10 July 2016, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — On Thursday, the 7th of July, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, working in collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, embarked on an industrial action to press home demands for the funding, by the Federal Government of the Joint Venture Partnership. The other reason for the strike action as highlighted by the National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, Comrade Emmanuel Ojugbana, is the inability of the government to meet its Cash Call obligations under the JV Agreement. In the gentleman’s own words: “the inability of the government to fund the Joint Venture (JV) operations and (sic) settle Cash Call arrears has denied the country of new investments, while the existing operations and activities are being stalled. This has resulted in lack of new job opportunities, while our members who have been in employments, are losing their jobs because their employers could not meet their salary obligations to them…” Underlining, mine.
In truth, the words which I underlined are the sum of PENGASSAN and their degenerate cousins, NUPENG. From the time of their registration as unions between 1976 and 1977 PENGASSAN and NUPENG have constituted themselves into the unsolicited guardians ad litem of the Nigerian masses, pretending to act in loco parentis to a largely illiterate and ill-informed public that is deployed by the duo shamelessly as bargain chip, fodder, canon and shield, depending on the unions’ interests at risk. Between 2012 and 2013 these unions went to war against the government of Jonathan over the plan by that government to increase the pump price of petroleum products by removing the oppressive subsidy bill that was throttling the government. The operatives of these unions, most of whom are stupendously rich, cried out against Jonathan’s government, calling out the masses to fight against the plan to hike prices of commodities that are extracted from a locally produced resource. Jonathan’s government retracted its laudable plans that would have shrunk government expenditure, expanded investments through savings of trillions of Naira and grown the economy. For their perfidy, those operatives were rewarded by the very folk who commissioned their rain dance: the marketers. And the economy continued its downward slide.
Let us analyse together the twin reasons for the current strike. JV Funding comes from the Federal Government which has allotted to itself the role of Nigeria’s oil and gas business manager. In truth JV Funding and Cash Call Payments are two sides of a coin because the Cash Call Payments are the set of payments made by the Federal Government to her JV Partners for picking government’s own tabs in the JV arrangement, thereby funding her aspects of the Joint Venture. The unions recalled their workers to pressure the Federal Government into honouring her obligations ostensibly to the employers of PENGASSAN and NUPENG members. They could have stated so and received the plaudits of their members and employers but having become ossified in the habit of deception and dissembling they had to state that Government’s neglect to inject funds into the JV arrangement was affecting the oil and gas industry adversely, like they really care!!!
The strike itself is a blow to the Nigerian economy as it stifles movement, communication and commerce. PENGASSAN and NUPENG have mastered the game of manipulating the Nigerian masses to fight their selfish battles and leaving the masses in the lurch while they run back to their cosy air conditioned and “safe” offices to count their gains. Without any variation, it is the masses and the Nigerian society that suffer the effects of industrial actions carried out by these unconscionable elements but they always managed to convince the masses they act for the public good. They say in the Niger Delta that men who are born with too many ears get to hear too many incredible stories. Within two days of the commencement of the strike, PMS is selling in Port Harcourt for N250.00 a litre where it is found; most stations are without products with the promise that the sufferings visited on the city two weeks ago when truck drivers affiliated to NUPENG went on strike for the dismissal of some drivers adjudged by their employers to be dangerous at their jobs, shall soon become the lot of the people again. In what ways would this strike aid the oil and gas industry?
Even without this senseless strike, Nigeria faces crossroads at several points. The Niger Delta Avengers are destroying oil installations and causing monumental waste and damages to the industry and the environment, oil prices are down, the income streams of states and the Federal Government are impacted negatively, capital projects all over the country are being starved of funding and the economy is grinding to a halt. The story gets worse as insecurity in and around the theatres of production is mopping up the private equity injected into the country in the form of Direct Foreign Investment. As PENGASSAN’s Ojugbana observed, job opportunities are dwindling as venture capital takes flight of the country. This is the inauspicious time that PENGASSAN and NUPENG have chosen to deal further discomfort to the Nigerian economy and society. And that is why we must finally as a people throw pretence to the winds and openly celebrate the denudation of the fake “consultants” of the Nigerian people in oil and gas matters. As Nigeria rolls down the cliff in response to the shoving and prodding of the many interest centres in the polity we need not tolerate counterfeiters and cheap tricksters who pretend to care for the economy while damaging it. I mean, we‘ve got Boko Haram and the Avengers. Who needs PENGASSAN?