The House of Representatives members have insisted that the Federal Government did not follow due process in terminating the contract between Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and INTELS Nigeria Limited.
Meanwhile, The Guardian gathered that the two parties are currently on a reconciliation course, as the Chairman of INTELS, Gabriele Volpi, had intervened in the dispute.
The House members insisted that adherence to due process requires that managements of NPA and INTELS sit together to review the contract if there were infractions, rather than one of the parties taking an action that would affect the other without consultations.
Mohammed Sani Abdu (APC, Bauchi) in a chat with journalists in Abuja yesterday said: “If there is a contract between two people or parties and all of a sudden, there is a dispute, the most justifiable thing to do at this point is to go back to where you were, so that nobody is cheated, because in the first instance, there was an agreement.
“This is the reason we are asking the government to return to status quo on this matter.”
Also, Owoidighe Ekpoattai (PDP, Akwa Ibom), said a similar action of the government had in the past caused uproar among workers of the jetty in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State.
Ekpoattai said the government would have resorted to dialogue in INTELS matter to avert the job loss that is likely if this contract termination decision is not quickly reversed.
Similarly, Henry Ofongo (PDP, Bayelsa) said the cancellation of the contract without following ‘laid down procedures’ could scare away investors.
“We’re currently in a situation where we are looking for investors to come into the country and the ones that are already here should not be chased away.
“If there is any infraction that INTELS has committed, there are ways to go about it. To singlehandedly sit down and cancel the contract that has been signed is not the right thing to do.
“There are laid-down procedures to follow in terminating contractual agreements and if these procedures are not adhered to, it will send wrong signals to investors,” Ofongo said.
Volpi, who described INTELS as a committed development partner to Nigeria, said he would do everything possible to ensure amicable resolution of the crisis.
He allayed the fears that the company would pull out its investment in the Badagry Deep Seaport project, saying: “We intend to comply with the directive of government and transfer all the revenue to the Treasury Single Account (TSA) because we are a law-abiding company.”
“We are committed to cooperating with the government and NPA in the development of Nigeria’s maritime sector and this includes the Badagry Deep Seaport.
“The Badagry Deep Seaport is a massive undertaking which will cost billions of dollars and will be the biggest in Africa and would turn Nigeria into a regional hub for ships bringing goods to the continent.
“It will also help to move a lot of shipping activities at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports and help to decongest Apapa. So, we are serious about our investments in Nigeria.”