Workers shut down PPPRA over appointment of ‘outsider’ as head

*Workers protest.

*Workers protest.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

25 February 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The offices of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, nationwide were shut down yesterday by staff of the agency under the umbrella body of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, PPPRA Branch, over alleged imposition of an acting executive secretary on the agency.

Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, who is the General Manager Health, Safety and Environment at the NNPC, was said to have assumed duty on Monday as acting executive secretary four days after the immediate past scribe of the agency Farouk Ahmed handed over to Mr. Moses Mbaba, the most senior official of the organization.

Iyoyo who was alleged to have been redeployed from the NNPC on the orders of top directors in the ministry of petroleum resources, resumed as the acting executive secretary while Mbaba was away for an official assignment in Lagos.

The development angered staff who trooped in their numbers in red apparel to block the main entry to the agency’s headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday to express discontent over the appointment.

Chairman of the PPPRA chapter of PENGASSAN, Victor Ononokpono told newsmen that staff were curious with the haste the second executive secretary assumed office having not been handed over to by Mr. Mbaba and the haste with which she started treating files.

Ononokpono alleged that on assumption of office last Monday, Iyoyo, under questionable circumstances, immediately approved the payment of N3.4 billion subsidy claims to oil marketers.

He alleged that the payments were due in the second quarter of 2016, yet Iyoyo approved them. Ononokpono blamed the confusion on external forces and entrenched interests which he said are keen on using the agency to perpetrate questionable schemes.

“The haste in appointing another acting chief executive for PPPRA is curious. However, I do not think it is the federal government.

“I believe there are external forces other than the federal government because when the second executive secretary came in, the haste with which she started handling files and even signed out payments for subsidy claims is alarming, especially when the person currently there has not briefed her or handed over to her,” Ononokpono said.

He further explained that: “She signed out Batch P of subsidy claims payments for second quarter. We are talking of subsidy payments due for second quarter of 2016.

“The amount approved for subsidy payment was N3.4 billion (outstanding/carryover). Is it a coincidence to think that that was the first file she reached

Ononokpono further stated that the workers would reject the appointment of officers from companies that the PPPRA is supposed to be regulating, such as the NNPC to head the agency.

According to him, “The second leg of the protest is the union’s rejection of having to use or select chief executives from operating and marketing companies to head PPPRA, which is a regulatory agency.”

He said in some instances, they discovered that these appointees still keep their appointments in their parent organisation as well as their loyalty which however influences their actions at the PPPRA.

“In the last 10 years, this has been the trend; it has affected and impaired the activities of PPPRA in no little way, and we are saying going forward, this is a season of change, it presupposes that due processes must be followed,” he stated.

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