The commitment by the Federal Government to increasing the local refining capacity, rehabilitate the four nation’s refineries, and promised delivery of licensed modular and regular ones are at the top of major considerations why the organised labour agreed to suspend the industrial strike and protests scheduled to commence on Monday nationwide.
Besides, the government’s acceptance to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the rehabilitation of refineries and delivery of modular ones; played a significant role in settling the crisis.
The inclusion of NUPENG and PENGASSAN leadership, trusted by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), according to Labour would ensure government commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise.
According to a communique signed early Monday morning following hours of negotiation between the Federal Government and Labour, both NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be involved in all the processes leading to a successful implementation of the letters of the agreement reached, through a Validation Team set up by the Federal Government.
The communique said: “All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependence on the importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce the cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.
To address one above, NNPC is to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50% completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.
“To ensure Commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.”
It added: “A Validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advise the Steering Committee periodically.
“Post rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the Nation’s refineries.
“The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, the involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing a framework for financing in the downstream sector.
“NNPC to expedite work on the Build Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of Petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.”
More significantly, a Technical Committee, headed by Barrister Festus Keyamo, the Minister of State for Labour, was established at the meeting to review the policies, examine their justification and work on the issue of palliatives.
The NLC, TUC and especially their affiliate unions have also trusted Barrister Keyamo to handle their issues when it comes to labour issue resolution.
Also, the increase in electricity tariffs was suspended by the government for two weeks, the position which the Organised Labour has canvassed prior to the negotiation.
To also cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the Federal Government has also agreed to implement certain measures.
According to the communique: “A specific amount to be unveiled by the FGN in two weeks’ time will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.
“Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.
“Federal Government will make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.
“Housing; 10% be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.”
The Keyamo led committee is to submit its reports in the next two weeks, commencing from Monday 28, September 2020.