The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers on Friday faulted the now dissolved Executive Council of the Federation on the real reason behind their recent nationwide strike action.
The FEC at the end of its valedictory session on Wednesday accused the oil workers unions of using the strike to agitate for improved welfare, including demands for salaries and allowances increase for their members.
However, PENGASSAN spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojugbana, expressed disgust and anger over such insinuations, which he said was “premised on falsehood aimed at creating public disaffection against the unions and possibly incites hateful dispositions towards the (petroleum) sector.”
Mr. Ojugbana accused the government of hiding under false pretence to trivialize the pains, torture and untold hardship Nigerians suffered in recent times as a result of serious shortages in petroleum products supply and distribution.
He said the industrial action by the oil workers followed the withdrawal of services by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria two weeks earlier against the non-reconciliation of their subsidy claims.
The unions’ decision to embark on strike, the PENGASSAN secretary said, was to protest the procedure of transfering Operating Mining Lease (OML’s) 30, 34, 40 and 42 by the government.
The protest, he said, was targeted at frustrating “the immoral and improper approval” for the transfer of non-oil assets in OML 34 to ND Western Ltd, which should have been the responsibility of the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company, an NNPC subsidiary, as the operator.
He said the only offence of the oil workers was their insistence on due process in the transfer and sale of national assets in the oil & gas sector, rather than handing them over to “incompetent private individuals, government lackeys and contractors without recourse to laid down regulations and international best practices.”
Such practices, the union leader said, amounted to asset stripping, which he described as immoral and unacceptable, wondering why the oil workers should be blackmailed and called names by government for acting in the interest of the Nigerian people.
During the discussions with the Federal Government concerning the hasty transfer of the oil blocs, Mr. Ojugbana said neither PENGASSAN nor NUPENG demanded for any increment in allowance or salaries, considering that there are statutory platforms to initiate such fiscal issues.
He said the only acts of sabotage against the Nigerian people in the last two months was government’s decision to abandon the supply and distribution of petroleum products in the hands of a few individuals holding the country to ransom.
Under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, he said the administration was characterized by the absence of statutory and regulatory institutions, including extra-ministerial and boards of parastatals, despite the presence of boards.
Meetings on vital industry decisions, he said, were only held at the behest of the Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke, a development that informed the unions’ demand that supervising Ministers should be stripped of the headship of all Federal parastatals and boards.
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