The Senate Committee on Local Content has threatened to sanction the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Festus Keyamo, over their failure to appear at an investigative hearing on diving operations in the oil and gas industry.
It also threatened to sanction the managing directors of international oil companies (IOCs) in Nigeria for the same reason.
The IOCs MDs include ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron.
The chairman of the committee, Teslim Folarin, said this at the hearing on Thursday after they all failed to show up for the event which was meant to review the challenges experienced by diving operators in the sector.
The invitation followed a debate on a motion on the urgent need to ensure strict compliance with statutory regulations and provisions on Nigerian diving sector.
Part of the Senate’s resolutions during the debate was to urge the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment to inaugurate the diving advisory board to ensure regulations of the diving sector.
“The committee had invited the managing directors of IOCs.
“It had also urged the committee to investigate claims of contravention of relevant statutory provisions in the area of diving in the oil and gas sector,” Mr Folarin told journalists.
Although none of the ministers of Labour and MDs of IOCs were in attendance for the hearing, representatives of the various MDs and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and Productivity represented their principals.
The panel, however, described the absence of the invitees as unacceptable and said the committee would not take presentations from the representatives.
They were asked to excuse the panel and other attendees, noting that their principals must appear before the committee.
“What is surprising is that we invited the managing directors and that is the normal practice here in National Assembly. We will invite them again and if they don’t come, we will have to invoke our sanctions,” Mr Folarin said.
A new date, he said, would be slated for the hearing.
There are allegations that foreign dominance have deprived indigenous divers their rightful place in the sector, against the provisions of the law – hence the hearing.
The motion had stated that Section 28(1) of the Act was not complied with. The provisions accord Nigerians first consideration for employment and training in any project executed by any operator in the oil and gas industry.
It also faulted the Ministry of Labour and Employment for failing to inaugurate the Divers Advisory Board in line with the provision of the Diving at Work Regulations, 2018 to ensure that the operations of the sector is properly regulated in view of it’s strategic importance to the oil and gas sector.