Mkpoikana Udoma 19 November 2015, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – A group known as Rivers Indigenous Petroleum Tanker Drivers Forum has accused the National President of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Mr. Igwe Achese, of manipulation and imposition of union leaders in the Port Harcourt Refinery depot unit election, held on October 30 this year.
The group has, therefore, threatened to cripple petroleum products supply in Rivers State if the outcome of the election was not properly addressed.
Spokesman for the group, Mr. Williams Isaiah, spoke of an existing memorandum of understanding between the members of the union, stating that under the arrangement, the next chairman of the union ought to have come from Rivers State.
He maintained that the unit would not accept the outcome of the election. “We (Rivers people) have not tasted the position of chairman of this unit before. The position was ceded to Rivers State and our own brother (Igwe Achese), who we felt would protect us, gave it to an Edo guy.
“Based on that, on the election day, all the tanker drivers boycotted it. So, we are saying here authoritatively that election did not hold regarding PTD (Petroleum Tanker Drivers) or NUPENG in Port Harcourt Refinery unit; and if the people who he (Achese) felt have emerged winners come to assume our secretariat, there will be a breach of peace in which we will shut down and there will be indefinite scarcity of products in Rivers State.” he said.
The group also called on the Rivers State Government and other stakeholders in the petroleum industry to intervene in order to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
“We are calling on Rivers State Government, the Commissioner of Police and all relevant authorities to wade into this matter in order to avert possible breakdown of law and order which we don’t want as law abiding citizens”
In his reaction, Mr. Achese, in a telephone interview, told SweetcrudeReportsthat NUPENG was not Rivers State-owned. but a national union, and that it is, therefore, not mandatory that a Rivers person must emerge as its chairman or president.
Achese explained that the people threatening and orchestrating trouble are not official members of NUPENG, adding that the Port Harcourt Refinery depot elections was free and fair, and devoid of any irregularity.
“First of all, there is no union in NUPENG known as Rivers Indigenous PTD Forum.Those people threatening violence are not members of NUPENG, and if they are members they would not be hiding under any guise.
“They are claiming to be tanker drivers when they are not; ask them ‘which company are they working?’. If they want to be members of PTD, they should get registered officially, or if they want to be motor-boy, they should get registered officially too and with that they will be automatic members of PTD with the right to vote and be voted for,” he said.