Nigeria becoming a failed state, PENGASSAN warns
• Urges incoming administration to appoint professionals
With challenges ranging from poor standard of living, high poverty, crime rate to increasing unemployment rate, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has warned that the nation is already tending towards a failed state.
The oil workers argued that the past 63 years of the country’s existence have been a story of failed leadership.
PENGASSAN said despite promises by successive administrations, the country has remained in darkness due to a lack of electricity, thereby stifling the growth and investment needed to create jobs and lift people out of poverty.
PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, said this during the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, held in Abuja, where he spoke on the state of the nation.
According to him, the high cost of living and other economic issues have combined to worsen the current situation, leading to an increase in the country’s poverty index.
Giving statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), where out of over 200 million citizens, 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor, he said the failure of the previous and current leaders to manage the resources of the state had failed.
Stating some countries Nigeria started its journey of independence with like Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore, he said the countries have joined the league of industrialised countries and have long overtaken Nigeria despite the nation’s oil wealth.
He said while the rest of the world is racing ahead with modern technology, the nation’s hospitals are unequipped, with doctors armed only with stethoscopes and drips.
To put a stop to the abnormalities, Osifo challenged the incoming administration to do things differently by caring for and valuing the lives of the citizens.
He recommended that key ministries should be headed by professionals and experts.
He said political party loyalty or membership should not be a yardstick for ministerial and institutional appointments.
Corruption, which he said seems to be proliferating, is the cause of the dilapidation of the nation’s institutions and national health.
He lamented the lack of resolve to eradicate it through different means including consequence management.
He said that cases of corruption in and out of government have continued to compound the country’s woes, alleging that resources that are expected to contribute to gradually reducing the poverty rate are siphoned off by a few people, who take advantage of their positions in government.
He urged that the incoming government to carry out due diligence, and appraisals of the operational apparatus of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and other agencies charged with the responsibilities of fighting corruption to make them more effective.
On the state of the refineries, he said functional local refineries would not only increase the nation’s revenue base but would also provide more job opportunities for the youths, as well as end the uncertainties in subsidy regimes and product importation.
While maintaining its support for the full deregulation of the sector and acknowledging the significant milestones achieved, he urged that efforts be made to increase the pace of the current refineries’ rehabilitation and get them back on stream in no time.
He restated the association’s commitment to continue its advocacy on the need to fix the nation’s refineries and with the inclusion of PENGASSAN in the steering committee set up by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said the union would continue its agitation for the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries through engagement with other relevant stakeholders.
He empathised with Nigerians on the hardship currently faced with the scarcity and drastic hike in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) across the country.
Osifo said PENGASSAN has been following up with its members in NNPC Trading Limited, who are responsible for assigning the products to marketers and members from Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), in various depots and terminals across the country that are responsible for issuing cargo clearance, tracking compliance, route inspection, metering calibration/maintenance, accurate delivery to trucks and record keeping, among others, on the need to carry out their functions expeditiously.
He said the union has called on the management of NMDPRA to compel all marketers and retailers to make the products available at approved prices.
He said they were urged to mobilise their workers in various locations across the country to track compliance and anyone found wanting should have their license immediately revoked.
Considering the challenging times, Osifo, at the meeting also tasked members on the need to create a safer industrial environment, even as they fight to get better pay and restoration of dignity in the workplace.