Wednesday, March 9, 2016 9:49 am
There was no prior warning about the strike said to have been ordered by the two oil unions, NUPENG and PENGASSAN.
Workers reported for duty at the headquarters in Abuja today, only to find their offices under lock and key. It was like a coup plot. It was not clear if the strike would affect Nigeria’s oil export terminals.
But the refineries have been shut down by the workers.And NUPENG workers will not lift petrol to retailers, worsening shortages.
The unions are said to be protesting against the unbundling of the corporation ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday. Sources said their grouse was that they were not carried along in the unbundling process as there a lot of labour issues, such as pensions, that needed to be resolved.
The re-organisation was announced by Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state and group managing director of the NNPC.
The new units are Upstream, Downstream, Gas & Power, Refineries, Ventures, Corporate Planning & Services and Finance & Accounts. They will run independently.
With the announcement of this new policy road map, the realigned NNPC comprises of five business-focused and two service driven units.
The chief executives of the new units are: Bello Rabiu (Upstream); Sa’idu Mohammed (Gas and Power); (Anibor Kragha) Refining; Henry Ikem-Obih (Downstream); Dr. Babatunde Victor Adeniran (Ventures).
Others are Isiaka Abdulrazaq (Finance & Accounts) and Isa Inuwa (Corporate Planning & Services).
Inside sources said the NNPC has not really been unbundled technically and legally, as the Act setting up the 39 year-old organisation will need to be amended.
“As it is, NNPC remains, nothing has really changed”, said a source.
Hints of trouble were given on Monday, when the acting general secretary of PENGASSAN threatens that the union will stoutly oppose the unbundling.
Lumumba Okugbawa said the move was capable of sending a wrong signal to the investment world.
“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.