Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Sunday vowed that they would resist any attempt by the Federal Government to sell some of its stakes in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
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According to the Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Mr. Emmanuel Ojugbana, the union would not support the sale of NNPC’s assets.
The statement by the PRO is coming on the backdrop of a proposal by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources on Thursday, suggesting the sale of the government’s stakes in NNPC.
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The Punch reports that the petroleum ministry had released a draft policy document on the reform of the oil sector on November 10, in which it proposed the sale of some of its stakes in the national oil firm.
In the proposal, the petroleum ministry stated that a newly formed corporation could sell the stake “so long as the government shareholder retains effective control and ownership.”
However, in his reaction, Ojugbana said:
“Actually, the government is trying to revisit the Petroleum Industry Bill and that may have to do with the draft document being reported. But we have not engaged with them in order to know the implication of what is in the draft or the bill. However, we have already made our position clear and I’m restating it that we are not in support of any attempt to sell our national assets.
“But if there are other policies of government that will enhance the oil and gas industry, we are in support of that. So, we need to understand what the draft proposal is all about and then we will make our contributions. But as per the sale of assets, PENGASSAN is completely against it and should be counted out.
“We are not in support of the sale of our national assets; we will only give support to policies that aim to create adequate governance structures, as this will provide more business opportunities, which is good for the Nigerian people. In times like this, the government should not consider the sale of assets belonging to the NNPC, for we will oppose it seriously.”
Lending his voice on the issue, the Secretary-General, PENGASSAN, Mr. Lumumba Okugbawa, said the union did not know which subsidiary of the NNPC might be put up for sale, but stressed that oil sector workers would resist the move.
He said, “Our position still remains the same that they cannot sell our national assets. It is not to be allowed. We don’t have the details of which company they want to sell in the NNPC. Is it the Kaduna, Warri or Port Harcourt refinery? Is it a different subsidiary of the NNPC, or is it the entire NNPC? These are things we need to find out.
“But no matter what it may be, our position stays and it is that the government should not be allowed to sell our collective national assets. There should be better ways to handle things, not by selling our national assets. So, we look forward to having better dialogue with the government.”