- American Oil Firm Accused of Violating Local Content Act
Some Nigerians working with an American oil and gas service firm, Weatherford International, have raised the alarm over gross abuse of local laws and sharp practices being perpetrated by the Nigerian subsidiary of the company, Weatherford Nigeria, against them.
A source at the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the firm has carried on with many anti-Nigerian policies such as mass sack on flimsy excuses and appointment of a foreigner as Country Manager in clear violation of Nigerian Local Content Act, which is one of the significant developments aimed at localising management and control of oil and gas industry.
The source said apart from the fact that there were many qualified Nigerians capable of running the firm as Country Manager, the foreigner who was appointed, Manuel Hernandez from Venezuela, came into Nigeria via Business Visa and has been working as an expatriate without the necessary work permit.
Going down history of the firm, the source said a Nigerian, Femi Thomas was appointed as Country Manager of the company and was there for about two years before he was redeployed as Vice President for Africa, while another Nigerian, Femi Akarikiri, was appointed to succeed him, only for the said Akarikiri to be demoted after just a year in office and replaced with Hernandez.
According to the source, “The first issue is that this is not an industry where you can claim there are no qualified Nigerians for the job because oil and gas industry in Nigeria is fully sophisticated. Number two is that for the fact that you have had Nigerians in that position, the position has been nationalised and so you cannot go back and revert to say that you now need to bring an expatriate.
“The third issue is that you lay off a lot of Nigerians because you claim the industry is bad and you have no money to pay but yet the question is how can you afford to pay expatriates if you have laid off Nigerians who earn a fraction of what the expatriates earn?
“By the time you look at that picture, what you see is a company that does not have any commitment to Nigeria or any respect to the ideals of the country. They want to get paid, they want to drill for oil, they want to make money, but where is the growth for Nigerians in that process? The average Nigerian employee in the company earn less than $1,000 a month, but the average expatriate earns $20, 000 a month or more. How can you afford one expatriate if you lay off Nigerians on the basis that you can’t afford to pay them,” the source queried.
Already, the source said the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) had been notified of the development, but that there was great need to raise the alarm over the mass sack of over 100 Nigerians and other deliberate plot of the company against Nigerians for prompt action by the Nigerian government and other key stakeholders.
Another credible source, who equally does not want to be named, said as part of the plot to sideline Nigerians from the management of the company, the said Akarikiri was demoted from Country Manager to sales role in a market where there is nothing to sell, adding that the development was purely orchestrated to eventually fire him.
He added that in another scheme to disguise the actual intention of sidelining Nigerians in the affairs of the company, a Nigerian who was on international assignment in Ivory Coast was brought in on the promise of being attached to the said Hernandez, but he was surprisingly moved to Port Harcourt and put in a lesser role from what he was doing in Ivory Coast.
He said the expatriates that were purportedly fired alongside Nigerians were offered jobs in other countries, while Nigerians were left with nothing.
“The truth is this same company has been sued in the past by former directors for sham board practices and as we speak, there are a number of others contemplating suing them. Well meaning Nigerians should be careful of doing business with them and they should not be allowed to continue to benefit where they are shortchanging Nigerians,” the source said.
As at the time of filling this report, several calls made to the Company Secretary/Legal Counsel, Lara Falashe and text messages for reaction were unanswered, while the calls were not returned.
COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations
African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations
African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.
He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.
He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.
“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.”
He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.
China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations
China Calls for China-U.S. Relations
Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.
Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.
Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.
Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.
Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.
“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.
“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”
Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.
Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.
The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns
U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.
The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.
“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.
Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.
Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.
Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.
Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.
The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.
Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.
In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.
In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.
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