PENGASSAN moves against expatriate quota abuse in oil industry

on   /   in Sweet Crude 12:06 am   /   Comments

Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG

PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has directed all its branches in Nigeria to engage their managements over the unprecedented engagement of expatriates through all manner of guises into the Nigerian oil and gas sector, in apparent move against alarming influx of expatriates.

Sweetcrude gathered that the directive became necessary after PENGASSAN discovered that oil companies have been undermining the Nigeria Content Act, where the number of expatriates (foreigners) working in Nigerian oil and gas sector is increasing by the day instead of decreasing.

It was gathered that, angered by the influx of the expatriates, PENGASSAN because of seriousness of the abuse of the Content Act, in the letter to its branches, copied the Ministers of Labour and Productivity, Petroleum and Interior.

Decrying the regulated influx of foreigners into the nation’s petroleum industry, National Industrial Relation of Officer of PENGASSAN, Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu, said “a report issued in October 2010 has it that expatriates constitute a third of the workforce in the oil sector. One can only imagine the actual number now?

“When a foreigner comes to a developing country like Nigeria, he is called an expatriate irrespective of his professional standing, but when a Nigerian goes to Europe and America or a more developed country, he is called an immigrant. Immigrants are poorly paid. But expatriates enjoy unimaginable pay and dreamland privileges, which is very high even by the standard of their home country.”

Delivering a paper on “The Nigerian Content Act: Issues and Workers Concerns”,  2012 Port Harcourt International Oil and Gas Conference & Exhibition, PHIOG, blamed poor monitoring and implementation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Content Development Act 2010 and among others for the problem.

According to him, “It is rather disheartening that two years after the passage of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act, 2010, the country is yet to notice any positive impact of the Act. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, NCDMB, needs to wake up and aggressively pursue and deliver dividends to our people, communities and country.

“We will not be deceived by stage- managed events, adverts and proclamations. The truth is that we will continue to challenge these fictitious statistics with reality. We want to see our people being trained and assigned accountabilities in critical disciplines of the Oil and Gas Sector, not as figureheads for purpose of statistics.”

Comrade Onuegbu said another issue is the misinterpretation of the Act leading to abuse and unrestrained use of contract staffing and casualization.

He said “This is the only visible ‘benefit’ of this act today in Nigeria. This is very pathetic and contrary to the global trends in the employment in the oil and gas industry. For instance the Oil & Gas Global Salary Guide 2012 published by the Hay Group shows that the year 2011 saw a sharp rise in permanent staff as a percentage of the overall workforce.”

PENGASSAN’s Industrial Relations Officer, pointed out faulty and unpatriotic regulations by the NCDMB as part of the problem confronting the content act.

“It is very surprising and disheartening that the spirit and intent of the Nigerian Content Act is being seriously undermined by unpatriotic and illegal regulations made by the NCDMB. In fact at a recent workshop last week in Lagos, organised by NEITI on PIB, attended by PENGASSAN and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, Senator Lee Maeba, who was the sponsor of the Nigerian Content Act 2010, made it clear that the many provisions of the NCDMB Guidelines are void to the extent of their conflict with the NCA provisions” he declared.

Capacity gap, Onuegbu said, “is a major challenge to having Nigerians take up the quota allocated to them in the Act. What is the NCDMB doing to enforce the law and close the gap? Remember the Act provides that “Where Nigerians are not employed because of their lack of training, the operator shall ensure, to the satisfaction of the Board that every reasonable effort is made within a reasonable time to supply such training locally or elsewhere. Such effort and the procedure or its execution shall be contained in the operator`s E & T plan (section 30)”.

According to him, “PENGASSAN supports the Nigerian Content Act and any genuine effort to grow Nigerian content not just in the oil and gas industry, but in all other sectors of the Nigerian economy.

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