The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) yesterday warned that should the planned sale of the nation’s refineries by the Federal Government to private investors go ahead, it will not hesitate to call its members out on strike.
PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun said the association will commence the strike in January.
The Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke had last month dropped the hint that the Federal Government will privatize its four state-owned refineries in Kaduna, Warri and [two in] Port Harcourt before the end of the first quarter of 2014.
“We would like to see major infrastructural entities such as refineries moving out of government hands into the private sector”, she was quoted as saying in an interview with a television station in London.
But Comrade Ogun said to make the strike effective, it would also call on its sister union, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to join in the strike.
He told members of the association at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in Abuja Tuesday, that the planned privatisation is an attempt to hand over the nation’s refineries to cronies of the Federal Government.
The PENGASSAN president warned that an indefinite strike will be declared in the first week of January 2014, to press home their demand on the Federal Government not to sell the nation’s refineries in the name of privatization.
“If between now and 24th of this month (December), government does not retract that every statement that has been made has been put on hold while further engagement is made, and everything we have to do is hinged on PIB (Petroleum Industry Bill) by first week of January, be rest assured that PENGASSAN and NUPENG will go on indefinite strike.
“You cannot sell something without a model, without Nigerians knowing exactly what you are doing…the nature in which they do business in the oil and gas industry is fraught with secrecy. There must be a retraction first and it’s what they will make public, so Nigerians will know that it is on hold”, he said.
Information Nigeria reports that this will be the second attempt in the current democratic dispensation to sell-off the refineries to private investors after the first sale in the twilight of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration to cronies was reversed by late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua over lack of transparency in the process.