The National Assembly joint committee which is investigating activities of foreign vessel owners in the country on Tuesday walked out the representatives of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency from a public hearing.
The panel threatened to sanction its Director-General, Dakuku Peterside, if he failed to honour the rescheduled meeting by appearing in person.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local Contents, Senator Teslim Folarin, and his colleague in the House of Representatives, Legor Idagbo, lamented the decision of Peterside to shun the invitation despite several reminders.
The Joint National Assembly Committee on Local Content, Petroleum Downstream, and Legislative Compliance are currently investigating the breach of Nigerian laws by foreign vessel owners in the coastal region of the country.
Reacting to the refusal of the NIMASA boss to honour the hearing, Folarin wondered why Peterside, who picked Tuesday as the most convenient time to honour the lawmakers’ invitation, having failed to honour previous appointments, should decide to send representatives.
The leader of the NIMASA team was not allowed to introduce himself before he was asked to explain his mission and on what capacity he was appearing before the panel.
Having established that Peterside would not be physically present to answer questions from the panel members, Folarin walked the agency’s members out.
Folarin said, “It is very unfortunate that men in the position of authority would flagrantly shun the invitation of the Senate. I spoke with Peterside about this event. He was supposed to come three weeks ago but he didn’t come.
“We rescheduled this event because of him. I called him and asked him to pick a date and he picked today, only for him to write the Clerk three days ago that the Senate Committee was coming to see him.
“This is an investigative hearing which supersedes any other engagement. We won’t sit here and be wasting our time. We will give him one more chance, just one chance. If he failed to honour the next invitation, we know what to do.”
Also, Idagbo, who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Local Content, while corroborating the position of Folarin, berated the behaviour of the NIMASA boss.
He said, “I think we should be ashamed of ourselves as Nigerians. A situation where invitations are sent out and all we get are excuses. I’m aware that Senator Folarin had a conversation with the DG of NIMASA and he picked this date.
“The DG went through his calendar and picked this date only for him to send representatives to us today. This committee’s invitation got first before that of the House but he chose to ignore us.
“What the DG of NIMASA should have done is to explain to the House Committee that he already had an invitation to an investigative hearing from this joint committee. He could even honour our invitation and still meet up with his appointment with the House committee.
“We cannot continue like this as a country. We sit down at the comfort of our offices and live largely. We copy what happens in other countries yet we fail to do what they do there. We fail to respect constituted authority.
“You people (NIMASA) should be ashamed of yourselves. How do we move forward as a country if we continue like this? What engagement is more important than this type of investigative hearing. This type of attitude is unacceptable.”