23 June 2014, Lagos – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has accused the federal government of single-handedly running the affairs of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), stating that this was the reason why billions of naira claims on subsidy for petroleum products las year cannot be accounted for.
This is as the association also accused the government of lacking the desired commitment in getting the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) passed as the National Assembly was foot dragging on the passage of the bill.
The outgoing President of PENGASSAN, Mr. Babatunde Ogun, who stated this at a press conference in Lagos, alleged that government deliberately refused to reconstitute a new board for PPPRA two years after it dissolved the board of the agency.
This, he said accounted for why it was impossible for the government to ascertain the amount of subsidy it claims for petroleum products.
“It is curious to note that two years ago, the federal government dissolved the Board of the PPPRA and have up till now not reconstituted the board. What this means is that government has decided to run this agency alone without stakeholders input. Thus, making it impossible to ascertain the amount of subsidy it claims for petroleum products. We call on the government to immediately constitute this board,” Ogun said.
Speaking further, Ogun lamented that excitement that greeted the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as a reform that can improve the oil and gas sector has started waning as a result of undue delay in its passage by the National Assembly.
The union leader called on government to harmonise the grey areas noted in the bill by various stakeholders so as to quicken its passage of the Bill.
“Our association has been vociferous on the petroleum sector reforms through our participations and representations at different stages and fora. There are grey areas noted in this bill by various stakeholders and we have advised government to harmonise these issues so as to quicken its passage.
“NUPENG and PENGASSAN have gone a step further to engage the OPTS (Oil Producers Trade Sector), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as representative of government to address those controversial issues as it relates to costs, profits, royalties, taxes and fiscal investment among others.
“PENGASSAN has worked with NUPENG to adopt a common position on identified industry and labour issues in the bill, which was presented to both the Senate and the House of Representatives. “Despite all these efforts on the part of the unions, it seems the executive arm of government has not exhibited any seriousness in getting the bill passed, as the National Assembly is foot dragging in the passage of the bill,” he explained.
He equally condemned vehemently the attempts by government to sell the four state-owned refineries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Warri after several failures to do Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) on them.
He said government was insincere in implementing the agreement reached with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and PENGASSAN during the January 7, 2014 meeting on the sale of refineries.
“We are watching closely all the subterranean attempts by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to go ahead with the sale of these refineries in spite of our engagement and agreement with the government. We earnestly yearn for stronger commitment and push to improve and increase local refining with specific date to end importation of petroleum products and gas flaring,” he added.
– This Day