By Victor Ahiuma-Young
FEW days ago, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, rounded off the activities marking its 40th anniversary sequel to its registration as a Trade Union on 15th August forming part of the 42 Industrial unions that came into existence in 1978 during the restructuring of trade unions.
The programme attracted stakeholders from all nooks and crannies of the country and outside the country with every speaker paying glowing tribute to NUPENG and its leaders in the past 40 years and their contributions to the socio-economic and political development of the Nigerian State.
Addressing the gathering at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, President of the union, Prince Williams Akporeha, while acknowledging the immeasurable contributions of the founding fathers of the union among others, unveiled a roadmap of what can be referred to as the NUPENG of tomorrow aimed at ensuring prosperity and good returns for everyone in the industry and beyond.
According to him: “One major hydra-headed monster we have been confronting for over two decades now is the struggle against casualisation and indecent employment in the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry. Unknown to many, NUPENG is fighting against forces bent on sending it into extinction.
Our membership has been seriously depleted due to the challenges of this anti-union employment policies of both indigenous and foreign companies. When we came on board on the 6th day of April this year, we knew the enormous challenges confronting our union, most especially with regards to the employers, government and general public perception of our powers, influence and ever constant solidarity.
Massive public image polishing and mending relationship
“We know that often, many employers are scared of relating with us and this wrong perception is sometimes responsible for the hostile attitude to our efforts in organising their employees. In the light of this, our administration will embark on massive public image polishing and mending relationship with all aggrieved stakeholders. Our new mission is to ensure prosperity and good returns for everyone in the industry. We pledge to be more cooperative and collaborative in our dealings but without compromising on the best interest of our members and global labour best practices.
“We have further resolved to be more open and engaging in social dialogue with all stakeholders. We urge everyone, government, employers and the general public to know that we are fully committed to rendering efficient, effective and public/stakeholder- friendly services to our dear country and its citizens. To make the objective realisable, we have recruited new, young, well educated, vibrant staff to meet the challenges of modern-day industrial relations practice and adequately prepare ground for tomorrow.
“We are also not in doubt about the declining revenues into the union’s coffers and the huge financial requirement needed to render qualitative and quantitative services to our members. Consequently, we have decided to diversify the sources of our income by engaging in one form of business or the other. It is our belief that this will also help in the areas of job creation and empowerment of our teeming youths.
In this regard, it’s our desire to build an ultra-modern tanker park in four zonal councils of our areas of operations in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna. We have already secured large expanse of land in Port Harcourt for these projects and other zones are in process.
“This initiative when completed, will help to create jobs for the youths, help in engendering the development of petty businesses for our women, save the state from the environmental hazards of indiscriminate parking of petroleum tankers in the country and also generate revenue into the coffers of every layer of government as each of the ultra-modern parks when completed, will accommodate parking space for not less than 1,000 petroleum trucks with accompanied facilities like hotel, fire service station, restaurants, service bay/ station and other supporting facilities.
“As we are all aware, NUPENG has comparative advantage to draw leverage in terms of engaging in petroleum marketing business, it is in our plan to build in some strategic places in some of our major cities, mega filling stations with all modern facilities.
This, we believe, will also help to reduce the pressure of job creation on the government. On taking over the administration of the union, we also observed that our national secretariat needs urgent upgrading to meet current challenges and realities as the present structure is failing and dilapidating. Therefore, we plan to bequeath a befitting national secretariat to our members. We intend to commence the process of erecting a new secretariat in a couple of months to come.”
He informed that the projects the leadership aims to use to leapfrog NUPENG into the next level, would gulp not less than N25 billion and solicited for stakeholders’ help to achieve “all these lofty and noble plans,” adding that “the realisation of these dreams will be a service to our nation and humanity in general, kindly support us generously.”