Reps worried by the looming crisis in the oil and gas sector and the threat by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to embark on strike, the House of Representatives Joint Committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Petroleum (Downstream) and Gas Resources yesterday summoned the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Also to appear before the lawmakers today are the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Joseph Thlama Dawah, and the leadership of PENGASSAN and NUPENG workers.
In a statement signed by the Chairmen of the three committees, Muraina Ajibola (Petroleum Upstream), Dakuku Peterside (Petroleum Downstream) and Bassey Ewa (Gas Resources), the move is to avert the planned strike by NUPENG and PENGASSAN, which, according to the lawmakers, can cripple the nation’s oil and gas sector.
The statement reads in part: “The Joint Oil and Gas Committee of the House of Representatives is concerned by the planned strike as reported in the media, by staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“Our concern is driven by the major role oil and gas plays in our economy and the enormous damage any disruption in the system will cause for the Nigerian people.
“Alive to our constitutional responsibilities, the Joint House Committees on Oil and Gas have decided to intervene in this matter with a view to resolving whatever the issues may be.
“Accordingly, we have invited the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the affected unions and relevant stakeholders in the sector to a meeting for today at 11: 00am at the House of Representatives.
Given the urgency of this matter, it is our hope that the relevant parties will attend this meeting. We enjoin the parties to work with us to resolve their differences in the overall interest of the nation,” the statement said.
Recall that NNPC workers had under the aegis of umbrella unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG, shut down operations nationwide over irregular funding of their pension scheme, which has led to about N85 billion deficit.