The National leaderships of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) said they would reject any form of deregulation of the nation’s downstream sector based on importation of refined products.
The union and association in a joint statement issued in Lagos on Monday, reacting to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva’s statement on the state of the nation’s refineries, said that they would not allow any backdoor introduction of any policy be it privatization of the refineries or full deregulation of the downstream sector based of importation of refined products, stressing that the refineries must be put into functional use without further delay.
The Minister had said on a live television programme that the refineries have not been working for three years and workers have been receiving salaries and pr:omotion, that the workers were responsible for the sorry state of Nigerian refineries and have always been an impediment to make the refineries functional and economically operational.
Sylva noted that the union threatens to go on strike when the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari “threatened” to sack support staff in those refineries.
The unions described the Minister’s utterance as unfortunate.
“As a matter of fact, the Union and Association have offered several good advices on different occasions to successive Management of NNPC on how to put these Refineries in functional operations through various internal channels of communications and have generally restrained ourselves over these years from going public to wash the dirty linens of the Corporation in the public when these advices were thrown into the wasteland”.
“It’s really unfortunate that a serving Minister of Petroleum Resources could trivialize a very sensitive matter such as this that puts the livelihoods and survival of hapless Nigerian oil and gas worke6s in jeopardy at a period like this when the novel Covid-19 pandemic is rife and dangerously prowling. The Minister, who is yet to visit any of these Refineries, should note that turn around maintenance of the Refineries has not been done for many years now despite money budgeted for them every year by successive governments”, they stated.
The union noted that painting the oil and gas unions in bad light in the eyes of the public to cover up Government/Management deficiencies as captured in the video in reference is the most uncharitable thing to do on the part of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources.
“Our Union/Association take serious exception to it.Our office holders should know and strongly note that we are in a democratic setting with well-informed people and no Minister can do anything by fiat and the Union/Association will never be blackmailed by these cheap lies into
abdicating our constitutional responsibilities and obligations to our members”, they said.