By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has told President Muhammadu Buhari, that the Union is no longer at ease with the country’s continued dependence on imported refined products, begging the president to do everything within his power to put an end to it.
This came as the Union equally informed the president that only a total overhauling and amendment of Nigeria Contents Monitoring and Development Board, NCMDB, Act will make it achieve the aim and purposes of the act.
The union also decried unabated pipeline vandalism, crude and products theft among others, pleading with the president to ensure the full completion of the much-anticipated reforms and passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the National Executive Council, NEC, members of NUPENG to President Buhari at the state house, President of the Union, Prince Williams Akporeha, among others, informed the president some of the challenges in the sector, saying “the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry has for several years now in dire need of comprehensive reforms to engender transparency, accountability and appreciable returns on investment, unfortunately, the much-anticipated reforms from the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, have been hanging in the air due to one controversy or the other. It is therefore our hope and expectation that your midas hands will reach this seemingly intractable matter and resolve it for the good of our industry and the nation in general.
“In same vein, the continuing dependence on importation of Petroleum Products for consumption in this country is really a matter of serious concerns to us. We are deeply worried and bothered that as a country and one of the largest producers of crude Oil and Gas, we are dependent on other nations to refine our petroleum products. Without any doubt, every patriotic citizen of this country should be worried. Our refineries for several part of this year have not been working, leaving our members redundant, coupled with capital flight occasioned by the importation. We are exporting jobs to countries that are refining these products for us. We earnestly urge your Excellency to rescue these refineries and make them work again.
“The ways and manner the provisions of Local Contents Monitoring and Development Act, is being executed in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry vis a vis the increasing wave of indecent and precarious employment in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry can best be described as a disappointment and inadvertently contributing to making young Nigerian graduates desperate and frustrated to the extent of embarking on suicidal migration to Europe and America.
It is worthy to note that the Unions in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry worked tirelessly to see to the passage into law of the Nigeria Contents Monitoring and Development Board, NCMDB, Act, because it was anticipated that it would aid and support the protection of the rights and job interests of Nigerian Workers.
“Unfortunately, the reverse is the situation because there is the erroneous perception that the intention of the Act is to create as many indigenous contractors as much as possible without minding the nature of jobs these contractors are giving to Nigerians. Even your executive order of Nigeria first on employment issues is being blazingly disregarded.
“It will interest you to know that, multi-national and indigenous oil companies are no longer employing young Nigerian Technical, Vocational, Polytechnic and University graduates on permanent basis. The general practice now is indecent and precarious employment. The rights, benefits and jobs security of these hapless Nigerians are being denied and violated, including but not limited to freedom to belong to the Trade Union.
“It is our prayers therefore, for your Presidential directive to ensure that a key condition in securing contracts in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry should be readiness to employ at least 75% of all cadre on permanent basis and also allow all workers to freely associate with any registered Trade Union in the Industry. We wish to further appeal to Mr President to overhaul and amend the NCMDB Act for inclusion of decent jobs and other stockholders.
“The challenge of petroleum pipelines vandalism is also of critical concern to our Union. We are seriously bothered about the quantity of products theft and its accompanied revenue loss to the nation. The act of economic sabotage called pipelines rupturing, resulting in the forceful abandonment of the country Petroleum products strategic depots is turning these places into economic deserts and further deepening the poverty levels of Nigerians.”