Abuja - Queues of motorists jostling to buy petrol resurfaced at most filling stations in Abuja on Monday following an unconfirmed report that oil workers have embarked on a nationwide strike.
The queues were noticed in the afternoon around the city centre shortly after the workers were said to have announced the commencement of the strike.
The workers were called out on the strike after ongoing discussion between their leaders and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) management over unresolved pension issues was deadlocked.
It was learnt that the workers’ unions - Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) – declared the strike at about 1 p.m.immediately after the negotiation failed.
Leaders of both unions were said to have ordered out all staff of NNPC out of their offices at the corporation’s headquarters in Abuja and threatened to shut the premises.
The situation was, however, checked by security personnel hurriedly drafted to the NNPC Towers.
The news of the development made motorists to jostle for petrol, obviously to stem the hardship that might result if they strike really commenced.
At about 2 p.m. many filling stations in Wuse, Utako and Central Business areas had already recorded long queues of vehicles.
Efforts to reach officials of the two unions proved abortive as the security operatives at the entrance to NNPC barred newsmen from entering the premises.
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They could also not be reached on telephone, especially President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, whose telephone appeared to have been switched off.
The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Department of NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, said that he was in a meeting over the matter and that a statement would be issued at the end of the meeting.
Negotiation between the workers’ leaders and NNPC management resumed at about 3.30 p.m. after the initial face-off.