PENGASSAN raises alarm over renewed kidnap, killing of oil workers

PENGASSAN*Demands presidential action to avoid industrial unrest

Eluonye Konyegwuaehi

14 September 2013, Lagos – UMBRELLA body for senior workers in the Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry; the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, PENGASSAN, has raised alarm that the lives and property of members and their families are no longer safe due to the upsurge in the kidnap and killing of oil workers in Niger Delta Region.

The association lamented that the increase in kidnap and killings mostly occur in Rivers State area, warning that if urgent measures are not taken to arrest the situation, the union would not hesitate to withdraw members from the region.

PENGASSAN in a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan, through its General Secretary, Comrade Bayo Olowoshile, said the International Oil Companies, IOCs, had already issued security alert and warnings to their employees over the increasing threats to workers and operations in the oil Petroleum industry.

In the petition also copied to Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Dr. Diezani Allison-Madueke, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief EmekaWogu, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Abba Moro, Minister of Interior, Director- General Department of State Security Service (DSS), National Security Adviser to the President, and the Inspector-General of Police, PENGASSAN said it was painfully constrained to draw the attention of your esteemed office to the disconcerting resurgence of kidnapping, abduction and gruesome killing of oil workers in the Niger Delta Area for which we passionately ask for your Excellency’s immediate intervention. Regrettably, we are still lamenting the seemingly uncontainable oil theft, illegal bunkering and abysmal petroleum refining which has put the Oil and Gas revenue prospects on the alarming brink with attendant deficit impact on the committed expenditure and capital projects across the various levels of Government. Sir, no players and investors will be encouraged into any unpredictable or vulnerable business environment such as our Oil and Gas Sector is once again exposed. Rather, the industry wishes to be fully reassured that the respite recorded from the re-orientation from militancy to human development and empowerment which is gathering momentum in the Niger Delta has come to stay.”

“Nothing could be more pleasing than the news that government has been able to stem the nefarious acts of kidnapping and killing of innocent oil workers who are victims in the course of doing their lawful duty. The reappearance of such traumatic and daring criminal acts would worsen the currently preconceived Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, induced slow investment climate and divestment propensity in the Sector. Recently, two contractors were taken from the creeks, the wife of an SPDC staff was abducted from her poultry farm and another staff member was abducted and subsequently assassinated while on private business. Workers’ fundamental rights to life, right to mobility and the right to work without fear of victimisation/molestation is again being challenged. Opinions are that the Federal Government and States in the Niger Delta have relaxed their intelligence, security and law enforcement responsibility that has given room to renew hostage taking for ransom.”

“With the resurging threats to the oil and gas industry, the International Oil Companies (IOCs) have issued security alert and warnings to their employees. As Labour Union, we will equally not shy away from our moral and constitutional role to direct our members to take cover accordingly. This may possibly lead to the withdrawal of service until the Government and the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies can ensure appropriate safety and security of lives as required. The Association may in the above regard have no other option than to yield to the intense pressure from our members, whose lives are at risk, to withdraw their services from the industry if the security and safety of lives and that of their families could no longer be guaranteed by the government.”

The petition added “Mr. President, as a strategic stakeholder in the oil and gas industry, we earnestly implore you to intervene by providing adequate security and safety for our members and other workers in the industry to avert an impending strike that might throw the oil and gas industry and the nation’s economy at large into crisis.”

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