ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT, PENGASSAN, COMRADE FRANCIS OLABODE JOHNSON TO THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC) MEETING AT …. STATE ON DECEMBER.., 2016
It is with a great pleasure and on behalf of the Central Working Committee (CWC) and members of Our great Association, I welcome you all to this National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, holding in ……. I want to use this rare opportunity to sincerely appreciate all members of the Association
for their support so far since the mantle of leadership was handed over to us and the spirit of solidarity in our collective resolve to surmount the challenges that confront our great Association.
Our Association has come a long way as a model for fostering and prospecting the attainment of decent work agenda but there is still room for improvement on this achievement. This year, in continuance of our growth plans,we are planning a training programme for our NEC members, Branch Secretaries and Branch IROs to avail them and empower them with best practices in global industrial relations. This will come up later in the year. We also embarked on membership drive and expansion programmes by organising more members thereby adding more Branches to our great Association.
Our next focus is the need to have Event Centre in Port Harcourt and Warri, which will be managed by Estate Agents to yield revenue for the Association. We request a resolution from this NEC meeting to enable us execute these plans.Let me also use this occasion to congratulate and welcome some NEC members, who were either re-elected or newly elected during the elections at their various Branches. You are welcome into the fold of leadership of our great Union.
Since the last NEC meeting, there have been several events and happenings within the Association, the industry and the country as a whole, that are affecting the operations of the Oil and Gas industry and by extension the affairs as well as activities of our Association. We are gathered here today to appraise our approach to those events and activities and we are poised to ensure that Government’s policies benefit our members and engender economic growth for our companies, the industry and the country as a whole.
We therefore call for harmony and collaboration from every one of us in order to achieve this objective.
STATE OF THE NATION
NATIONAL SECURITY:We acknowledge the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to improve security in the Country, especially combating Boko Haram insurgency in the country. We condemn in strong term the recent attacks that led to the death of many innocent Nigerians by terrorists parading themselves as herdsmen in various parts of the country, and we are calling on the Federal Government to put an end to this dastard and criminal act. We also demand that the Government and the security Agencies should tackle the recurrences of kidnapping, hostage taking and ritual killings, which have spread to all parts of the country. We also call on the Government to evolve ways of resolving various agitations in different parts of the country, so as to keep Nigeria as one indivisible and cohesive Nation. Security is a job for all Nigerians as we need to provide intelligence report on every suspected movement or activity to the security Agencies.
POWER: The epileptic state of electricity in the country is worrisome, as the situation has further worsened the Power crisis. We therefore call on the Government to find a lasting solution to the problem so that we can jumpstart the Nation’s economy. Without power, there can be no vibrant small and medium scale enterprises to form the fulcrum of the economy and provide the needed platform for employment generation in the country. We condemn recent increment in the electricity tariffs, even against public outcry and court order restraining the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) from doing so. Our position is that such increment can only come after Nigerians have witnessed considerable constant and steady electricity supply. We also call on Mr. President to reverse the increment and revisit the privatisation of the power sector to ensure effective and efficient power supply.
BAD ROADS:On the high level of decay in infrastructural facilities, especially roads in the country, we call on governments at all levels, especially the Federal Government, to embark on urgent repair of roads in their domain to stop the carnage and loss of lives and properties on these roads.
Good road network should also be built to reflect the current realities of the time and meet up with modern standards, with a compliment of a good system.
UNEMPLOYMENT: We call on the Government to put in place sustainable plans to create wealth and jobs. We align with the International Labour Organisation (ILO’s) agenda of using employment to create wealth, eradicate poverty and reduce crimes. Government should create an enabling environment, especially in the Oil and Gas and the manufacturing sectors that can lead to establishment of ancillary companies that produce raw materials as a way to create more jobs. We commend efforts of the Government at resuscitating the Agriculture Sector, but there is still a lot to be done to make it more attractive to absorb the unemployed and other persons interested in venturing into the sector. We also call on the Government to diversify into other sectors, especially mining and tourism to create more jobs and improve the economy.
NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES: We condemned in unequivocal term the non-payment of salaries to some public and civil servants by both the Federal and state governments, as this has brought untold hardship on the workers. Despite receiving the bail-out fund from the Federal Government, some States still owe their workers. We condemn the refusal of these states not to use the bail-out fund for the purpose for which it was granted and demandthatthe full weight of the law be brought on State Governors who diverted such funds to other purposes. We also condemn other employers of labour in other sectors that are in the habit of owing salaries. We therefore call on the National Assembly to put in place legislative instrument to check this ugly trend.
ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR:We commend the Federal Government war against corruption. We call for the cooperation of the judiciary for the Government to succeed in the anti-corruption war. We also canvass that corruption cases be carefully scrutinised and treated with dispatch by the Courts. In the alternative, we suggest that specialised Court should be established for the prosecution of corrupt cases. We also call on the Government to start using funds recovered to develop the economy, especially the Power Sector and other areas yearning for attention.
The ongoing reforms in the industry have been impacting on us as individuals and as anAssociation and for us to be relevant, we need to be more pragmatic and more participatory in the process that will culminate into the growth of the industry.
We commend Mr. President’s efforts at sanitizing the Nation’s oil and gas industry, especially the reorganizing/re-engineering of the various sub-sectors of the industry to enable them function effectively and maximally towards global competitiveness.
JOINT VENTURE FUNDING: The Upstream Sector activities have been greatly recessed by the challenge of funding the operating budget and cash call obligations. Over 50 per cent cut in Joint Venture (JV) funding and irregular release of Cash Call have made the Operators to scale down on the whole spectrum of the Exploration and Production (E&P) operations. The renewed commitment by the Government under President MuhammaduBuhari to settle issues surrounding JV funding is critical.
The inability by the Government to fulfil its obligation of funding the Joint Venture has affected our members. Many companies have divested from the Country due to lack of funding. Many Companies especially the International Oil Companies (IOCs) are unable to further invest into the JV operations, while many jobs are on the line due to lack of activities in the oil fields.
The NEC-in-Session must take a decisive action to arrest this ugly trend as some of the IOCs are thinking of delaying payment of salaries to the detriment of the survival of the industry. THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.
Government should wake up to its responsibilities by funding JV operations, especially now that Nigeria wants to expand its frontiers in the North East Chad River Basin.
INCREASING LOCAL REFINING:We commend efforts of the President MuhammaduBuhari led administration to ensure that the Refineries are back on stream to boost local refining capacity and resist the call in some quarters to sell the Refineries as scrap. We strongly reiterate our support for the retention of the State-owned Refineries in the best interest of the Nigerian nation and for economic security as well as to keep faith with OPEC’s principle that member countries should have good grip of the commanding height of their economy.
We are sure that it is only with the efficient and effective functioning of the Refineries that the Government can end the unnecessary importation of petroleum products into the Country, bring down prices of refined products and permanently deal with issues of perennial fuel scarcity and queues that have now become the order of the day in the Country, where man-hours are wasted in looking for these products. This can also help in ending the subsidy regime. We demand therefore a viable business model to ensure that Refineries perform effectively and efficiently.
One of the major challenges that have hampered the effective and efficient functioning of the Refineries is the inadequate supply of crudeto the plants. We are calling on the Government to intensify its efforts to deal with the issue of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism that have been crippling the effectiveness and efficiency of the plants.
Another challenge is the refusal by the Government to adhere to prompt and periodic Turn-Around Maintenance (TAM) of the Refineries. Recent visits to the Plants by the leadership of the Association revealed that the Drum and Petrochemical Plants, among others, need urgent overhauling, while repairs should be carried out in areas that are necessary in all the Plants at Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna. We urge the Government to strictly adhere to the TAM to prevent further decay of these Refineries.
We therefore demand that adequate authority and financial autonomy be granted to Refineries’ Managements to boost operational effectiveness. This is to enable the Managements to promptly and adequately service any part of the Plants that require attention without unnecessary delay.
Government must do the needful to explore viable avenue for establishment of more private sector-driven Refineries to enable Nigerians benefit from the hydrocarbon resources, by ensuring that investors have an investment-friendly environment.
CRUDE OIL THEFT AND PIPELINE VANDALISM: Despite the current war against pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, the effect has not been felt as there is still a colossal loss of national revenue owing to these criminal activities. Aside from all the machineries being put in place by the Government, we call on the multinational oil companies and the Government to invest more in modern technologies to check the incidence of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft. We urge the Government not to privatize or give concession on the Pipelines so as not to put our national assets in private hands and as a result further jeopardize the nation’s security and survival.
We also call on the Government to evaluate the pipelines’ integrity and proffer solution.It is our expectation that pipeline integrity will be sound enough to enable safe transportation of crude and products all over the country. Pipeline installation can now be done using state of the art technology in a manner that will be inaccessible to vandals. We also expect the managers of the pipelines to imbibe the culture of regular maintenance while Government lives up to its responsibility of providing adequate security for these national assets.
