The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have expressed concern over the increasing job losses in the oil and gas sector and the closure of international oil companies.
Addressing reporters after its Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Lagos, its National President, Comrade Igwe Achese, noted that Labour and Employment Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige’s, assurances that there was nothing reassuring in job cut would stop.
The union urged the Federal Government to prevail on international oil companies (IOCs) country to stop the retrenchment.
Achese said the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) was majorly responsible for the rot in the industry and the slide in the returns accruable from investments by successive governments and investors.
He called on the National Assembly to expedite parliamentary actions for speedy passage of the bill for the purposes of engendering transparency, accountability and commensurate returns in the operations of the oil and gas sector.
He said the union believed that passing the bill will further enhance the visibility and attractiveness of the sector to both foreign and local investors.
On the privatisation of the refineries, Achese said: “The CWC-in-Session notes the current calls and agitation by some interested capitalists for the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries.
“We kick against such moves and advise the Federal Government to sincerely do the Turn-Around-Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries and upgrade their systems in order to allow them produce at full capacity. The CWC believes that this will go a long way to reduce the massive importation of petroleum products into the country.”
Achese also explained that the CWC-in-Session called on the Federal Government to grant tax holidays and free land for investors, who want to establish private refineries.
He commended the Federal Government’s position to encourage operators of illegal refineries to be integrated into the establishment of modular refineries.
He advised that the pronouncement should not be political, but matched with actions to train the refiners and put appropriate policies and regulations in place to regulate their operations in order to protect the eco system from possible negative effects of their activities.
“We further urge the Federal Government to support the refiners with funds necessary for effective and efficient modular refineries, which we believe will go a long way in supporting the supply of petroleum products for local consumption and also generate employment opportunities for the restless youths,” he said.
Achese lamented that the economy was still generator-driven; adding that power sector privatisation has failed.
The Federal Government, he said, should put pressure on the electricity generation and distribution companies (GENCOs and DISCOs) to be alive to their responsibilities or have their licenses revoked.
The union lauded the Federal Government’s efforts at addressing inflation.
“The CWC x-rayed the state of the economy and commended the government in its efforts to shore up the naira against the dollar and the drop of the inflationary rate to 17.5 per cent.
“The session, however, stated that a lot still needs to be done to address the current recession and reduce the hunger in the land. The CWC-in-Session wants the Federal Government to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and hunger in the land.”
NUPENG added that the government should vigorously address the issue of rising cost of goods and services.
“The CWC-in-Session called on the Federal Government to look inward and put structures and strategies to restructure the economy.
“The Session wants the National Assembly to quickly put finishing touches to the budget so that it can be passed and assented by the President, so that the liquidity squeeze can be addressed and debts owed contractors paid after verification,” Achese said.