Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: Why NUPENG Suspended Strike

Photo: John Abayomi/Vanguard
Protest against removal of petroleum subsidy (file photo)

Abuja — Nigeria Union Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, yesterday suspended its planned nationwide strike that would have commenced today, following confirmation that the Federal Government has been paying all verified claims and will continue to pay all claims so verified.

After two days of rigorous negotiations, stakeholders including marketers, Labour and the Federal Government, NUPENG agreed to suspend the planned strike.

The resolutions signed at the end of the meeting by all the parties, stated that:

"The meeting between FG, NUPENG, NLC and marketers was cordial, fruitful.

"FG and unions agreed to work together towards finding a lasting solution to all the issues in dispute.

Impact of fuel scarcity in Abuja and it environment. Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

"FG, and the unions agreed that all those accused of involvement in the fuel subsidy scam should endeavour to submit to on-going verification exercise.

"The meeting confirmed that the Federal Government has been paying all verified claims and will continue to pay all claims so verified.

"The meeting set up two sub-committees to look into issues concerning unfair labour practices in Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and penalty clauses in PPPRA rules.

"FG agrees to provide the platform for labour, government and all critical stakeholders to meet and discuss efforts being made towards the provision of infrastructure and rehabilitation of the refineries with a view to finding a way forward.

"The meeting agreed on continuous engagement between the Federal Government and labour unions.

"The marketers agreed to keep their facilities open and pay the salary of their workers.

"The meeting agreed to meet in two weeks to review the status of implementation."

The Federal Government delegation was led by the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim.

FG negotiation team

According to Vanguard source, those at meeting included Minister of Finance, and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi, Okonjo-Iweala; Labour Minister, Chief Emeka Nwogu; Group Managing Director, GMD, of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and Executive Secretary of Petroleum Product Pricing and Regulatory Agency,PPPRA.

Labour was led by Acting President of NLC, Comrade Promise Adewusi, with the Acting General Secretary, Comrade Chris Uyot. Others were President, Acting General Secretary and Treasurer of NUPENG respectively, Comrades Igwe Achese, Isaac Aberare and Williams Akporegha.

Representatives of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, IPMAN; Jetties and Petroleum Tank Farms Owners of Nigeria, JEPTFON; Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, DAPPMA and Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, also attended the meeting.

It would be recalled that NUPENG had on Monday given the Government up till yesterday to pay subsidy claims to verified oil marketers mainly members of IPMAN, JEPTFON, DAPPMA and MOMAN, who were claiming N200billion unpaid subsidy claims, or members would begin an indefinite strike from today.

The union had lamented that members who are employees of these marketers were not only at risk of losing their jobs, but had not been paid since the past five months.

At a briefing in Lagos, President of NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese, demanded the resignation of the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, accusing her of not only undermining the transformational agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, but also paying subsidy claims to "portfolio importers" because of their closeness to corridors of power.

Achese had equally dismissed insinuations that the union was being used by marketers, arguing that not even the government could use it. He said NUPENG was fighting for the interest of members who had not been paid for the past five months because of the unpaid subsidy claims.

According to him, "NUPENG cannot and will never be used by the Federal Government, institutions, companies because we are stakeholders in the industry. The fight and struggle for the enthronement of democracy in this country during the June 12, 1993 struggle cannot be in vain. The struggle for the emancipation of Nigerians from the hands of the military cannot be rubbished or swept under the carpet by some Ministers. The Minister should in fact resign and go back to her Breton-woods institution so that genuine patriots can come on board to move the nation forward. It is our firm belief that His Excellency, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the number one worker of our great country, Nigeria, will heed this clarion call in order to move the transformation agenda forward."

Subsidy Payments

"It is against this back-drop that we call on the Minister of Finance to pay all outstanding subsidy payments to the NNPC and the private depot owners, who are been asked by the same government to import fuel. We state that the failure of the Minister to meet the NNPC and marketers' payment obligation is a ploy to create hardship for Nigerians.

"This is a plan for them to put-up the refineries for privatisation to their cronies at ridiculous rates. That is why we are asking the Minister the rationale behind the selective 'payments of the subsidy claims."

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