By Victor Ahiuma-Young
ARGUABLY, the Petroleum industry has been the main stay of the nation’s economy. Like the adage says, he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches. The oil workers over the years, have continued to bear the brunt of government policies, actions and inactions in the industry.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, outlined some of the challenges the new government of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu urgently must address to sustain and guarantee industry peace and growth of the sector.
President and General Secretary of the union, Prince Williams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale respectively, in a document among others, raised the alarm over the worsening conditions of oil workers and the urgent need for the new government to address same.
Conditions of workers
“It is very important to bring to your immediate attention the dehumanizing state of employment and working conditions of Nigerians in the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry, most especially the blue-collar workers in the Oil and Gas industry. There is increasing degeneration, indecency and precariousness of employment and working conditions in the industry. This can also be said to be one of the causes of the increasing frustration, crime, violence and restiveness among the youths who are continuously feeling alienated in their fatherland.
Local content law
“The implementation of Local Content Law which the Unions in the industry fought vigorously for in the interest of Nigerian young graduates/technicians/school leavers has been turned into cesspit of corruption with the Board’s only interest being to make more millionaires of portfolio-carrying Nigerian businessmen.
“The Board seems uninterested in addressing the crude behaviour and exploitative employment tactics of those unscrupulous indigenous employers and multi nationals who are unfortunately exploiting and turning the Nigerian local contents law into ambits of slavery and precarious employment rather than a source of fulfilling employment and empowerment for teeming qualified young Nigerians in their fatherland.
“We are urgently calling on the new administration to declare a state of emergency in the Oil and Gas sector so as to properly situate the employment in the industry in such a way and manner that will engender technical expertise and skills enhancement for young Nigerian graduates/technicians/school leavers and further help to reduce the wave of brain drain, insecurity and penchant for fraudulent activities among the youth in the country.
“It is our firm belief that Nigeria has enough human capacity to develop and enhance its technological capabilities.
Crude oil theft
“We earnestly implore the government of Asiwaju Tinubu to save Nigeria from the shame and global ridicule of open thefts and sales of the nation’s crude oil in the international markets while the country is reeling in helplessness, hardship and poverty. This administration should as a matter of urgency address this issue with all vigour and urgency.
President Tinubu needs no further introduction to the tumultuous journey that led to the eventual signing of the Petroleum Industry Bill into an Act of the Parliament by former President Muhammadu Buhari with the objectives of having a Petroleum Industry that will be accountable, rewarding and transparent in financials, governance and responsiveness to the needs and yearnings of communities and stakeholders.
“These desirable objectives can only be achieved with strict adherence in implementation to the spirit and letters of the Act. We therefore strongly plead with the President and his team to give a new narrative to wrong notions that Nigerian governments are no respecter of their laws. “