The Government should ensure strict enforcement of pipeline right of way, while troubled pipeline spots like Arepo and Atlas Cove should be cleared of obstructions and a security agency network be established in such areas for effective monitoring of the pipelines.
The Government should find ways of dealing with compromise by some security personnel that are posted to protect the pipelines, while maximum sanctions should be exacted on those found guilty of these criminal acts to serve as deterrent to others.
The Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB): We take cognisance of the new efforts by the National Assembly to initiate the process of speedy passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which delay in its passage has been a disincentive to investments in Nigeria oil and gas industry. Nigeria has lost so much revenue that could have accrued to the Government’s coffer, as existing investments are stalled and new investments are not taking place. We urge synergy among all stakeholders in the industry, especially the Executive and Legislative arms of Government to give priority to the passage of the enabling legislative framework given its importance to the nation’s oil and gas industry. We suggest an all-inclusive industry Stakeholders’ Summit to ensure that various stakeholders’ inputs,especially NUPENG and PENGASSAN positions, are represented in the Bill and the national interest is well protected.
With Nigeria’s population, gas can be exploited to serve the Nation’s multipurpose energy needs to supplement for petrol output per day. We are calling on the Government to fully reappraise the Gas Master Plan and incentivize gas multipurpose usage across socio-economic value chain. Government should further extract commitment from Oil Companies on gas flare-down to a nearest predictable timeline.
This is the most auspicious moment to optimally explore and produce gas to maximizing foreign exchange earnings in the export market and also meet the growing demands for power generation, industrial and domestic needs.
One major hindrance of delivering effective power to the Nation is lack of gas to power the turbines and other generating plants. This is caused by the vandalism of the gas pipelines by criminals. This is why we are saying that the Government should evolve more pragmatic strategies to end pipeline vandalism and crude theft in Nigeria. Government should develop a policy that will make the country a gas processing hub in the West African sub-region.
JOB SECURITY:We appreciate the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment under the Honourable Minister, Dr.Chris Ngige and the late Minister of State, Barrister James Ocholi SAN, to stem the wave of redundancy in the industry especially in the International Oil Companies (IOCs). We demand in strong terms that the Committee set up under the leadership of the Late Barrister James Ocholi be revived to address all the issues it was set up for. As a major stakeholder in the oil and gas industry, we are calling on NAPIMS to put in place a clear policy statement against frequent redundancy plans by operators as a result of fluctuation in crude oil prices. We have resolved to resist the growing redundancy tendency in the industry. PENGASSAN will not tolerate this unacceptable and unprocedural redundancy quagmire as a way out of the evils of the fluctuating crude oil prices.
EXPATRIATE QUOTA & NIGERIA OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY CONTENT DEVELOPMENT ACT:There is need to review the process of granting Expatriates work permit into Nigeria to make it more transparent and its compliance needs to be monitored. Any expatriate coming to Nigeria must add value and be ready to respect the Understudy Clause as well as train Nigerians. We are therefore advocating for the establishment of a special stakeholders’ committee comprising of the Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the labour unions to recommend and approve expatriates permit to check expatriate quota abuse. We are also calling on the Government to exert appropriate sanction against any defaulting employer. The issue of NOGICD should not be limited to the name or material components of jobs alone but should be on increasing the number of Nigerian employees ontop management positions and transfer of knowledge.
CASUALISATION, CONTRACT STAFFING AND DECENT WORK AGENDA:We call on the Government to be practical towards the implementation of the Guidelines on Contract and Casual Staffing in the Oil and Gas Industry so as to ensure that Managements treat all employees equally, irrespective of whether they are casual, contract or permanent employment system. There is also need for Managements to implement the decent work agenda.
Let me admonish us to continue to work as a team to enable us tackle most of the industry and labour relations challenges confronting us as a Trade Union and as individuals. We need to agree that we must continue to strive to take PENGASSAN to greater height in terms of service delivery, organization, competent manpower and right technology. As a movement, we have come to appreciate the need to continually respond to national, industrial and labour relations dynamics for us to remain a trade union of relevance. It is my appeal and hope that all members will continue to give us greater support and solidarity towards the much-needed concerted efforts as we deal with the labour, industry and national issues. We call for concerted efforts by putting aside our differences and work to protect as well as defend the Association ideals and objectives at all levels of governance.
I wish us all a fruitful deliberation.
Long Live PENGASSAN.
Comrade Francis O. Johnson.
May 12th, 2016