Worried by the flagrant disregard for the resolution of the House of Representatives via a notice for the investigative public hearing advert dated March 31, 2016, chairmen of the joint committees, Victor Nwokolo, and Oluwole Oke, unanimously directed ExxonMobil to revert to status quo as at the date of the publication, and put every fresh commitments on hold pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation.
Nwokolo, who expressed disgust over the flagrant violation of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) as well as the Nigerian Local Content Act (NLCA), queried the rationale for patronising foreign company at the expense of wholly owned indigenous company.
Speaking earlier, the petitioner, Stanford Tassie, managing director of Tilone Subsea, alleged that the logistic contract duly approved and given to his firm was unlawfully terminated by NAPIMS and given to GMT as against the provision of the Public Procurement Act as well as the Nigerian Local Content Act.
He said: “GMT Energy Resources was illegally awarded the same contract, which negates the provision of the 2007 Public Procurement Act.”
He told the committee that his company was originally given the contract for a duration of five years, which was extended by three more years and approved by the then President Goodluck Jonathan in 2010.
Tassie alleged that in that advertorial, the NNPC clearly stated that GMT vessel was used to replace Tilone, which originally handled logistics for ESSO during the drilling process.
In his presentation, Rotimi Olubeko, ExxonMobil’s general manager, procurement, however, alleged that Tilone was trying to create confusion in an attempt to either mislead the committees or misrepresent the facts as they were.
“Looking at the presentation and the contract that we know of, I’m forced to think that Tilone was talking about a different contract. I really don’t know what the $260 million is talking about. We were not awarded any contract of such nor are we aware of the existence of such contract.
“In our submission, we handled some jobs on behalf of the NNPC and NAPIMS and we delivered those jobs successful, one of which was delivered six months ahead of schedule. When Tilone wrote to us asking if we were going to activate the option of renewal as provided in the contract, we replied saying that, we will not because we had no more need for the vessel since drilling operation had stopped,” he said.
On his part, Alfred Temile of Temile Ventures told the committee that it was engaged by ExxonMobil (ESSO) and used a vessel flagged wholly using Nigeria colours.
He said the contract given was executed halfway when ESSO approached it saying that they want a renegotiation of the contract after obtaining $85 million loan facility from a bank.
He added that ESSO came back with a new offer, which the company is not comfortable with, therefore appealing to the committees to intervene as the vessel is still in ESSO’s services.
While ruling, the committee adjourned the public hearing till next week Monday.