided by a Nigerian company.
Speaking at a special panel session of the Sixth Practical Nigerian Content Conference that ended recently in Abuja, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Emmanuel Ekon alleged that some of the companies have violated Section 33 of the NOGICD Act by abuse of expatriate quota.
Ekon identified HHI and SHI as the main culprits in the violation of the NOGICD Act.
According to him, Section 33 provides that the companies should seek approval from the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) before deploying expatriates.
“In the course of our oversight function of the oil and gas industry, we discover that some of these companies bring in expatriates, who are somehow not qualified to work in the industry or who do not have the requisite skills as stated in their quota,” he said.
He also alleged that in some instances, some of the expatriates overstay in their positions, which they are supposed to have relinquished to Nigerians.
Ekon said the NCDMB was empowered to have information on all the professionals working in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, stressing that approval is supposed to be obtained from the board by the companies on behalf of the expatriates.
The Committee Chairman, who was represented by his deputy, Hon. Suleiman Kwande argued that the implementation of the NOGICD Act will provide social security and dividends of democracy to Nigerians, and called for effective collaboration among the NCDMB and the Ministry of Interior to check the abuse of Nigerian Content.
The committee had visited the facilities of HHI and Samsung where Ekon condemned the two companies for their alleged flagrant abuse of the NOGICD Act.
“The Local Content Committee three weeks ago frowned at the attitude of Samsung in bringing over a hundred welders and fitters that we have in abundance here. That is a complete violation of Section 53 of the Local Content Act. The essence of our touring these facilities is to see where these companies have violated our law and then try to enforce those companies to comply with our laws,” he had said.
“We started engaging Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI). We found out that HHI violated the law by bringing in expatriates without valid papers. How they came into the country we do not know. And these are people that are coming in to take jobs who are meant for Nigerians. What we did was to invite the Immigration Services into HHI. They started their investigation that lasted about a month. At the end of it all, HHI was found guilty. As I am talking to you now, the managing director was deported last week; the country representative was deported and another officer was deported for 10 years. That means they cannot come into this country for the next 10 years. Now we have about 31 more that are working in Chevron Excravos still HHI expatriates. They are under investigation right now; their passports have been seized and by Tuesday next week, Immigration Services will also come out with result of their investigation. If they are found guilty, all of them will go the same way,” Ekon had explained.