Following the oil union’s strike, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has appealed to the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to ward off the strike for the country’s interest.
See Also: PENGASSAN, Oil Workers Commence Strike
In a statement released Sunday night by the ministry’s Deputy Director, Samuel Olowooekere, the Minister said;
“The strikes neither solve industrial disputes nor contribute to industrial growth, especially when the nation’s economy was already suffering from mismanagement caused by previous governments.
“Therefore, the Federal Government urges PENGASSAN to urgently call off the strike so that all sides will freely negotiate.
“I am very optimistic that when we sit for negotiation on Monday, July 11, issues that had led to the situation on the ground will be resolved in the greater interest of the nation.
“A situation where oil workers leave their offices and oil loading bases will not make for an increase in oil exports or make available enough petroleum products in this time of deregulation.
“This will only compound the vandalism in the Niger Delta, occasioning low output and export in our OPEC quota, apart from the unwarranted hardship on the populace.”
Ngige urged Nigerians to avoid panic buying of petroleum products, added that what the nation required at this time is patriotism and continuous dialogue.
Also speaking on the oil union’s strike, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Rivers State, Comrade Chika Onuegbu, told journalists that the on-going strike by PENGASSAN, spells doom for the nation. He threatened that, if by this week, starting Monday, July 11, the Federal Government failed to address the issues that resulted to the PENGASSAN industrial action, the crude export-line would be shut down.
Like the PENGASSAN, the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, has also listed its grievances, demands and conditions for ceasefire, but while Federal Government can possibly resolve the oil union’s strike issues, analysts have expressed doubt on the possibility of resolving NDA’s demands.
NDA wants equitable number of oil blocks for the sons and daughters of the region, which the government has promised to consider. But those other demands as creation of Niger Delta Republic, release of the Biafra’s lead-agitator, Nnamdi Kanu, amongst new conditions being reeled out, analysts still doubt the possibilities of resolving.
In finding an enduring solution to the myriage of challenges confronting the nation’s oil and gas sector, an analyst, Mr. Chidube Bon, believes that the approach must be holistic.
According to Mr. Bon;
“The issue should go beyond addressing the demands of PENGASSAN, the agitations of the NDA and other emerging militant groups in the Niger Delta should make government have a general overhaul of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill before the National Assembly.”
He traced the problem in the sector from the Land Use Act forced on Nigerians by the former military government in the 1970s.
The analyst expressed the view that only a Petroleum Industry Governance Bill that accommodates fairly all genuine interests of the government, oil host communities and other agencies will bring about a sustainable solution to the divergent agitations.