Oil workers’ unions yesterday shut down the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, nationwide, apparently in protest over the unbundling of the Corporation, announced,Tuesday by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu.
The unions are; the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN.
Workers at the NNPC headquarters in Abuja were stopped from entering their offices at the NNPC Towers at the highbrow central business district.
Attempt to get the union leaders to speak proved abortive as they all declined to speak to the media.
One of the NNPC staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the union shut the office claiming that they were not consulted on the process of unbundling of the corporation.
“We heard that our leaders are in a meeting and they will brief us by 4 pm,” she said.
There was police presence and most of the workers were seen sitting outside the towers awaiting directives from the union leaders.
It would be recalled that NUPENG and PENGASSAN in separate statements on Tuesday said the move to unbundle the corporation was an attempt to provoke the oil and gas workers and cause industrial unrest in the country.
“We condemn the unilateral action of the Minister of State, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, as the decision is not in consonance with the laws establishing the NNPC.
“The unbundling and rebranding of NNPC as announced by the Minister of State is another public policy change which is not consistent with the Act and Laws establishing NNPC and will be resisted by oil and gas workers in the country.
“NUPENG will not tolerate a situation whereby the unbundled companies will now hide under the cover to start disengaging its workers,” it said.
Also, the spokesman of PENGASSAN, Comrade Babatunde Oke said, “Operations at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation have been grounded nationwide. We were not consulted before the decision was taken. As a result, we have asked our members in NNPC to withdraw their services until the Minister is ready to engage us on the matter.”
Kachikwu on Tuesday announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the unbundling of the corporation into four units.
The units; are Upstream Company, Downstream Company, Refinery Company, Gas and Power Company.
According to him, the Upstream Company will now comprise NPDC and the IDSL, while the Downstream Company consists of Retail, NPMC and NPSC.
The Refinery Company, he said, would consist of WRPC, KRPC and PHRC, while the Gas and Power is now made up of NGPTC, NGMC and Gas and Power Investment.
Kachikwu said the Federal Government had approved the appointment of Chief Executives for the companies in person of Bello Rabiu as Chief Executive Officer of the Upstream Company.
Others are: Henry Ikem Obih for Downstream; Anibor Kragha for Refineries and Saidu Mohammed for Gas and Power.
Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of NNPC, Mr Ohi Alegbe, confirmed that the protesting workers also denied him entry into his office.
He said that when the management of the corporation met, it would comment on the development.
Senate: Buhari’s unbundling Of NNPC ‘Illegal’
Lawmakers of both chambers of the national assembly have expressed dissatisfaction with the recent reforms at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the senate particularly describing it as “illegal”.
Last week, Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, announced that the federal government was planning to unbundle the corporation into profitable companies.
Responding, the house of representatives mandated its committee on petroleum to ensure that the unbundling was not carried out.
According to online newspaper, TheCable, this followed the motion of Agom Jarigbe, representative of Ogoja/Yala constituency in the house of representatives, arguing that the president ought to have sent an executive bill to the assembly before any restructuring.
However, on Tuesday, Kachikwu announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the unbundling of the corporation into seven independent units.
He listed the new units as upstream, downstream, refineries, ventures, gas and power, corporate planning and services, and finance and accounts, disclosing the names of the new heads of the units.
Commenting on the development at plenary on Wednesday, Olusola Adeyeye, chief whip of the senate, described the exercise as “illegal”.
Adeyeye urged the senate to investigate the issue, wondering why the federal government did not consult the national assembly “before repealing the enabling law that set up the organisation”.
Apart from the lawmakers, some oil workers are also unhappy with the restructuring.
On Wednesday, members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) shut down the operations of the NNPC nationwide in protest of Tuesday’s unbundling.
Members of staff and management of the corporation arrived their various offices to discover that they could not gain entrance following the total strike.
The immediate impact of the strike will be nationwide fuel scarcity as products will not be lifted by NUPENG.