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Union threatens strike over refineries sale

26 November 2013, 10:06Henry Ifeanyi

Lagos - The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) threatened industrial action to resist the planned sales of four oil refineries by government.

PENGASSAN President, Comrade Babatunde Ogun, said that the workers will resist the privatisation of the four state-owned refineries because it is against the national interest.

Last week, Allison Diezani Maduekwe had announced last week that government had approved the outright sales of the refineries in the first quarter of next year.

The announcement is currently generating uproar with several stakeholders condemning the decision of government on the four refineries.

“The proposed sale of the refineries is against the overall national interest and in the interest of the few, who are lurking around the corridor of power to milk the country dry. How can a country be selling all its national assets all in the name of privatisation? For whose benefit are such sales?” asked Ogun.

“If one recalls, the late President Yar’Adua reversed the privatisation of the refineries done by former President Obasanjo, with a promised to carry out Turn-Around Maintenance (TAM) on them to ensure that they are sold not as scrap. On assumption to office, President Goodluck Jonathan also promised to carry out TAM on the refineries. Even the controversial Kalu Idika Kalu-led National Refineries Special Task Force also has TAM or rehabilitation of the refineries to make the refineries work in a safe and reliable manner as part of its recommendations.  As we are talking now, nothing has been significantly done. Why is the government proposing sales of these national edifices without doing the needful to ensure that the refineries work at their optimal capacity? Nigerians and the general public deserve to know more on the desperate reasons for the spate and row of proposed privatisation, even when the selfish motives of these proposed national assets sales can spell doom for the country,” he further quipped.

Ogun said instead of privatising the refineries, government should grant effective incentives to allow for the development of private refineries alongside the existing ones, adding that a framework should be articulated that will make available required crude for effective functioning of local refineries.

“There is need to incentivise and/or compel IOCs to refine an agreed percentage of crude oil in the country. A suggestion is to tie upstream licensing to downstream investment and private ownerships of jetties should be encouraged,” he said.

Ogun added, “As the privatisation trend continues, the Nigeria public will need to know from the process drivers the number of jobs and investment that have been created as against the reality that some cronies are now being recruited as technical partners to front for the high and mighty as was the case with Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited which the Government sold to Indorama for $225million for an mega plant that is the second largest in Africa which at the time of its sale worth about $2.5 billion as fair market value.”

– CAJ News


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