PENGASSAN rejects unbundling of NNPC

Terver Dominic, Lagos

Senior staff in the oil and gas industry have opposed the plan by the Federal Government to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The workers described the plan as an arbitrariness of the executive power by the government.

Reacting to the pronouncement made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu on Thursday at the Oloibiri Lecture in Abuja, the workers said the plan can send wrong signal to the investment world.

Kachikwu had been reported to say that the government will carry out unbundling of the NNPC into 5 Regional Corporation and 30 companies as part of the ongoing restructuring at the national oil company. The report also quoted the Minister as saying that the positions of Group Executive Directors (GEDs) will be phased out.

Speaking on the issue, acting General Secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Lumumba Okugbawa, said that the move by the government will be tantamount to policy summersault on the part of the government.

Okugbawa said the unbundling plan will stave off investors from the nation’s oil and gas industry at this time when the nation needs foreign investment most to grow the industry, which currently is the mainstay of the economy.

He explained that the government did not take into consideration the existing law that established the NNPC before planning to unbundle the corporation.

He said, “There is an existing NNPC Act of 1977 that set up the NNPC. This Act has many provisions that deal with structure and operations of the corporation.

“There are many issues such as pensions and transfer of the employees, which are provided for in the NNPC Act of 1977. What will happen to all these provisions of the law?

“For the government to do anything with the current NNPC, the Act must either be repealed or amended to accommodate the planned restructuring. If not done, it will be equal to lack of respect for the rule of law on the part of the government.

“The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) that is expected to be the legal instrument for the ongoing reforms of the Oil and Gas industry will be meaningless if the Government should introduce plans outside the reforms, The PIB is germane to the development of the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.

“Above all, the various stakeholders, especially the unions should be involved before any major change is carried out in the organisation and before any unilateral statement capable of heating up the industrial climate is made.”

The PENGASSAN acting General Secretary reiterated the Association’s call for an all-inclusive Stakeholders’ Forum where all issues confronting the industry can be looked into with solutions proffered to them.

Nnenna.O