PENGASSAN, NUPENG kick against some provisions in recently passed PIB Bill

• Want inclusion onboard industry regulator, Transition Committee

The two unions in the oil and gas industry, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), on Wednesday, kicked against some provisions in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), recently passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

They also frowned at some very critical areas omitted in the bill as passed by both chambers of the National Assembly, despite the fact that the unions and other critical stakeholders raised and presented such areas of critical interest in their presentations during the public hearing.

Though, the unions said they were fully in consonance with several provisions of the bill, they added that “there are few very important areas we wish to urgently draw the attention of the legislators and stakeholders to for wholesome realisation of the full potentials of the bill.”

In a statement titled: “NUPENGASSAN’s position on recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB),” the unions kicked against a provision in the bill that restrict import license of petroleum products to few refiners and called for caution.

The statement jointly issued by PENGASSAN and NUPENG said “the leadership of the two Unions calls for caution and serious rethink on the provision in the bill that restrict import license of products to only a few Refiners in the country.

This provision will stifle price competition and leave pricing to be solely dictated by a few local refiners which is against the spirit, letters and intent of this bill.

“The bill should be crafted in a manner that will engender competition while also encouraging local refining. We should avoid running from one ugly scenario to an uglier situation that is avoidable.”

The statement was signed by the President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Festus Osifo, his General Secretary, Comrade Lumumba.I. Okugbawa, the President of NUPENG, Comrade Williams Akporeha and the NUPENG General Secretary, Comrade Olawale Afolabi.

It stated that the inclusion of PENGASSAN and NUPENG on the board of the industry regulator(s) is crucial for the attainment of one of the key objectives of this bill, which is to ensure accountability and transparency in the industry.

“All Civil societies and labour strongly clamoured for the inclusion of the two Unions in the sector to be on the board of the regulators for reasons of global best practice currently being practised in most climes. The needs and justifications for this are many and enormous as it will also ensure that the regulators are further strengthened in ensuring that issues bordering on the welfare of workers would have been championed from the cradle of the bill,” it added.

The unions also called for a single regulator in the industry as it’s currently applicable in other industries such as banking, pension, insurance, telecommunication, adding that has shown that few countries that started with dual regulatory agencies in the oil and gas industry had merged into one; having seen the benefits accruable in having a single regulator.

“We have advocated for a single regulator in the industry and are still of the strong view that this would be in the best interest of the industry and the nation at large as it would serve as a one-stop-shop for current and aspiring investors as far as regulatory steering is concerned,” they said

On the issue of investment in alternative energy, the unions said in the wake of the Energy transition, they advocated that the objective of NNPC Ltd. should include research and development, especially into alternative and renewable energies.

NUPENGASSAN also advocated that the PIB should provide sufficient incentives to International Oil Companies (IOCs) and indigenous oil producers to invest in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry, adding that such incentives would help in driving the much-needed local refining.

They advised that operators in the Nigeria Oil and Gas industry should be mandated to dedicate 10 per cent of their annual training budget to provide training for the personnel of Petroleum Training institutes and the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, being the two key institutions that provide manpower to the oil and gas industry.

“As part of our presentation during the public hearing, we alluded to the fact that casualisation of workers in the Oil and Gas industry is gradually killing the industry and we advocated for a clause in the PIB that would help in curbing this trend,” the statement said.

The unions said: “As the Conference Committee of the National Assembly meets, we strongly advocate that these issues are taken on board as they would further enhance the bill and ensure it meets the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.

“The leadership of NUPENGASSAN wishes to draw the attention of stakeholders to the need for the Unions to be fully represented in the Transition Committee. This is to ensure that the issues bordering on workers are effectively taken on board from the onset. This is the only way we could avoid an industrial crisis that could arise if all the I’s are not dotted and T’s crossed.

“Both Unions will resist with all its arsenals should it be overlooked during the Transition Committee.”

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