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Chris Ngige Okays Exxonmobil Sack Of Nigerian Staff, Foreign Replacement

By Femi Aribisala

IF you were to visit the Lagos headquarters of ExxonMobil (Nigeria) in Victoria Island, Lagos today, you would immediately notice that something strange is going on. You will find a number of people camped outside the building; sometimes chanting, sometimes dancing, sometimes shouting slogans. They are there 24/7; day and night. Surely, this is anomalous to the activities of an international oil company.

What is happening is that some of the Nigerian workers of ExxonMobil are protesting the sharp practices of the company. These practices should be of concern to all Nigerians because ExxonMobil’s treatment of its Nigerian staff is not only an affront to its workers, it is an affront to all Nigerians. A foreign company, however big and powerful, should not be allowed to come to Nigeria and maltreat Nigerians in Nigeria with impunity.

The affected Nigerian workers at ExxonMobil have not resorted to violence. They have sought instead legal redress. The matter has taken no less than 18 years within the Nigerian legal system. It has worked its way up from the High Court to the Appeal Court and, finally to the Supreme Court. In April 2018, the Supreme Court finally ruled in favour of the Nigerian workers and against ExxonMobil. But ExxonMobil has refused to abide by the verdict of the Nigerian Supreme Court.

Instead, ExxonMobil had the effrontery to use duplicity to sack all the 860 affected Nigerian workers, most of who had worked with the company for 22 years, and to lock them out of its building. This is a step it would not dare take in the United States after a Supreme Court verdict. But for some reason, it is confident it can get away with it here in Nigeria.
In a Statement issued by PENGASSAN chairman Rasak Obe, Obe frowned at the indiscriminate dismissal of Nigerian workers by ExxonMobil, in order to replace them with expatriates, thereby taking from Nigerians jobs they have successfully performed for decades.

The newly-recruited expatriate personnel currently engaged at ExxonMobil’s security department are mostly ex-service men. Their employment in replacement of Nigerian workers runs contrary to the directives of Nigeria’s National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPIMS, and the Nigerian Defense Ministry.

The cost of keeping one expatriate security personnel in Nigeria would pay 100 of the local security personnel currently being sacked


However, the message Chris Ngige delivered to ExxonMobil loud and clear is that it does not have to be subject to Nigerian laws. It can operate here in Nigeria as a law unto itself.

Instead of fighting for the rights of the Nigerian workers in Nigeria, Chris Ngige, the minister for Labour and Employment, is fighting for the rights of ExxonMobil, a foreign multinational in Nigeria.

On the very day my article was published last week, Chris Ngige, convened a hurried meeting of the parties in the dispute. However, rather than tell ExxonMobil it has to obey the verdict of the Supreme Court, he presented a settlement package contravening the position of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court said the Nigerian workers should not regarded as “SPY Police” but as bona fide Exxon Mobil employees. But Ngige said they should be regarded as “SPY Police.” This means they would be paid based on police or civil service structures, instead of those of an international oil company. He then gave the workers 48 hours to stop their protest before any of the so-called benefits he itemised for them can be paid.

ExxonMobil 419

On July 13, 2018, ExxonMobil took its most dastardly act. It asked the workers to gather at Victoria Crown Hotel Plaza for a meeting with the company’s representatives. When they arrived there, they were addressed by one Kayode Ashoga of ExxonMobil’s HR Department. He told them to be on the lookout for messages from ExxonMobil through their respective emails and other addresses they had given to the company a week earlier in a circulated document titled ExxonMobil Employee Data Update Form.

At the end of the meeting, which lasted less than 10 minutes, the Nigerian workers went back to their various places of work, only to discover that they had been locked out by ExxonMobil, with their personal effects and property still in the offices. In effect, the workers were deceived out of their stations and then sacked and locked out.

Similar meetings were held simultaneously by ExxonMobil in other locations, including Eket, Port Harcourt and Abuja. Over 500 ExxonMobil guards were locked out at the same time on the same day. They were all denied access to their belongings, personal effects, drugs and clothing still on ExxonMobil grounds.

The Nigerian workers have shown considerable restraint in their struggle, determined to be peaceful and law-abiding. Nevertheless, ExxonMobil still took the extra-judicial act of throwing them out like common criminals, sacking them for no justifiable reason in the attempt to circumvent the obedience of the ruling of the Nigerian Supreme Court.

Since then, the Nigerian workers have camped outside ExxonMobil House in Lagos with placards demanding that the company must obey the verdict of the Supreme Court. They are there day and night.

Source: https://opinion.premiumtimesng.com/2018/09/04/chris-ngige-fights-for-oppressive-exxonmobil-instead-of-nigerian-workers-by-femi-aribisala/

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