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Labour lauds FG for halting sale of refineries

Abuja — The organised labour, yesterday in Abuja, commended the Federal Government’s decision to shelve the sale of the country’s four refineries.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Alhaji Mohammed Barkindo, had hinted of plans to shelve the sale on Friday while speaking at the launch to reform the nation’s downstream sector.

General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Mr John Odah, who spoke in Abuja said: “it is a welcome development.”

Odah said the NLC would have continued to oppose  the sale of the refineries if the government had gone ahead with the plan.

He said the congress had maintained the call on the government to play an active role in the management of the downstream sector.

“This has been our position, that the Nigerian government must play an active role in the service sector of the petroleum industry and one of them is ownership of the refineries in the country.

“This is to enable the country to produce enough refined products to satisfy internal consumption.”

General Secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, Mr Bayo Olowoshile, who also spoke, said: “It was high time the government went along with the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians.”

He said the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, pending in the National Assembly, was aimed at repositioning and refocusing NNPC in line with what obtained in the OPEC family.

He said the OPEC family had now appreciated the need to play very significant and prominent role in the oil and gas sector of their various countries.

“We are not just people who are taking taxes and royalties; we must participate effectively in oil production in our country and ensure that we optimally utilise our hydrocarbon endowments.

“That is what government is thinking now, so it all goes to the fact that our refineries must remain, we must re-strengthen them, we must empower the refinery managers to ensure that the refineries operate to functional optimality.

“And so the government is thinking rightly by going along with the dreams and aspirations of Nigerians,” he said.

Olowoshile further explained that the aspirations of Nigerians had never been to sell the country’s assets or refineries.

According to him, it is to build the capacity of the oil sector to ensure backward integration and diversion of its hydrocarbon endowment to other sectors of the economy.

“So we are really supporting this move because it is exactly the dreams of Nigerians and it will ensure employment for the masses,” he said.


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