Intels Atiku's company apologises to FG over NPA deal

The company's founder and majority shareholder has promised to comply with the directive of government.

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Gabriele Volpi

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Co-owner of maritime logistics company, Intels Nigeria Limited, Gabriele Volpi, has apologised to the Federal Government for the public fallout over the termination of the company's pilotage agreement with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

The Federal Government had directed Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman to terminate the deal in a letter communicated through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, on September 27, 2017.

After the cancellation of the deal, Intels, co-owned by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, initially expressed its disappointment with the handling of the process and threatened to initiate legal actions.

Describing the termination as 'clearly preposterous' the company also threatened to reconsider its planned "investment for the largest African port in Badagry, for an amount of several billions dollars".

In the letter sent to the NPA by Intels' Director, Silvano Bellinato, the company gave Bala-Usman seven days to initiate renegotiation of the deal to something mutually beneficial.

Volpi, who is the founder and majority shareholder of the company, has calmed the situation by apologising for the company's part in the public spectacle and promised to comply with the directive of government.

While speaking to ThisDay on Thursday, October 19, he said, "We want to apologise to the federal government and NPA over this disagreement with Intels. I was not personally involved in the negotiations with NPA, but we apologise for what has happened.

"We intend to comply with the directive of government and transfer all the revenue to the TSA because we are a law-abiding company."

He also assured the government that the company remains committed to the Badagry port it had earlier threatened to terminate.

He said, "We are committed to co-operating with the government and NPA in the development of Nigeria's maritime sector and this includes the Badagry deep seaport.

"The Badagry deep seaport is a massive undertaking which will cost billions of dollars and will be the biggest in Africa and would turn Nigeria into a regional hub for ships bringing goods to the continent.

"It will also help to move a lot of shipping activities at the Apapa and Tin-can Island ports and help to decongest Apapa, so we are serious about our investments in Nigeria."

On Wednesday, October 18, the House of Representatives had ordered an immediate reversal of the termination of the contract while an ad-hoc committee conducted its investigations to ascertain if due process was followed before the termination of the contract.

ALSO READ: Atiku-owned Intels fights back on NPA's agreement cancellation

The cancellation of the agreement is expected to cost Intels millions of dollars as some have interpreted it as a calculated move against Atiku who is expected to contest for the 2019 presidential elections as a potential opponent for President Muhammadu Buhari.

The deal had meant that Intels collected required pilotage fee from ship owners on the NPA's behalf and retained 28% of the revenue as commission for the services rendered.

The AGF had told Ms. Bala-Usman that the agreement runs counter to the Nigerian constitution especially with the implementation of the government's Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

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