By Chineme Okafor
Nigeria’s oil workers under the auspices of their two major unions, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Wednesday started a nationwide industrial action against the federal government’s restructuring of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
THISDAY in Abuja learnt that the action which started with a total closedown of operations at the corporate headquarters of the NNPC was initiated by the unions’ branch within the NNPC.
In other words, it is both the NNPC branch of PENGASSAN and NUPENG that are in strike against the government.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on Tuesday night at a press briefing in Abuja announced that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the restructuring of the NNPC into seven new divisions.
Kachikwu explained that under the new structure, NNPC will have five core new divisions comprising the upstream,
downstream, refining group, gas and power, as well as the ventures’ groups, among others.
But the oil workers stated that they were not carried along in the entire process, hence their decision to down tool.
The main entrance to the Corporation was blocked early Wednesday morning. Staff of the NNPC and its subsidiaries located in the towers were equally turned back by the protesting union members.
When the THISDAY contacted the national president of NUPENG, Mr. Igwe Achese on phone, he confirmed the development to the paper.
Achese explained that the national body had earlier tried to mediate when it realised that the strike was in the offing but its advice was not heeded to.
According to sources in the unions, the development is also expected to extend to other critical areas of the country’s petroleum sector: downstream, upstream and midstream operations.
They said that immediately, the effects of the development especially on the downstream operations may include further disruptions in petrol distribution and an escalation of the lingering scarcity as a result of the expected closure of the depots in the country by the workers.
The country has in the last couple of weeks continued to battle against the resurgence of scarcity of petrol owing to distribution disruptions and shortage of products.
More to follow.
By Chineme Okafor