By BIMBOLA OYESOLA
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has accused the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, of being insensitive to the plight of workers in the oil and gas industry. Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 3rd Triennial Delegates Conference of PENGASSAN branch in the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited (PPMC) in Abeokuta, Ogun State on Wednesday, the PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, said that the petroleum minister does not care about the workers in the sector.
He stated that PENGASSAN will support the PPMC branch’s decision to withdraw the services of its members if the government cannot find the killers of the workers, who were attacked by hoodlums and vandals while on a mission to repair damaged pipeline at Arepo, Ogun State. Ogun said, “The minister that has the oversight over the oil and gas industry does not care about the workers since assuming duties, and has never met with the workers.
Every entreaties and efforts to meet with her and tell her our challenges and problems failed because she was not ready to listen.” “We have made several correspondences to the minister to let her know our plights but nothing was achieved, neither has the minister call us to hear us out. We, including our sister union, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), have also tried to reach the minister through the Minister of Employment, Labour and Productivity, but yet no result because of the insensitivity of the Petroleum Minister.”
He also berated the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Andrew Yakubu, for not trying to meet the two unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG, since he assumed office some months ago. “I cannot imagine despite all the problems in our industry, the GMD has not bothered to call the unions to discuss with us on our problems. He should remember that without the workers, there is no NNPC and without NNPC, there is no GMD,” he said.
The union leader said that the National body of PENGASSAN is ready to lead the fight, adding, “When we make the call, let us all be ready to stand up and fight for our liberation.” In his welcome address, the Chairman of PPMC branch of PENGASSAN, Comrade O. S. Sadiku, said that vandals are a threat to PPMC staff and that government has not shown any commitment to end vandalism in the sector. “Human beings, especially our members, should not be used as guinea pigs and killed anyhow in the performance of their lawful and strategic duties. We will withdraw our services if our safety and security is not guaranteed.”