Exclusive! Recruitment scandal hits Exxonmobil, asks politicians for candidates

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Hope of poor Nigerians to secure jobs in blue chip organizations may have become dim as an International Oil Company, Exxonmobil now writes legislators and big wigs to present candidates for employment in the company.

Gavel International exclusively got one of such letters written to a member of the House of Representatives, Honourable Rudolph Brown of Rivers State, by an International Oil Corporation, Exxonmobil, wherein the company asked him to present a candidate for employment. The letter dated October 16, 2017 reads:

“Dear Honourable, We wish to inform you of current career opportunities that exist within Exxon Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (EEPNL) one of Exxonmobil’s subsidiary companies in Nigeria.

EEPNL is currently seeking to recruit exceptional individuals as supervisors to support its marine operations. Details on criteria and recruitment for participation in the process are on the attached advertorial, which was published in major national newspapers on Wednesday October 11, 2017;

Paul McGrath, Managing Director, Exxonmobil Nigeria

As a key stakeholder in Rivers State where Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited has operations, we believe you may wish to bring information about these opportunities to the attention of qualified persons within your constituency.

Interested and qualified constituents are expected to apply not later than Wednesday October 25, 2017, when the application process closes.

While we look forward to mutually beneficial relations for the development of Nigeria, kindly be assured of our continuous high regards”.

The letter was signed by Nigel Cookey-Gam, Manager, Government and Business Relations.

Letter written by the company to Hon Rudolp Brown of Federal House of Representatives

In December last year, Exxonmobil had laid off 150 of its Nigerian staff, many of whom were in the medium, and senior managerial cadre. In their places, the  oil giant brought in American and European citizens to take the vacated jobs. This is still a major controversy within the company as PENGASSAN, the umbrella union for senior workers in the Petroleum Industry is still fighting to their members back. The matter became so controversial that the corporations former country manager, Nolan O’Neal had to embark on self -retirement, three years before his tenure was supposed to end in Nigeria.

Exxonmobl’s letter to Hon. Brown is against the  spirit and letter of its own rules as published on its website. It is this published rules that guides its employment policy in its home country, United States of America and its other outposts across the globe. In its website, Exxonmobil stated its Equal Employment Opportunity Policy thus:

“It is the policy of Exxon Mobil Corporation to provide equal employment opportunity in conformance with all applicable laws and regulations to individuals who are qualified to perform job requirements. The Corporation administers its personnel policies, programs, and practices in a nondiscriminatory manner in all aspects of the employment relationship, including recruitment, hiring, work assignment, promotion, transfer, termination, wage and salary administration, and selection for training. Managers and supervisors are responsible for implementing and administering this policy, for maintaining a work environment free from unlawful discrimination, and for promptly identifying and resolving any problem area regarding equality”.

The company also expressed part of its ethics policy is to “foster a work environment free from sexual, racial, or other harassment”. It remains to be seen if the company have adhered to its own rules as it concern her Nigerian employees and also the laws of Nigeria as a host country.

When contacted to clarify the issuance and meaning of the letter, Oge Udeagha, Manager Media and Communications confirmed that the letter was one of the several written to community leaders  by the corporation.

She said: “We confirm that the letter under reference is one of many that we wrote to government and community leaders of our neighboring communities. It is a way of spreading the information on vacancies to these communities. As stated in subject letter, ALL positions available in our organization are advertised in the major national newspapers, with explicit application instructions that must be followed by all interested candidates. We remain committed to transparency and integrity in all aspects of this competitive recruitment process”

When contacted, the chairman of PEGASSAN, Exxonmobil Branch, Mr Obey Razaq said that he could not speak much on it since he just got elected recently as the chairman. He however acknowledged that a lot of things are wrong within the corporation which members of his executives are addressing. “This issue on hand is one”, he said, adding that members of his executive are engaging the management of the corporation “in house” with the hope that many of this issues are resolved amicably.

Mr Razaq said his first focus is for the company to call back those that were sacked in December last year. He said it would be an anomaly to sack some people that has put so much to the work and now be asking politicians to submit names of their candidates for the same job. He is however confident that most of the controversial issues will the resolved amicably with the management.

Is it legal for a company operating in Nigeria to embark of this type of selective employment drive? Yinka Olujimi, a lawyer and senior journalist believes that it not a legal issue. “It is more of a moral issue as Exxonmobil is a private business organization and not a public or government entity. “There two rules that guides recruitment process. These are private labour law and public labour law.  Under the Public Labour Law, the public can hold companies owned by government to account of recruitment issues. It this regard, recruitment, discipline and sack of workers are under the Civil Service and there are procedures to be followed;

However, under Private Labour Law, a company determines who and the process it wants to follow concerning recruitment of staff. Under Private Labour Law, you cannot force a will worker on an unwilling employer. At the same time, you cannot force a willing employer on an unwilling worker. The company therefore is at liberty to recruit whoever it wants”.

Since the issue is not legal, Nigerians from poor homes, who has no godfathers to plead their cause and who had hoped to get jobs in the corporation are the eventual losers.

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