Fuel Hoarding: HURIWA Says Nupeng And Pengassan Are Losing Credibility

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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A democracy inclined Non-Governmental organization-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA[HURIWA] has alerted the two unions in the nation's crude oil and petroleum sector-PENGASAN AND NUPENG that their continuous breach of public trust by embarking on meaningless and endless industrial actions resulting in concomitant non-availability and artificial scarcity of petroleum products by dealers will sound the death knell on the little credibility left of them in the minds of the majority of patriotic Nigerians.

The Rights group has therefore urged the unions to review their collective bargaining strategy to tailor with global best practices and avoid the consistent mass infliction of hardship and social hysteria on the general public especially towards each major religious festivities. HURIWA has called on the two unions to call off the on-going strike in the interest of the general and peace loving public who are already weighed down heavily by the seemingly consistent armed terrorist attacks by the Northern based banned armed Islamic extremists and also economically impoverished by the dwindling value of the national currency.

Specifically, the petroleum and natural gas senior staff association of Nigeria [PENGASSAN] and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and natural gas workers[NUPENG] recently embarked on a three days warning strike to compel the passage of the pending Petroleum Industrial Bill [PIB] and other sundry industrial demands relating to their members' welfare and terms of engagement.

But the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA [HURIWA] which stated that industrial action such as strike is a fundamental right of workers but added that the resort to such extreme measure by union leaders/members must follow strict discretionary standards which must comply with global best practices rather than the current incessant abuse of industrial strike by the two petroleum unions almost on daily basis even over an issue such as the function within the legislative purview of the National Assembly just as the Rights group affirmed that the current strike which has gravely incapacitated and crippled economic activities and has exacerbated fuel hoarding by dealers of the products all across the major cities around the country in a bid to make quick profits is immoral and outrageous.

HURIWA in the media statement signed jointly by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf accused the leaderships of NUPENG and PENGASSAN of profiting from their collective unleashing of largely unmerited and wanton punishment of the general public by constantly embarking on irrelevant strike actions to in some ways help their cronies who are the fuel marketers to access the fast lane of milking dry the already dried pockets of the suffering masses of Nigeria.

The Rights group also carpeted the Federal Government for always standing by and doing nothing to nip in the bud such meaningless and reckless industrial actions not through muzzling of freedom of association but rather through a democratic and legally allowed process of constructive dialogue mechanisms. ''It appears like certain forces within government are benefitting also from the frequent strike actions in the heavily corrupt petroleum sub-sector of the economy because facts have emerged to show that majority of the companies that are running the petroleum products dealership around the country are controlled by top federal and state government functionaries.

Not long ago the Ekiti state governor Ayo Fayose revealed that the embattled state house of assembly speaker is allegedly a leading petroleum marketer in the state capital. It is also a fact that most national and state legislators and cabinet level ministers have large stakes in majority of the petroleum marketing companies''.

HURIWA stated further: ''Why there are constant strike actions in the last couple of months is that there is a disconnect between the Federal Ministry of Labour and productivity and the Nigerian workers and this organized confusion has thrown up a compromised mechanism of selecting the leaderships of most trade unions and these hierarchies are dominated by forces that are not pro-poor and pro-people but rather persons with some clandestine economic and political agenda meant to undermine the economic wellbeing of the well over 90 per cent of the Nigerian population working in the informal sector and most of whom do not belong to any of the so-called contraptions called registered trade unions.

The Labour sector must be reformed and the Nigerian people must take their destiny in their hands and stop relying on these trade unions whose stock in trade is to constantly trade off the collective interest of the general public at the slightest opportunity of dialogue with government. Enough of these shenanigans of constant reckless invocation of the strike provisions by these shylocks.''