Why NUPENG, PENGASSAN Shelved Strike | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why NUPENG, PENGASSAN Shelved Strike

Posted: Mar 11, 2016 at 1:09 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


More facts, as to why members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) suspended their indefinite strike came to the fore on yesterday.
It was gathered from an inside source who attended an all-night meeting with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, on Wednesday, that the union officials were able to extract a commitment from the minister to set up a joint committee comprising both unions and key management of the corporation to review and possibly implement their own recommendations before the unbundling could take effect.
The NUPENG and PENGASSAN officials, which included Comrade Odudu Benjamin Udofia and Comrade Salah Abdulahi respectively, were reported to have ceased the occasion of the marathon meeting to get Kachikwu’s re-assurance that no staff would be victimized or made to suffer job loss in the course of the re-organization.
“We were able to extract a commitment from the minister that no job would be lost in the process. He also assured us that a joint committee would be set up to review and implement our own recommendations,” he said
The entire nation was suddenly crippled on Wednesday, following an unbundling exercise of the country’s ‘cash cow’, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the Federal Government.
The strike, which had now been called off, had instigated serious scarcity of petroleum products in Abuja and other states of the federation as zonal offices affiliated to NNPC were also shut down.
A 10-litre gallon of fuel at the black market in Abuja went for as high as N4000, while the queue, which had formed in some stations having the product was unbearable.
Kachikwu, had on the orders of the Presidency, announced the unbundling of the Corporation into seven independent operational units.
The new units include those for Upstream, Downstream, Gas & Power, Refineries, Ventures, Corporate Planning & Services and Finance and Accounts, with a mandate that five out of the seven operational units would be strictly business-focussed in line with global best practices of national oil companies.
Government had also followed the process with appointment of unit heads, Bello Rabiu for Upstream; Henry Ikem-Onih in charge of Downstream Unit; Anibor Kragha to ovesee the Refineries Unit; Saidu Mohammed supervises Gas & Power, while Babatunde Adeniran, Ventures.
Isiaka Abdulrazaq was named the Group Executive Director in charge of Finance & Services while Isa Inuwa takes charge of Corporate Services.
It was also gathered that after the exhaustive meeting, a resolution was signed by the two parties. In view of that, the strike was then suspended.
This corroborates an earlier message posted on NNPC’s Twitter handle which announced the suspension of the strike and the readiness of both parties to resume work in the restructuring of a new NNPC.
“Sequel to exhaustive deliberations between our Group Managing Director and PENGASSAN and NUPENG, the corporate-wide strike has been suspended.
“The Group Executive Councils of PENGASSAN and NUPENG have resolved to support the restructuring and change process towards a NewNNPC,” the NNPC said Thursday on its Twitter account.
While the strike had lasted, Comrade Lumumba Okugbawa, acting General Secretary, PENGASSAN, who had anchored a minor protest at the NNPC towers, described the unbundling as arbitrariness of the executive power by the Minister.
He had alleged that the Minister unilaterally declared the unbundling of the NNPC without consultation with other critical stakeholders, including PENGASSAN and NUPENG.
Okugbawa had also hinged the shut down of operations by the staff on government unilateral decision, which he said was oblivious of the existing laws establishing the NNPC prior to unbundling the corporation.
He had equally argued that the unbundling would stave off investors from the nation’s oil and gas industry at a time when the nation needs foreign investment mostly to grow the industry, which currently is the mainstay of the economy.
He said, “There is an existing NNPC Act of 1977 that set up the NNPC. This Act has many provisions that deal with structure and operations of the corporation.
“There are many issues such as pensions and transfer of the employees, which are provided for in the NNPC Act of 1977. What will happen to all these provisions of the law?
“For the government to do anything with the current NNPC, the Act must either be repealed or amended to accommodate the planned restructuring. If not done, it will be equal to lack of respect for the rule of law on the part of the government.
“The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is expected to be the legal instrument for the ongoing reforms of the Oil and Gas industry will be meaningless if the Government should introduce plans outside the reforms, The PIB is germane to the development of the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.
“Above all, the various stakeholders, especially the unions should be involved before any major change is carried out in the organisation and before any unilateral statement capable of heating up the industrial climate is made.”