- Warns FG not to take threat lightly
THE Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) warned on Thursday that the Federal Government should not take lightly the recent threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) that oil workers should vacate, immediately, all oil fields and terminals in the Niger Delta region.
Very passionate about the development, President of PENGASSAN Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson, who was speaking at the third Women in PENGASSAN National Conference in Abuja, said the leadership of PENGASSAN was going to a meet with the Federal Government over the threat issued by the Avengers to oil workers.
The Niger Delta Avengers had warned members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the PENGASSAN and foreigners to “leave all oil fields and terminals in the Niger Delta, saying things will get dirty very soon. The group made the declaration in a statement by its spokesperson, self-acclaimed Brig General Mudoch.
However, Comrade Olabode, who addressed journalists on the issue at the venue of the Women in PENGASSAN Conference, said that kind of threat should not be taking lightly; adding, however, that the workers would have to put their feet down.
“We are having a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment. In view of the issue on ground, this is something we should take as priority. That kind of threat is not something that should be taken lightly.
“So, I think we are going to put our feet down. Whatever the issue, let government look for a way to fast track everything and discuss so that there can be peace in this country.
“This is not time for us to start destroying ourselves and our properties and oil installations. We all need to work together as a country so that Nigeria can rise from the ashes of what we are going through.” The PENGASSAN President said.
On the recent strike and the on-going negotiation between the Federal Government and NUPENG and PENGASSAN, Comrade Olabode said the union’s have been having serious meeting with the government, but warned that the strike had only been suspended, and may be resumed if the issues were not addressed properly.
He said: “We have been having series of meetings with the government team. But we also want to implore government that a situation that we have agencies and oil companies behaving as if they are more powerful than the government is not acceptable to the union. Everybody in the union is all Nigerians.
“You cannot have an agreement with the minister, standing in for the President of the Federal Republic, and when it’s time to take action, you say no. We only suspended our strike, if these issues are not addressed properly, we may have to resume the strike.
“Though, we don’t like taking that route. That is why we are imploring every agency of government that whatever agreement reached must be respected. We will abide by our side of the agreement but if they are not ready to honour theirs, we will have no choice than to resume.”
Also on the agreement reached during the negotiation that the oil companies should recall all workers sacks illegally,, the PENGASSAN President said: “We had an understanding, but today what we are hearing is that some of them are reneging, especially FUGRO Nigeria Limited. I must be specific here. They are reneging. If the minister who is standing in for Mr President took a decision and they are reneging, that is an affront on the President of Nigeria. If you know you have no respect for the President then you pack your things and get out of the country.”
On the theme of the third Women in PENGASSAN National Conference: “Exploring Women’s World in the Era of Change,” he said the union present leadership want to affirm their support for involvement of more women in the activities of the PENGASSAN at various levels and the labour Centre, the Trade Union Congress as well as other affiliates of the association.
“We believe in the initiation and implementations of programmes that will add value to our legacies of a united and cohesive PENGASSAN.WE Also believe in the saying that trains a woman and you are training a nation and perhaps the world. We have resolved to do more in this regard,” he said.