Nigerians could experience acute petroleum products scarcity in the coming days if the strike by oil workers continues.
The strike by the main oil industry workers unions – Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), and its junior staff counterpart, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) – entered the third day yesterday; as daily average fuel supply, particularly Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly called petrol, dropped by more than 36 million litres.
The current industrial action embarked upon by NNPC staff has worsened, as other units of the company have joined the ongoing labour dispute.
Subsidiaries of the NNPC which have now joined the strike include: the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Kaduna Refining and Petro-chemical Company (KRPC), Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company (WRPC), Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), Hyson, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Integrated Data Services Limited (IDSL) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).
The industry’s senior staff union, had on Tuesday called its member on an indefinite strike in sympathy with their colleagues in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), who are pressing for the resolution of issues regarding pensions’ management.
The pension issues were compounded by the revocation of the license of the NNPC pension scheme by the National Pensions Commission (PENCOM), over the corporation’s alleged inability to bridge the funding gap of about N85billion in its pension scheme.
Other demands are adequate and regular funding of the closed pension system, immediate steps to carry out Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) on the four refineries as agreed between government and the two unions (NUPENG and PENGASSAN), and restoration of crude supply to the refineries.
The NNPC, which has been running a closed pension scheme not subject to the regulation of the national pensions policy spelt out in the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014 as amended, was recently directed by PENCOM to discontinue its closed pension scheme arrangement and join the open scheme under the latter’s supervision; an arrangement the NNPC workers do not feel comfortable with.
Part of the unions’ demands underlining the industrial action has been for NNPC to be allowed to run its workers pension exclusively like other institutions as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in view of concerns of accountability and security of contributions under the open pension arrangement.
Another letter from PENCOM to the corporation on Monday, September 15, insisted on full compliance with the directive by using a 12-month window granted to wind down and “immediately take all necessary steps to transit to the Contributory Pension Scheme under the PRA.”
But, the letter appears to have inflamed the strike.
Though the NNPC management said it was dialoguing with PENCOM on an amicable solution, it appealed to the leadership of the industrial unions to exercise restraint in their handling of the issue.
The NNPC noted that since the commencement of the scheme in 2006, the management and staff had made efforts to bridge the funding gaps in the scheme, currently at N85billion as at June 2014, down from a deficit level of about N298billion in 2010.
The impact of the two-day old strike has so far significantly threatened NNPC operations nationwide, as the corporation accounts for more than 45 per cent of the about 40 million litres daily consumption of petroleum products. The major and independent petroleum products marketers account for the importation of the remaining 55 per cent of the products consumed nationwide.
Long queues of trucks were seen along the routes to NNPC depots in Ejigbo, and Mosimi fuel depots waiting for hours for their turn to load petroleum products.
The Chairman, Mosimi Depot of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Dele Tajudeen, said if nothing was done to resolve the crisis and the strike called off, the situation might worsen in the days ahead.
“I urge the Federal Government and the unions to come to terms in finding lasting solution to the lingering crisis to save the economy,”
Tajudeen said. “Most trucks have been here since Saturday night to load products to various states, but it’s unfortunate that they found themselves in this mess.”
At Ejigbo Depot, the situation was not different, as the strike had virtually crippled NNPC operations in the area, with loading of petroleum products only holding at private depots only at exorbitant charges.
Loading of petrol, which usually attracts an official price of N89.70 per litre, went for between N90 and N91 per litre.
The President, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (NALPGAM), Basil Ogbuanu, said the strike had also significantly affected loading of gas in some of the depots across the country.
According to him, the shut-down of Warri depot, which has the highest concentration of his members, would create scarcity of the product nationwide.
A statement from PENGASSAN on Wednesday did not offer any hope for an immediate resolution of the crisis, as its Media Officer, Babatunde Oke, said the strike would continue until the union extracted firm commitment from the NNPC on the issues at stake.
Oke said the unions were also demanding regular funding of the closed pension system, immediate steps to carry out turn around maintenance (TAM) on the four refineries as agreed between government and the two unions as well as restoration of crude supply to the refineries.
He said the issues had gone beyond granting of a 12-month grace to the NNPC by PENCOM, adding that the NNPC management should put in place machinery that would automatically fund the pension system without any bureaucratic bottleneck.
The union blamed the crisis on the inability of the NNPC board to meet for over a year to approve the proposal of the management for funding of the pension system.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, yesterday in Abuja urged Nigerians not to panic over the current fuel scarcity in the country.
Wogu made the call while speaking with newsmen on the ongoing strike by the oil and gas sectors.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Monday shut down operations nationwide.
The unions had shut down operations nationwide over alleged irregular funding of their pension scheme, which had led to about N85billion deficit.
Other demands of the workers are the call for immediate steps to carry out Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) on the four refineries as agreed between government and the two unions and restoration of crude supply to the refineries
The minister said that talks were still ongoing with the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the in house unions of PENGASSAN and NUPENG.
“Everything is under control, discussions are going on, talks started yesterday and are still on.
“There should be no need for panic buying of fuel and I am positive that the issue will be resolved soon, ‘’ he said.
Most filling stations in Abuja are not selling the commodity while there are long queues at the few stations selling.
IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms
Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”
30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.
FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.
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