There are indications that the fuel scarcity in the nation may worsen following the emergence of leadership tussle in the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, whose members, especially tanker drivers, are involved in the distribution of petroleum products nationwide.
The crisis became apparent following alleged breach of its constitution by the outgoing President, Comrade Achese Igwe and his National Executive Council. The Petroleum Tanker Drivers, an arm of NUPENG is leading agitations to identify the alleged constitutional breach which it said was designed to elongate the tenure of the current executive officers of the union.
A statement signed by Comrade Salimon Oladiti, the Branch National Chairman, PTD and Comrade Sunday Ochibejivwe, Branch National Secretary, PTD, and obtained by Vanguard, gave the Secretariat of the union until March 2018 to convene the National Delegates Conference that would usher in new executives of the union failing which they would be forced to use legal instruments to ensure that the breach is averted.
The PTD disclosed that Comrade Igwe Achese and his team of National Executive Council were elected and duly sworn in, in December 2009 for the first term of four years and re-elected in October 2013 at the Presidential Hotel, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State for tenure of four years for the second term.
It indicated that the Achese-led executive has served the two consecutive terms provided in the union's constitution and legally ended in October 2017.
The Petroleum Tanker Drivers stated that the matter had generated serious debate, but the General Secretary of NUPENG requested for grace of 90 days to convene the National Delegates Conference which was in breach of the union's constitution at a Central Working Committee (CWC) and National Executive Council (NEC) meetings of the union in December, 2017.
It added: "Unfortunately again, the 90 days he requested for, expired on 3rd of March, 2018, yet no date or venue has been communicated to members or branches for the National Delegates Conference. It is very obvious that there is a ploy to create disaffection and avoidable industrial relations crisis looming in the oil and gas industry with all these actions and inactions.
"We are therefore notifying him, that if by March 28, 2018, the National Delegates Conference of the union is not convened, new officers elected and duly sworn-in, the leadership of the PTD Branch of the union will not hesitate to take every necessary step needed to restore the constitutionality and integrity of our great union."
Also, in a letter sent to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Minister of State for Petroleum, Director of State Security Services, Inspector- General of Police, Group Managing Director of NNPC, Registrar of Trade Union, it urged them to urgently apprehend the impending intra union and industrial relation crisis in the oil and gas industry by immediately compelling the General Secretary to convene the National Delegates Conference of NUPENG on or before March 28, 2018.
But the General Secretary of NUPENG, Comrade Joseph Ogbebor, told Vanguard that it was not true that the current executive of the union was adamant to vacate their seats for the new ones to come in.
He also said: "The union has been meeting for several days to fine-tune modalities for the convention of the National Delegates Conference of NUPENG this month in Port Harcourt which would witness the change of baton between the old executive and new ones.
"I can tell you categorically that it was not true the current executive officers of NUPENG are not willing to relinquish power. The president of the union is desirous to ensure seamless transmission of power between his executive and the coming ones. That is why we have been working seriously to ensure the convention of the National Delegates Conference in March this year."