As part of efforts to ensure industrial harmony in the oil and gas sector, the leadership of the two apex unions in the industry, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), paid a courtesy visit to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, mni in his office recently.
In his address to the gathering, the Permanent Secretary stated that it is an honor and a good opportunity to meet with the leadership of PENGASSAN and NUPENG. As a way of charting a new course for a crisis-free oil and gas sector, Gwarzo implored the union leaders to always identify grey areas of possible friction between government and unions with a view to resolving them, thereby making protests and industrial actions needless. In his words, “it is very shameful for a system to wait until problems strikes before it start responding”.
Speaking further, Gwarzo advocated for progress as against protest and proactive planning in place of reaction, as the new paradigm in government-oil and gas union relations.
In his remarks, the president of PENGASSAN, Comrade Festus Osifo congratulated the Permanent Secretary on his deployment to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. On instilling harmony in the oil and gas sector, Osifo said that sincerity of purpose, trust and communication are the basis upon which the associations’ anchors their engagements with government. He stated that protests and strike actions were usually a last resort after engagements and consultations had failed.
On the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and the recently constituted steering committee saddled with the task of overseeing the implementation of the Act, Osifo said that it will be good for the union to be involved in the PIA implementation process.
On his part, the President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Williams Akporeha bemoaned the prevailing trend of casualization of labour by the International Oil Companies (IOCs), a development he said is inimical to the welfare and interest of union members.
The union leaders were unanimous in appealing to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to take her rightful place in managing the affairs of workers in the oil and gas industry.
The Permanent Secretary, reacting to the concerns of the union leaders on the lack of consultation and representation in the steering committee for the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, allayed their fears and assured that the interests of all stakeholders will be adequately catered for in the PIA.
On the subject of casualization of labour, Dr. Gwarzo said he will need to schedule a meeting with the International Oil Companies (IOCs) before taking a position. He also enjoined the unions to invest in building the capacities of their members as a way of gaining relevance in the industry.
Deputy Director (Information)
Ministry of Petroleum Resources