Posted by News Express | 13 December 2013 | 3,717 times
The planned privatisation of Nigeria’s refineries in the first quarter of 2014 is being stoutly opposed by the staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Yesterday in Abuja, about 200 NNPC staff stage a protest against the plan and vowed to resist it.
They acted under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), affiliates of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and Nigeria Labour Congress.
Dressed in red shirts and red wearing caps, the workers gathered at the NNPC headquarters as early as 8:30 am, singing solidarity songs. They were led by the NNPC Group PENGASSAN Chairman, Sanusi Abdulkareem and NUPENG Group chairman, Richard Otovwievwiere.
The workers hoisted placards, some of which read: “We say no to illegal sale of our refineries”, “We cannot be fooled anymore!!” and “Hide not under privatization to hijack our refineries”.
Addressing the workers, Otovwievwiere said: “On this occasion today, we want to report the Nigerian officials to Nigerian people. Please recall that the Petroleum Industry Bill that they have been singing about has been faulted by the National Assembly. We also use this opportunity to call on the government and the members of the National Assembly to ask questions about the wisdom of privatising our national wealth.
“We have faulted the Minister of Petroleum Resources and we feel her wisdom is too shallow for any NNPC worker to understand. In one breadth, she will talk about Turn Around Maintenances, in another breadth, she will tell us that the TAM has been done. In another breadth, she will say privatisation of the refineries will be completed in February 2014.
“All these are all lies. I remind you today that the unions have been proactive on the issue of the refineries. The unions had an undertaking with the government of late President Umaru Yar’Adua that we were going to bring the refineries to success.”
Otovwievwiere recalled that on May 29 2007, the unions had a meeting with Bureau of Public Enterprises where it was agreed that if there would be privatisation, it was going to be 51:49 percent equity shares “and in a situation that communities have to be represented, state governments have to be represented with a view to making sure that there is security of our oil pipelines.”
“But today, the Federal Government has granted amnesty to militants and paid them money to guard the pipelines. All over the world, nations have been known to go to war for mere threat to their economic interests,” Otovwievwiere said, adding:
“Individuals also go to war of their economic interest is threatened. But in Nigeria, people steal our products, destroy our products, yet no government official make any statement. The easier thing to do is to take our wealth.
“NNPC workers believe in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan and his development programmes. But what the Minister is saying is not in line with the developmental programmes of Jonathan. We are to develop the refineries and not to sell them. Anybody who is interested in buying the refineries won’t have refineries to buy. Nigerians say No!”
In his speech Abdulkareem said: “I want to assure you that they must listen to us, we are going to move round other NNPC stations to give them words of solidarity. But in case of any emergency, we will quickly get back to you as fast as possible.”
•Photo shows Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison-Madueke.
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