The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG), takes serious exception to the comments made by the Honourable Minister of Petroleum resources, Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke that the nation’s refineries must be privatised.

The union states that the Minister’s comments are uncalled for, unnecessary and a mere diversion to the failure of the Ministry to address the perennial problem of scarcity of petroleum products currently being experienced in the country.

NUPENG adds that it will resist any attempt by the federal government to go back on agreement signed with the unions  on January 7, 2014 in Abuja that the nation’s refineries will not be privatised.  In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) reached at that meeting, the two trade unions in the oil and gas sector, NUPENG and PENGASSAN agreed with the Federal Government to engage in social dialogue to develop viable and workable business models for the nation’s refineries.   

The union makes bold to say that billions of naira had been budgeted and purportedly spent on the Turn-Around-Maintenance (TAM) of the refineries with nothing to show for it.

We state that the refineries must be rehabilitated to work optimally which will account for at least seventy percent of domestic production, instead of selling the nation’s strategic assets.  The union states that the Minister should concentrate more on how the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) should be passed so that the oil and gas market will be opened  up to enable investors come and establish more refineries and those already given licenses to come on stream.

It stresses that the quick passage of the PIB will ensure transparency and accountability and boost investors confidence, rather than allowing the current massive importation of petroleum products, which a few cabal are benefitting from at the expense of the nation.

The union believes that the transparency agenda of Mr. President on job creation should be enhanced by allowing interested investors set up private refineries, like the Alhaji Aliko Dangote example in free trade zone in Ondo/Ogun States, which will generate about 85,000 jobs.

We warn that the union will not guarantee industrial peace and harmony if the threat by the Minister to privatise the refineries is carried out by the government, when it should spear head the establishment of mini and mega refineries to complement what we already have and make sure the old ones  are rehabilitated.

The union calls on the National Assembly to quickly pass the Petroleum Industry Bill and call the bluff of the multinationals who are trying to stall its passage for their selfish ends, so that the industry can be sanitised.

Igwe Achese


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