*Kachikwu backtracks, says NNPC not unbundled
10 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The two major oil workers’ unions on Wednesday shut down the operations of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, nationwide in protest against what they perceive is the unbundling of the Corporation.
In what appears to be an apparent reversal of his earlier position, the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on Wednesday denied media reports that the Federal Government had unbundled the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, into four separate entities.
The unions, which include the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, gave no prior warning about the strike action.
Workers reported for duty at the headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday, only to find their offices under lock and key.
Many of the workers told our correspondent in Abuja that they were stopped from entering their offices. Attempts to get the union leaders to speak proved abortive as they all declined to speak to the media.
Also affected by the shut-down in Abuja were the staff of the Ministry of petroleum Resources and other sundry businesses including banks that operate from the NNPC Towers.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, confirmed that the protesting workers also denied him entry into his office. He said that when the management of the corporation met later in the day, it would comment on the development.
Most of the workers were seen sitting outside the towers awaiting directives from the union leaders.
One NNPC staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the union shut the office claiming that they were not consulted in the process of unbundling of the corporation.
“We heard that the management was holding a meeting and they will brief us later in the day,” she said. But as at the time of going to press, no official word has come from the NNPC management on the situation.
There was a heavy police presence in and around the headquarters to prevent violence or damage to NNPC property.
It would be recalled that NUPENG and PENGASSAN in separate statements on Tuesday said the move to unbundle the corporation was an attempt to provoke the oil and gas workers and cause industrial unrest in the country.
The unions condemned what they termed “the unilateral action of the Minister of State, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, as the decision is not in consonance with the laws establishing the NNPC.”
The statement added that “The unbundling and rebranding of NNPC as announced by the Minister of State is another public policy change which is not consistent with the Act and Laws establishing NNPC and will be resisted by oil and gas workers in the country.
“NUPENG will not tolerate a situation whereby the unbundled companies will now hide under the cover to start disengaging its workers,” it stated.
Kachikwu on Tuesday announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the unbundling of the corporation into four units. The units were Upstream Company, Downstream Company, Refinery Company, Gas and Power Company.
The Minister of State had insisted that the restructuring will not lead to job losses.
According to him, the Upstream Company will now comprise NPDC and the IDSL while the Downstream Company consists of Retail, NPMC and NPSC, The Refinery Company, he said, would consist of WRPC, KRPC and PHRC, while the Gas and Power is now made up of NGPTC, NGMC and Gas and Power Investment.
Kachikwu said the Federal Government had approved the appointment of Chief Executives for the companies in the person of Bello Rabiu as Chief Executive Officer of the Upstream Company; Henry Ikem Obih for Downstream; Anibor Kragha for Refineries and Saidu Mohammed for Gas and Power.
Others are Dr. Babatunde Victor Adeniran (Ventures), Isiaka Abdulrazaq (Finance & Accounts) and Isa Inuwa (Corporate Planning & Services).
The new NNPC design is based on ‘FACT’ organisation which is Focused, Accountable, Competitive and Transparent.
According to NNPC, “the organizational realignment is not about staff layoffs, but about placing the right people in the right places to do the right thing”.
When confronted to respond to the workers’ action, Kchikwu said that the NNPC is still a whole and nothing new had happened to it, adding that he would continue to engage NNPC workers on the matter so that they will understand the issue.
“We have not unbundled NNPC. We had a press conference yesterday (Tuesday) where I explained this. What we have done is a reorganisation. We have five business entities focused on business: Upstream, Downstream, Refineries, Gas and Power that are there before.
“There is also Ventures that captures all our little companies that were not having proper stewardship. They are run by individuals who report to the GMD. The NNPC is still a whole. There is nothing new that has happened,” he claimed.
“I have tried to explain this and I am sure the NNPC workers are members of the family, they will understand. We are going to have a meeting, and they will be made to understand. Perhaps the engagement has not been good enough.
“NNPC has not been unbundled in the sense of breaking up NNPC into distinct institutions. I am concerned. I don’t want the industry shut down. I am sure we are going to resolve the issues very soon,” he said.