FULL TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NUPENG, COMRADE WILLIAMS AKPOREHA, APRIL 26, 2019

TEXT OF THE PRESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSED BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NUPENG, COMRADE (PRINCE) WILLIAMS AKPOREHA, IN JIBOWU ON FRIDAY, 26 APRIL 2019.

Good afternoon gentlemen and ladies of the fourth estate of the realm, we thank you for honouring our invitation to this press conference despite the short notice.

  1. IMF POISONOUS ADVICE

As our esteemed collaborators you are already aware of our firm position on the unsolicited advice by the International Monitoring Fund (IMF) to Nigerian government which was jointly signed in a statement on Sunday April 14, 2019 by NUPENG and our sister Union, PENGASSAN.

We make bold to say we stand by our statement and further urge Federal government to heed our legitimate advice by shunning any counsel that would destabilize or cause any crisis and unnecessary tension in the economy and body politic. Again we salute you the press, our dependable partners for timely publication of our views on this matter and for giving us voice on your respective platforms.

While maintaining our uncompromising standpoint on national patriotism and also pushing for good governance particularly in the sector that affects our members and their businesses we use this medium to condemn the hoax which suggested that Federal government was planning to remove fuel subsidy.

Our over dependence on Petroleum Products importation has unfortunately made us to be very vulnerable to antics and manipulations of local and foreign manipulators. As a stakeholder in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, we are not aware of such plan. Sadly this unhealthy speculation led to panic buying and created slight hitches in the country’s downstream sector.

Thankfully, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under the capable management of Eng. Maikanti Baru proactively sustained availability of products and succeeded in stemming the tide despite the narrative of the fifth columnists.

We affirm once again that we will resist any policy that will impact negatively on the Oil and Gas Industry, the general public and the nation in general.

Consequently, NEC-In-Session, (National Executive Council of NUPENG) the highest organ of our Union on Friday April 26, 2019 requested for urgent revitalization of Nigeria’s ailing refineries to pave way for sufficient local supply of petroleum products across the nation.

NEC-In-Session also pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to use the strength of his second term in office to end Nigeria’s reliance on imported petroleum products so as to meet local consumption. As a Union, we will give the president all necessary supports required from us to put an end to this shame of depending on imported products for local consumption.

NEC-In-Session in its wisdom equally encouraged state governments from the oil rich Niger-Delta region to invest in building of oil refineries to cater for domestic, commercial and industrial use by the citizenry.

2. ANTI LABOUR POSTURES OF IOCs AND VIOLATIONS OF WORKERS’ RIGHTS

 

i. SHELL LAND LOGISTICS CONTRACTORS VIOLATION OF CBA.

As you are all aware, our mandate and mission from the inception of this regime is to project new positive image and engender industrial peace and harmony in the industry and the Country as a whole, but we are quick to state here that no one should take our new posture for weakness or abdication of our responsibilities and core mandate to our members and the union.

It is so sad and disheartening to put across to the public the flagrant violation of the rights of Contract Workers’ rights in SHELL Nigeria. The gross violation of Workers right reached an unfortunate head when SHELL Contractors brazenly refused to implement an agreement they willingly entered into with the Workers since November 2018.

It will interest you to know that, the Conditions under which these Contract Workers are working were conditions set in a CBA that expired since 2016.

We have resolved to take up this fight and we are putting the public on notice with this Press address.

SHELL Petroleum Development Company cannot feign ignorance of the inhuman conditions Nigerians are being subjected to. These Multinational Companies are appearing so big to respect agreement and statutory provisions and institutions in the Country.

We urge all patriotic Nigerians to rise up and support our struggles to earn respect for our Constitution and Institutions.

ii. NIGERIA LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS COMPANY & ITS CONTRACTORS REFUSAL TO RECOGNIZE THE UNION

It is really appalling to note that issue of freedom of association for Workers in Nigeria is an issue that some management in the Industry are resisting unnecessarily. In any decent and responsible Organization, the rights of workers to join the union and collectively negotiate their working conditions ought not to be a difficult one; unfortunately, it isn’t the case with the NLNG and its Contractors, where the matter has become an issue of litigation for the NLNG contract employees.

It is important to let you know that even after the Ministry of Labour intervention and the Court ruling in favour of the workers affirming their inalienable rights to associate and bargain collectively,  NLNG and its Contractors still remain recalcitrant. Some of these Contractors include; WAEP, MIDIS NIG LTD, RYPAC, D. A ENTERPRISE etc,

Regrettably, NLNG is still going further to circumvent the law by resorting to short term contracts of 3 to 6 months for a permanent job which has given room for high turnover of workers.

Furthermore, the Union engaged the management of Morgreen Nig Ltd, a local content company in NLNG in collective bargaining negotiation processes and after a far reaching agreement the management flippantly refused to sign the CBA documents based on the directive of their principal (NLNG). This has left the contract employees in NLNG working without any negotiated condition of service in place and with no prospect for career path.

