BY CLARA NWACHUKWU
OIL workers’ unions have defended the management of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, against allegations of recklessness in expenditures, saying that it has been very prudent.

Rather, the oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, PENGASSAN, and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, argued that the oil and gas industry regulator is judiciously utilizing the meager revenues being provided by the Federal Government in performing its roles of monitoring and supervising activities in the industry.

The Chairman of PENGASSAN, DPR Branch, Comrade Isah Ibrahim, who read the communiqué on behalf of the unions, who met recently in Abuja to deliberate on allegations of reckless spending, said the DPR had even gone further to increase its revenue generation capacity by 31.1 per cent in 2010.

Ibrahim said revenue generation rose to N165.65 billion or 31.1 per cent over the N532.78 billion recorded in 2009.

Besides, he added, the regulator also recorded surplus revenues above targets of N328.58 billion in 2009 and N494.55 billion in 2010, saying that N532.78 billion and N698.42 billion were realised respectively.

According to him, these represented a surplus of N204.20 billion and N203.87 billion above targets for 2009 and 2010 respectively.

“It clear from the performance above that the DPR is not reckless, and we observe with dismay the recent negative reports in the media on the activities of the DPR. “While the unions are not joining issues, the negative reports in the media is not true as it is clear from the performance recorded during the period of 2009 and 2010 that the DPR is not reckless in spending,” he lamented.

As a result, he said that “PENGASSAN and NUPENG DPR Branch are using this forum to state emphatically that all the allegations against DPR are baseless, malicious and unfounded.”

Ibrahim noted that the DPR is grossly underfunded despite the huge funds it generates for government, and relied on government appropriations to sustain its operations.

Furthermore, he said the agency has been battling with inadequate manpower, inadequate facilities and equipment to efficiently and effectively carry out its statutory functions as the Oil & Gas industry watchdog.

Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the union chairman noted that the country has enjoyed relative sanity in the industry’s businesses such as averting products adulteration, diversion, hoarding, profiteering, and most importantly, ensuring that Nigeria is not short changed at the crude oil export terminals.

He explained that the DPR was statutorily set up by Act 33 of 1977, to supervise and regulate all the activities in the Oil and Gas Industry in the country.  It also generates revenue on behalf of government through royalties, petroleum profit tax, penalties, licenses and permits, signature bonuses and a host of others.

To improve the performance of the agency, the unions called on the National Assembly and the Executive to collaborate and ensure the speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB as conceived by the Oil and Gas Implementation Committee, OGIC report.

The PIB is targeted at making the industry more transparent and more proactive, in line with global developments.

The unions argued that the passage of the bill most importantly would enable the country to realise its full potential in the sector while also encouraging greater indigenous participation and revenue generation, as petroleum is the mainstay of the economy.

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