Chris Steven, Abuja
Oil workers,under the auspices of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(PENGASSAN) have endorsed moves by the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC).
In the abridged Petroleum Industry Bill which is scheduled for re-presentation to the National Assembly in the first quarter of 2016,it is alleged that strategies to unbundle the national oil corporation may take centre-stage in the reviewed bill.
The union in endorsing reforms in the oil and gas industry,however cautioned government not to make workers first victims in the proposed unbundling of the corporation, as it would create a ripple effect of industrial unrest in the sector.
PENGASSAN President,Francis Johnson stated his union’s position, on Tuesday, at the 4th Triennial Delegates’ Conference, holding in Abuja.
He said a memo detailing grievances of workers in the oil and gas sector would soon be forwarded to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources,Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu,noting that the proposed PIB as it is in the draft copy was anti-labour and against harmonious industrial relations.
“We welcome the plan to unbundle the NNPC as proposed in the PIB which will be represented to the National Assembly in the first quarter of 2016.
“PENGASSAN has always been in support of the unbundling of the NNPC to bring about greater effectiveness and efficiency into the system but with a caveat that this unbundling should not pose a threat to the job security of our members,”he stated.
On the issue of subsidy and controversies relating to claims payment,he said fuel subsidy can die a natural death, if stakeholders in the industry come together to find common ground on resolving the problems bedeviling the refineries.
He insisted that local refining of petroleum products and sustained functioning of the refineries,held the key out of the present quagmire of fuel scarcity and subsidy claims.
His words,”We seriously empathize with Nigerians and we use this medium to call on all stakeholders to find a forum where we can all meet and look at the best ways to resolve these issues.
“PENGASSAN believes that it would be in the best interest for stakeholders to meet and fashion out a direction than allowing the crisis of fuel scarcity to persist in the sector.
“The political situation in the country cannot also be underestimated,if all stakeholders meet, we can see how best to erase this issue of subsidy in the country,because the image of the country is being undermined,especially now that the yuletide is around the corner”.
Meanwhile,Group Chairman,NNPC PENGASSAN,Comrade Obafemi Odesanya said those in the oil industry who initially clamoured for subsidy are having a rethink.
According to Odesanya,the issue of subsidy have overstayed its welcome,especially when the elites have hijacked the process and impoverished other citizens which it was originally meant for.
“When the issue of subsidy is raised,people think that because we are comfortable as staff of NNPC, we would not welcome the idea of scrapping it,no there is germane need to remove the subsidy now.
“We say this because its no longer serving the purpose for which it was established,its supposed to go to the masses but the elites of this country are the ones enjoying it.