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PENGASSAN, NUPENG kick against proposed sale of refineries

By The Citizen
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The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have condemned the proposed sale of four refineries in 2014 by the Federal Government.

In a statement on Tuesday, the oil workers alleged that the government was deliberately hindering the efficient functioning of the four state-owned refineries in order to sell them to its cronies without considering available options and rational rule for such lucrative business deal.

They said the government was purposely underfunding the refineries, refusing to carry out Turn-Around Maintenance and cutting the supply of crude oil to the refineries so as to have reasons for selling them.

The President, PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun, also disclosed that the workers would resist the move because it was against the national interest.

He said the government should deal with the problem of pipeline vandalism that hampered supply of crude oil to the refineries as well as carry out routine maintenance.

Ogun said, 'The proposed sale of the refineries is against the overall national interest and in the interest of a few, who are lurking around the corridor of power to milk the country dry. How can a country be selling all its national assets all in the name of privatisation? For whose benefit are such sales?

'The controversial Kalu Idika Kalu-led National Refineries Special Task Force also has TAM or rehabilitation of the refineries as part of its recommendations. As we are talking now, nothing has been significantly done.

'Why is the government proposing the sale of these national edifices without doing the needful to ensure that the refineries work at their optimal capacity?

'Nigerians and the general public deserve to know more on the desperate reasons for the spate and row of proposed privatisation, even when the selfish motives of these proposed national assets' sales can spell doom for the country.'

The privatisation of the refineries has been on the front burner since former President Olusegun Obasanjo's regime, when the government, through the Bureau for Public Enterprises, hastily sold the refineries, but the sale was reversed by the late President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Ogun said that those that were planning to sell the refineries and their cronies planning to buy them should emulate Alhaji Aliko Dangote and establish their own refineries instead of waiting to corner the nation's common investment interest for their own selfish interest.

He also stated that instead of privatising the refineries, the government should grant effective incentives to allow for the development of private refineries alongside the existing ones, adding that a framework should be articulated to ensure the availability of the required crude for effective functioning of the refineries.

Ogun added, 'As the privatisation trend continues, the Nigerian public will need to know from the process drivers the number of jobs and investments that have been created as against the reality that some cronies are now being recruited as technical partners to front for the high and mighty as was the case with the Eleme Petrochemicals Company Limited, which the government sold to Indorama for $225m. The mega plant is the second largest in Africa, which, at the time of its sale, was worth about $2.5bn as fair market value.'