refinery1lIn apparent disregard of calls by oil workers’ unions to halt the planned sale of Nigeria’s four refineries, the Federal Government at the weekend began execution of the privatisation timetable.

The oil workers say the plan is another ploy to hand over the assets to fronts and cronies of the Presidency, and have threatened strong resistance, while expressing a resolve to frustrate the sale.

The workers, under the umbrella of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and its Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) counterpart, accuse government officials deliberately sabotaged the Turn-Around Maintenance, TAM, and supply of crude to the refineries to have reasons to sell them.

Unperturbed by the opposition, a source at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, told **Daily Independent** that the Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke has been given go-ahead by the Presidency to liaise with the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the sale.

“The Minister has the backing of the Presidency on this sale and as it is the execution of time table for the sale has begun in earnest,” the source said.

“In line with the timetable, the minister has schedule a meeting with the labour unions’ leaders in the oil industry. She will lead the government’s officials who will include the Minister of Labour, Emeka Wogu, the Director General, BPE Benjamin Dikki to the meeting, which date will be announced shortly,” he added.

Alison-Madueke hinted newsmen on this meeting in a speech at the flag-off of bid round for 31 new Marginal fields.

She said adequate room has been made in the privatisation time-table for engagement with all stakeholders to resolve all labour issues to ensure a win-win situation for all.

The Minister reiterated government’s stance to move away from managing major infrastructure, adding that government was going ahead with the original plan to rehabilitate the refineries so as to be able to get a premium price from their sale.

However, oil workers insisted that the well-meaning Nigerians must join hands with organised labour to ensure that the refineries are not handed over to fronts and cronies of the Presidency.

Operating under the aegis of NUPENGASSAN (a fusion of NUPENG and PENGASSAN), the unions proposed the option of strategic partnership between government and Organised Private Sector, OPS, or the modified Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas, NLNG, model with a national oil company, NOC, as owners of the four refineries holding a 49 equity share, while core investors hold 51.

“This planned outright sale is uncalled for, inimical to economy and Nigeria as a nation. It will only benefit the officials of government who are pushing for the sale as their fronts and cronies are already being positioned to buy the refineries as scrap”.

 

[Daily Independent]

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