Nigerian oil workers union, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Monday opposed plans by the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) next week, describing the plan as a “display of arbitrariness.”
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had last Thursday announced at the Oloibiri Lecture in Abuja, that the NNPC would be split into five regional corporation and 30 affiliate companies as part of the ongoing restructuring at the national oil company.
Mr. Kachikwu was also quoted as saying that the positions of Group Executive Directors (GEDs) would be phased out under the new arrangement.
But oil workers are fuming over the planned arrangement and have indicated their intention to stoutly oppose the move, saying it was capable of sending a wrong signal to the investment world.
Acting General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, said the move would be tantamount to policy reversal by government.
“The unbundling plan will stave off investors from the nation’s oil and gas industry at this time when the nation needs foreign investment most to grow the industry, which currently is the mainstay of the economy,” Mr. Okugbawa said.
He accused the government of not considering existing laws establishing the NNPC before planning to unbundle the corporation.
“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, provided for in the NNPC Act of 1977. What will happen to all these provisions of the law?” the PENGASSAN official asked.
For the government to restructure the NNPC, he said the Act must either be repealed, or amended, pointing out that if this was not done, the exercise would amount to lack of respect for the rule of law.
He said the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, expected to be the legal instrument for the ongoing reforms of the oil and gas industry, would be meaningless if government introduces plans outside the reforms.
“Any unilateral statement is capable of heating up the industrial climate and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” he said.
The PENGASSAN acting general secretary called for an all-inclusive forum where all issues confronting the industry could be looked into and solutions proffered to them.