The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have thrown their weight behind the decision of the Federal Government to stop the payment of petrol subsidy.
Chairmen of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, Comrade Igwe Achese and Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson, respectively, addressing reporters after a joint National Executive Council meeting in Calabar Friday, said, “The deregulation of the sector is what we have been agitating for the past eight years or more. But each time we want to react, Nigerians want to live on the bedrock of lies. And that has been our problem. We have been living on the bedrock of lies. Successive governments come in, what we hear are full of lies. The oil and gas sector must have transparency and it is only when it is transparent that the nation’s economy will beginning to grown and job opportunities would be created.
“For us our clear position is that the deregulation of the sector and opening of the market is a welcome development. Someone asked me about the price whether it is not too high and I say the price is a secondary issue. The most important thing is that government has come up with a firm stand that would stop payment of subsidy into the hands of few Nigerians. That is the first thing Nigerians must appreciate. It was tried by the past administration and I know what happened. It was politicized. Some members of the political lines took over these issues as if it was their bed right to continue milking the nation’s purse.
“It is clear that we must deregulate and stop payment of subsidies into the hands of few Nigerians. We must not mortgage the nation’s economy into the hands of few Nigerians. We must open up the system and see how we can now talk about regulation. The key fundamental issue in the issue of this price modulation is regulation and putting in place the necessary checks and balances that can control the price environment as it is.
“But government should put in place the mechanism to start negotiation immediately on the minimum wage. It is very key to us. Because you cannot tell us that you are doing this and there are no palliative and one of the key palliative in the Nigerian environment is to renegotiate the minimum wage. Government must move in quickly and do this otherwise there would be a reaction somewhere.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, they commended President Muhammadu Buhari in his fight against corruption and insecurity in the country.
It read in part, “The NEC in session had an extensive discussion on the recent price modulation. The NEC-in- session is of the view that price deregulation has its benefits in the immediate and near future.
“However, NEC-in session strongly demands the federal government’s engagement with the stakeholders to work out a clear direction on how to reinvest the gains into the economy to cushion the effect of the price.
“The NEC-in- session after an exhaustive deliberation of all these resultant effects ,resolve that , there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift and a new direction in the management of new investments and income in the oil and gas industry , but with critical proviso, among which include:
-Government must ensure optional performance of the existing refineries and also put in place machinery for the construction of new refineries in the country to ensure adequate production for domestic consumption and possibly export.
-Immediate commencement of negotiation of minimum wage for workers across all cadres.
-Engagement of critical stakeholders for the federal government to provide a road map for with timelines of the infrastructures it intends to embark upon with the proceeds from this price modulation to cushion the harsh effects of the new direction.
-Immediate reconstruction of the board of the PPPRA and PEF for the management of the new price regime.
–The reconstitution and the re-strengthening of relevant agencies such as Standard Organisations of Nigeria (SON) , DPR and the Nigeria Customs and Excise Department to prevent the abuse of the new framework of PMS supply and distributions.