CAJ News Agency (Johannesburg)

13 March 2014

Nigeria: Oil Workers Kick Against Sale of Refineries

Lagos — The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) is opposed to the government's plans to privatize the country's four oil refineries.

The President of NUPENG, Achese Igwe, said he was surprised that government was contemplating on such action when the Petroleum Minister, Deziani Alison-Madueke, had earlier promised that the refineries would not be sold.

“NUPENG will resist any attempt by the Federal Government to go back on the agreement signed with the unions on January 7, 2014 in Abuja that the nation's refineries will not be privatized,” he said.

Achese said that in a Memorandum of Understanding signed at the end of the meeting, the trade unions in the oil and gas sector agreed with the Federal Government to engage in social dialogue to develop viable and workable business models for the nation's refineries.

“By now deciding to privatize the refineries, government has reneged on it side of the agreement. The union makes bold to say that billions of Naira had been budgeted and purportedly spent on the Turn Around Maintenance of the refineries with nothing to show for it.

"We state that the refineries must be rehabilitated to work optimally, which will account for at least 70 percent of domestic production, instead of selling the nation's strategic assets.”

Achese said the minister should instead concentrate on ensuring the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill which he said would open the sector to investors to establish more refineries.

He stressed that the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill would ensure transparency and accountability, and boost investors' confidence. - CAJ News

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