Rather than NLNG to advise their contractors to recognize the union and engage the union on Collective Bargaining, what we see today is that any contractor whose employees opt to join the union will have their contract terminated. The precarious contract and the anti-union posture of NLNG management has frustrated the effort to Unionize and negotiate a collective Bargaining Agreement for the contract Employees in NLNG, every day Employees lose their jobs as a result of joining the Union.

It is our resolve to draw the attention of the general public to this inhuman and retrogressive treatment faced by Nigerians which is occasioned by the weak enforcement process of our laws.  Therefore the union is determined to fight these menaces and speedily restore the hope of the common man.

3      MINIMUM WAGE

We wish to commend President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly for the passage and signing into Law the new national minimum wage.

We further wish to implore all employers of Labour (Public and Private) in the Country to ensure immediate implementation of the new minimum wage.

We offer our hands of fellowship to all workers who might need support in the unforeseen situation of any employer including State governments that may be thinking of cutting corners with regards to the implementation of the new minimum wage.

We know as a matter of fact that there is no state in Nigeria that does not have the capacity to conveniently implement this modest benchmark for workers in their respective states. It is therefore imperative for the Government to focus on how to deepen good governance and restrain from fiscal wastages.

4      COMRADE (CHIEF) FRANK OVIE KOKORI NSITF’S BOARD CHAIRMANSHIP SAGA 

With no shred of doubt, the controversy surrounding the appointment of Chief Kokori as the chairman of NSITF Board and the refusal of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige to inaugurate him as the Board Chairman is unnecessary, really disturbing and of grave concerns to the entire Labour Movement in general.

We are worried and concerned with the motives and intentions of the Honourable Minister on this matter.

It is on record that for over a year after his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Honourable Minister flagrantly refused to follow through with his inauguration even in spite of all entreaties from all quarters including Comrade Adams Oshiomhole.

We are all aware of the historical and invaluable contributions of our veteran, Comrade (Chief) Ovie Frank Kokori to labour movement, political emancipation of this great country and nation building.

Comrade Kokori’s appointment as Chairman of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) by President Muhammadu Buhari is well deserved and we will not allow any individual to rubbish his contributions and place in history.

Although the inauguration has been postponed till later date, it is our belief that our veteran will be accorded this due honour as given to him by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Let it be on record that we are reaffirming our stand by resisting any attempt by the minister to secretly inaugurate the board; we will mobilize Nigerian workers to resist any attempt to secretly inaugurate the board if the minister fails to openly inaugurate the board as approved by Mr. President.

5      MAY DAY 2019

As labour correspondents, you are not unaware that Wednesday, May 1, 2019 marks the celebration of another Workers’ Day it is the Union’s desire to heartily rejoice with Nigeria’s oil and gas workers and other critical stakeholders in the industry as well as workers in general on this felicitous day that is globally and traditionally set aside to celebrate workers and their uniqueness.

It is a day with deep historical tradition that is noble and progressive in industrial relations which characterizes the struggles of workers around the world way back in May 1, 1904. This is a day where efforts of all the heroes past, who had fought for the workers of all nations to have a voice in determining the course and direction of both national and international issues affecting the state of their being, are commemorated.

NUPENG profoundly commends the perseverance, dedication, industrial cohesion, solidarity, leadership role and sacrifices of the Nigerian oil and gas workers and workers at large in accentuating growth and development for our nation.

This year’s Workers Day will also witness the unity of all Labour Centre in celebration. The celebration will be jointly carried out at the national level and in all States of the federation. This to us is a worthy development and we implore all our members to celebrate the worthy struggles of the past and present Comrades.

We shall overcome.

  1. INSECURITY IN NIGERIA 

In conclusion gentlemen and ladies of the press, Nigeria has been facing serious security challenges in the last few years, as a Union this poses a lot of concerns to us. The uncertainty and threat on general public/Investors safety and businesses is of grave concern to all and sundry.

We wonder how explosives, bombs and high damage assault rifles gained access into our country and subsequently end up in the hands of terrorist, cultists, kidnappers, armed robbers, assassins, ritualists and other criminal elements in our society.

Boko Haram alone has killed tens of thousands and have displaced over 2.3million Nigerians from their homes.

Consequently, a key issue which President Muhammadu Buhari must seriously look into is the issue of saboteurs within the brass of Military, Police, DSS, Immigration, NSCDC, Customs, etc. NUPENG therefore appeals to the President to ensure that insecurity is brought to barest minimum so that life will be more abundant and the enabling environment will be more lucrative for both local and foreign investors and compete favourably with other advanced economies of the world.

Thank you for your attention. God bless you all.

  1. QUESTION AND ANSWER
  2. End/Solidarity Song!

 

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