The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu has asked the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to sheath their sword in their protest against the apparent emergence of two executive secretaries for the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), THISDAY has learnt.
The senior oil workers had sealed the agency’s headquarters in protest against the appointment of two acting executive secretaries for the agency.
Following the sack of the heads of 25 agencies, including the immediate past Executive Secretary of PPPRA, Mr. Farouk Ahmed by President Muhammadu Buhari, Farouk had handed over to the most senior staff of the agency, Mr. Moses Mbaba in line with government’s directive.
But few hours later, the Ministry of Petroleum was said to have sent NNPC’s Manager in charge of HSE, Mr. Sotonye Iyoyo to take over as the Executive Secretary of PPPRA, a development, which prompted PENGASSAN to seal off the headquarters of the agency in protest.
Apparently irked by the emergence of two leaders for one agency, PENGASSAN had embarked on protest and sealed the headquarters of PPPRA.
The Chairman of PENGASSAN, PPPRA Branch, Mr. Victor Ononokpono, who led the protest, had asked the federal government to make a pronouncement to resolve the confusion, insisting that their protest would continue until the matter was resolved.
But the PENGASSAN leader told THISDAY at the weekend that the union had backed down because the minister had agreed to resolve the matter.
“The minister has agreed to resolve the matter. So, we have stopped the protest. We are not saying that the government should appoint a particular person but we are opposed to appointing an outsider to head the PPPRA,” Ononokpono told THISDAY.
Ononokpono had argued that the Act, which established the PPPRA expected it to become an autonomous agency to primarily regulate the downstream sector, adding that the ministry of petroleum resources has rather chosen to deploy staff from the NNPC to head the agency in the last eight years.
“The haste in appointing another acting chief executive for PPPRA is curious. However, I do not think it is the federal government.
“I believe there are external forces other than the federal government because when the second executive secretary came in, the haste with which she started handling files and even sign out payments for subsidy claims is alarming, especially when the person currently there has not briefed her or handed over to her,” Ononokpono said.
He further explained that: “She signed out Batch P of subsidy claims payments for second quarter. We are talking of subsidy payments due for second quarter of 2016.
“The amount approved for subsidy payment was N3.4 billion (outstanding/carryover). Is it a coincidence to think that was the first file she reached out to?”
On the impacts of government appointing its head from a marketing operator in the sector, Ononokpono said: “In the last 10 years, this has been the trend; it has affected and impaired the activities of PPPRA in no little way and we are saying going forward, this is a season of change, it presupposes that due processes must be followed.”
“If we want to address the issue of regulation and control in Nigeria, we must also determine the source of leadership. It is the key. That is the union’s grouse, the source of leadership,” he added.