From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), yesterday, expressed dismay over what it described as the slow process to revamp the nation’s four refineries.
NUPENG said Nigerians were losing patient, noting that the present arrangement of importing petroleum products has grave negative economic consequences.
The union, therefore, called on the Federal Government to expedite action in turning around the refineries for the common good of all.
National President of the union, Williams Akporeha, spoke in Asaba during the fifth quadrennial delegates’ conference with the theme: Just Energy Transition: For Oil and Gas Workers Social Welfare and Security.
He said the deplorable condition of the refineries was “disheartening and disturbing not only to the union but to the entire nation.
“We are really worried and concerned that a country with the resources and the population, like Nigeria, still dependent on importation, thereby exporting jobs and resources to other countries.
“The Federal Government should be up and doing to ensure the refineries are working to reduce importation.”
Declaring the conference open, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State said NUPENG was a critical trade union in the oil and gas industry.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Patrick Ukah, Okowa advised labour unions and management in oil and gas industry to always find a common ground in settling industrial issues to ensure less friction in the sector.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, said labour unions would continue to engage the political class to ensure improved welfare for workers, adding that unionism is sacrosanct for workers to dialogue with the employers of labour.
He said casualisation of workers is evil and tantamount to slavery, noting that it must be resisted by workers while urging the labour unions to sensitise their members on the need to procure their permanent voters’ card in order to engage politically.
Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, noted that the petroleum sector plays a key role in the country’s economy, and had called for diversification from oil to agriculture.
He said only a formidable workforce with good welfare could build the failing economy and address all the the challenges in the various sectors, including the oil and gas industry.
Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC), Mele Kyari, condemned the rate of oil theft in the country, and called for collaborations from all stakeholders to stem the tide.
He said NNPC would continue to partner NUPENG to sustain the production of oil and gas, adding that the sector would remain relevant at all times irrespective of emerging technologies in the energy sector.