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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Indigenous contractors resist divestment, threaten to seize all Agip facilities over debts

Indigenous contractors to Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) have kicked against the ongoing acquisition of the company by Oando and threatened to occupy all facilities belonging to Agip in the Niger Delta over contract debts.

The contractors said it would be inhuman and lack of global best practices to allow the deal to sail through without settling all debts owed them by the company.

Bonny Crude Oil Export Terminal
Bonny Crude Oil Export Terminal

The contractors, under the auspices of Coalition of Indigenous Contractors of Agip (CICA), wondered why Agip would embark on such a deal without first discussing the modalities to pay all their outstanding debts.

CICA, in a statement on Sunday by its Chairman, Ifeanyichuku Olisa, and Secretary, Chief Felix Alumona, lamented that Agip owed its members huge amount of money for jobs they did for the company.

The contractors called on President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to wade into the transaction and ensure that all outstanding debts were paid before the conclusion of the acquisition.

They also appealed to security agencies to prevail on Agip and NNPC to settle the outstanding debts to avoid compelling host communities and other affected stakeholders resorting to self-help.

The contractors said: “We recently heard that NAOC has been acquired by Oando and the acquisition process is ongoing.

“Whilst we hold no objection to the purported acquisition, we are concerned about what happens to the monies NAOC owes all its contractors?

“It is also worrisome to hear from NAOC that the other joint venture partners, NNPC and OANDO, have not consistently remitted their joint venture contributions, cash calls, which invariably has led to humongous sums of money being owed to local contractors, comprising landlords to NAOC facilities, service contractors and general contractors, who provide services to NAOC”.

The contractors said some of the debts had been owed since 2020, adding that loans were obtained from the banks by contractors to execute the jobs.

CICA said: “What becomes of the monies being owed these contractors, many of who sought bank loans and invoice discount facilities, and now at serious risk of severe financial losses.

“We call on our ever listening President Bola Tinubu to prevail on NNPC and OANDO, to as a matter of save our soul (SOS), intervene and save NAOC contractors from financial losses.

“Government regulatory agencies as well as all security agencies should please prevail seriously on NNPC/OANDO to please save the contractors from impending calamity and to forestall landlords and host community contractors from resorting to self-help which will include, but not limited to, ensuring the stoppage of all NAOC operations in our host communities”.

Although NAOC officials declined comments on the development, a Spokesperson at Eni, the Italian parent company to NAOC, pledged to revert with a response but has yet to done so.

By Nathan Nwakamma

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