19 December 2013, Lagos – The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria have said that any attempt to privatise the country’s refineries must align with the objectives of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by NUPENG President, Mr. Achese Igwe; General Secretary, Mr. Isaac Aberare; PENGASSAN President, Mr. Babatunde Ogun; and General Secretary, Mr. Bayo Olowoshile.
The workers said they were not averse to any privatisation programme involving the refineries, but inisisted that adequate industry-wide consultation with workers must be carried out before privatisation.
They said Nigerians and workers desired to be given an assurance that the intended model for privatising the refineries would be properly aligned with the PIB so that the whole PIB process would not end up being another ruse.
In view of this, both unions again vowed to reject any attempt at cornering the national assets in the oil and gas sector for the benefit of exploitative few.
They said, “Both unions wish to restate that they are not averse to any meaningful liberalisation process for the oil and gas sector, downstream and mid-stream, however, the current approach and move of the government are more of an attempt to transfer government monopoly to cartels that will dictate the market and the price of petroleum products and it leaves much to be desired.”
They insisted that nothing could be done without engaging NUPENG and PENGASSAN on the clear-cut direction of government’s privatisation model for the refineries.
Reiterating their resolve to oppose the unilateral sale of the refineries, the unions accused the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke of resentment to synergy and collaboration with key stakeholders in decision making since she assumed office.
They said some of the statements made in the last one month by the minister appeared to be an attempt to circumvent the transformation agenda of the oil and gas industry.
They said, “It is surprising to note that in the last one month, several statements have been credited to the Minister of Petroleum Resources in the local and foreign media to the effect that: The four state-owned refineries are to be privatised in the first quarter of 2014. Also, that the turnaround maintenance will be carried out before the privatisation exercise.”
NUPENG and PENGASSAN described these statements as marks of inconsistency and insincerity of purpose on the part of policy makers.
“We wish to tell the Nigerian public that TAM is a major overhauling process that goes beyond speculation and would normally take more than three months to be effectively accomplished,” the unions said.
They also frown at the statement credited to the minister that consultants had been commissioned to carry out the evaluation of the refineries in preparation for the privatisation exercise.
The unions, therefore, called for the retraction of the statements and actions so far taken by the minister. “Furthermore, we demand a joint engagement of key stakeholders on the appropriate privatisation model that would serve the best interest of Nigerians,” the statement said.
According to the unions, the unilateral action of the petroleum minister is inimical to industrial peace and harmony, and as such, the minister should engage both unions and other key stakeholders on or before January 6, 2014.