By Adedayo Akinwale
The House of Representatives has directed the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the management of Warri Refining and Petro-chemica] Company (WRPC) to reinstate the over 300 persons whose appointments were terminated pending the investigation by its Committee on Public Petitions.
The House also mandated its Committee on Petroleum Down Stream to carry out a forensic investigation into the recent recruitment of graduate trainees by the NNPC with a view to determining how many persons were recruited from the various host communities.
The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion on the urgent need to investigate the termination of the employment of over 300 casual staff of WRPC moved by Hon. Thomas Ereyitomi.
In his lead debate, Ereyitomi said that in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging Nigeria and the world at large, the management of WRPC sacked over 300 casual staff of the refinery, in spite of the federal government directives that no government agency or private establishment should sack or lay off any of its staff.
He said that all the affected persons are indigenes of the host communities where the refinery is located, which is made up of Itsekiri and Urhobo communities.
The lawmaker recalled that sometime in July 2019, Hon. Ben Bakpa presented a petition to the House on behalf of the host communities seeking amongst other things de-casualisation of the employment status of indigenous workers with WRPC.
He lamented that NNPC without respect for the House Committee on Public Petitions went ahead to recruit 1,050 graduate trainees against the resolution and recommendations of the committee.
Ereyitomi noted: “This recruitment did not reflect the principles of fairness as enshrined in Section 28(2) of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Act which provides inter alia that the Board shall ensure that the operator or project promoter maintains a reasonable number of personnel from areas it has significant operation.
“While the casualization status of these workers and the non concession to the host communities in the recent recruitment of graduate trainees is a matter before the House Committee on Public Petitions, the management of Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company has gone ahead to lay off over 300 indigenous staff against the clear and unambiguous directive of the federal government that no worker should be dropped or sacked at this precarious time that the country is passing through.”
The lawmaker expressed worry that if the House does not step in immediately to arrest the situation, there might likely be a breakdown of law and order and interruption of the smooth operations of Warri refinery and its subsidiaries.
The House therefore directed, “Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the management of Warri Refining and Petro-chemical Company (WRPC) to reinstate the over 300 persons affected by this action pending the investigation by the House Committee on Public Petitions”.