16 November 2015, Owerri – The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has urged the federal government to as a matter of urgency look inward by diversifying the nation’s economy through the promotion of agriculture, solid minerals and tourism to generate more revenue for the country.
In a welcome address delivered at the 2015 NUPENG National Education Seminar in Owerri, the National President, Comrade Igwe Achese, expressed concern over the adverse effect the oil gloom in the world has caused on the nation’s economy, which had in no small measure affected money in-flow and had reduced the revenue accruing to the nation by 50 per cent.
According to him, it is against this background that the nation must now look inward by diversifying the economy. We must not rely on oil alone but look at other areas that will bring the needed revenue for infrastructural development.
He added that it was high time the country looked into agriculture, solid minerals and tourism to generate more revenue.
On deregulation of the downstream oil sector, Achese observed that the union was not opposed to the idea but that it should be done fully when the nation’s four refineries resume production to its full capacity.
He noted that the federal government must create an enabling environment to engender private investors’ interest in building refineries in the country for the purpose of boosting the local refinery capacity to meet the ever increasing local demand for petroleum products as well as for export purposes.
The NUPENG boss however commended the effort of the federal government in bringing back on stream the nation’s four refineries, adding “when in full production capacity they can refine 440,000 barrels per day (bpd).”
He added that the Turn-Around-Maintenance (TAM) of the four refineries must be adopted as an established culture, more-so now that the present administration had maintained that non of the refineries would be sold, instead enters into partnership.
“In view of this, NUPENG and PENGASSAN leadership should be consulted to own shares when the partnership comes up, because it is the workers that create the wealth as it is done in industrial democracies like Germany and Norway,” he stressed.
The Union urged government to build more refineries that would create auxiliary industries and lead to massive job opportunities for Nigerians. In the same vein, the body also reminded investors that had been granted licenses to emulate Alhaji Aliko Dangote and build refineries, as it would go a long way to save foreign exchange spent on importation of petroleum products.
NUPENG also called on the federal government to re-package and re-submit the much-talked-about Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) to the national assembly, stating the need for an inclusive stakeholders’ summit of the industry operators and players (IOC’s, national assembly, security and service chiefs, state government, MDAs, NNPC, NEITI, revenue officers, NLC, TUC, NUPENG/PENGASSAN) to harmonise the grey areas and ensure passage of the PIB in a fair and equitable manner.
The three-day seminar which was attended by all Union executives and members drawn from all the zones in the country produced far-reaching decisions on the way forward for the oil sector and the nation’s economy in general.