It was gathered that the House of Representatives committee on local content has decried the non-patronage of qualified Nigerians in the oil and gas sector.
Chairman of the committee, Mr. Emmanuel Okon, spoke on the issue during a stakeholders meeting on expatriate quota in the sector. He remarked that most oil firms have no quota approvals for the expatriates working them.
He further stated that findings by the committee indicated that some of the firms engaged expatriates that are not qualified to work in the oil and gas industry against the dictates of the Nigerian Content Development Act 2010.
According to him, the situation is worsened by the fact that Nigerians recruit unqualified foreigners to man the borehole, quarry and plastic industry.
He identified the refusal by foreign oil firms to give full and fair opportunities to Nigerians, ignoring provisions for first consideration for employment and training for the country’s citizens as well as the non-siting by most of the companies of their offices in communities of operation as some of the noticeable infractions in the industry.
The committee would leave no stone unturned to correct the anomaly, he said, adding: “It is worthy to point out that when these companies violate the laws, they do it flagrantly because they have high profile lawyers in their payroll who advise them to go to court on their behalf to protect their interests.
“Consequently, they believe that they can do anything and get away with it. Furthermore, the committee also observed that their workers are denied rights of association. They are expressly barred from any form of unionism. As a result, they cannot articulate for their rights as a group because they do not have effective leadership. Any attempt to demand for their rights, they are unceremoniously fired, sometimes without pay.”
Two members of the committee, Nasiru Baballe Illa (Taruani, Kano, APC) and Ogun Sergius Osaesochie (Esan, Edo, PDP) contended that compliance with the local content law would drastically reduce the spate of vandalism of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.
Sergius who recalled how he was denied contract job with an oil firm years ago noted that it would be in the best interest of the country if the companies engage the services of qualified Nigerians within their operational areas.
Ila who spoke in the same vein argued that one of the reasons for youth restiveness in the Niger Delta was because foreign oil firms had not been complying with the local content act.