The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), the umbrella body of senior oil industry workers in the country, has decried the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) by thw National Assembly, saying Nigeria was losing billions of dollars in investment in the oil and gas sector as a result of the non-passage of the bill.
Appealing for a speedy passage of the bill, PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, told Sweet Crude: “It is regrettable that a process started over 11 years ago with the inauguration of the Rilwanu Lukman Oil and Gas Sector Reform Committee is yet to be finalised. This is giving investors and workers in the sector serious cause for concern.”
Comrade Ogun lamented that, up till today; Nigerians did not know many versions of PIB before the National Assembly and called for public hearing on the PIB to allow members of the public make inputs into the bill. He re-iterated that organized labour in the sector would not accept a PIB that did not accommodate labour concerns, saying “those concerns must be taken into account before its passage.”
The PENGASSAN President condemned a recent memo by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, limiting the constitutional and legal rights of its employees to freedom of association and belonging to any union.
This, he said, was done by categorising almost all senior staff as “projections of management”.
Comrade Ogun advised the relevant government agencies to call SPDC and Petroleum Equalisation Fund, PEF, to order to avoid industrial unrest in the sector.
According to him, the PEF Management should desist from fanning the embers of discord or meddling in the internal workings of the union’s branch in the agency, warning that “any attempt to victimise our members in the agency— as is being presently orchestrated— will be strongly resisted with adverse consequences on the agency and the economy as a whole”.
PENGASSAN’s President decried the resurgence of kidnapping in the Niger Delta and activities of the Boko Haram sect, saying “their activities have put the lives of Nigerians, including members of PENGASSAN and their families, in danger”.
He said it is sad that Nigerians are currently living in fear as a result of the continuous terror unleashed on the people. ‘We call on the government to live up to its responsibility and invest more on intelligence gathering to allow for a lasting solution to these problems.’
PENGASSAN lamented the inability of the Police to arrest anyone for the killing of two of its members in Mosogar, Delta State in 2009 while three Chevron members who were kidnapped in Delta State was yet to be released.
The association added, “The primary duty of any government is the welfare and security of its citizens. It is therefore unacceptable that government will shirk this responsibility and allow killing, maiming and generally depriving Nigerians of their right to life and liberty”.