Posted by News Express | 3 May 2016 | 3,560 times
Tension is now high at NNPC Towers, the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with the workers drawing the battle-line with the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, over the extension of retirement dates for two NNPC directors sacked last year.
A report this morning in Daily Trust said Kachikwu’s action is a direct contradiction of a clear directive from President Muhammadu Buhari, who doubles as the Minister for Petroleum Resources.
According to the report, following a request by Dr. Kachikwu to President Buhari to reconstitute the Executive Management of NNPC, the President in August 2015 approved, among other things, the disengagement of all the eight NNPC Group Executive Directors (GEDs).
Dr Dan Iwoene Efebo, then GED, Corporate Services, and Chris Osasu Osarumwense, Managing Director, NNPC Retail Limited, were among those disengaged from the corporation.
The report quoted NNPC records as indicating that both officers had less than five months to complete 10 years in public service which would have qualified them for pension benefits under the NNPC Defined Pension Scheme. Efebo and Osarumwense served the corporation for 9 years, 8 months and 9 years, 11 months, respectively.
“But the minister has now directed that the service dates of the two gentlemen be changed to enable them reach ten years of service and become pensionable,” the report said, adding:
“Insiders in the NNPC said the extension of terminal dates for the two disengaged management staff was contrary to the directive of President Buhari who authorised their disengagement from service with effect from August 4, 2015.
“The minister’s directive for the date extension and subsequent implementation was contained in a letter dated February 1, 2016 with Ref: HMS/MPR/006/Vol.1, addressed to the GED, finance and services of the NNPC.”
Daily Trust quoted parts of the letter as reading: “Considering the fact that both officers had less than 5 months to complete 10 years in public service their terminal dates from the services of the NNPC are hereby extended retroactively as follows: Dr. Dan Iwoene Efebo from 11th August 2015 to 11th December, 2015; Christopher Osasu Osarumwense from 11th August, 2015 to 8th September, 2015.
“The extension is on compassionate grounds to enable them complete 10 years in public service and qualify for payment of pension benefits. Accordingly, you are by this approval requested to pay the referenced staff all salaries and allowances up to their extended dates of retirement from NNPC.”
But, according to the report, the workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) have declared the minister’s extension of terminal dates for the two staff as unacceptable to them.
It said that the unions, in a letter to Kachikwu dated April 28, jointly signed by Group Chairman and Secretary, PENGASSAN Comrade Sale Mohammed Abdullahi, Comrade Sulaiman Sulaiman and Group Chairman and Secretary, NUPENG, Comrade Udofia Odudu Benjamin and Comrade Uche Amana, pointed out that the affected staff cannot benefit from salary and allowances they never worked for.
According to the unions in their letter, “This is a selective policy change to suit some few individuals and setting a bad precedence; Pension benefits are paid not only by NNPC but with staff contribution. The HMSP has no right to unilaterally decide on that matter without consultations with stakeholders; It contradicts the provisions of Pension Reform Act 2014 which stipulates the condition for Pension qualification.”
The letter warned: “In view of the forgoing submissions ... the NUPENG and PENGASSAN GEC may not guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the organisation.”
Both spokesmen for the petroleum ministry (Idang Alibi) and NNPC (Garba Deen Muhammad) both declined to comment on the issue.
•Photo shows Dr. Kachikwu.
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