NNPC, strikers, wingers and uncommon sense!
Petroleum, Energy and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) went to the trenches majorly for accumulated cash call to the tune of $7B owed the International Oil Companies, IOC’s over which a sword of mass retrenchment is dangling on the heads of its members. The wisdom to resolve this conundrum lies in the application of uncommon sense since common sense appears to be an ongoing constituency project!
The money owed the IOC’s is an accumulated joint venture cash call designed to protect the country’s investment in the upstream sector through a subsidiary of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. The money required to fund the projects in the sector of which the NNPC is a major partner has not been forthcoming over several years and the IOC’s have had to fund the projects on their own.
It would appear the IOC’s have finally expended their reserves on their several joint venture projects with the NNPC and the only logical thing to do is to wind down in the face of recurrent losses occasioned by a terrible crash in the price of crude oil, decline in the exports of crude oil due to the persistent vandalisation of pipelines by militants which the Federal Government of Nigeria is yet to find a lasting solution to. Drllbytes’ does not believe any well-structured head will blame the IOC’s in this matter.
The entire blame should be directed at the Federal Government! It doesn’t matter whether the present government inherited this or contributed to it, what matters is the resolution of this avoidable chaos. Good a thing the strike has been called off but better still, if a long term solution that involves either the immediate or gradual payments of the money is worked out over a reasonable period of time in other to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs from being lost together with accruable revenues.
It is in the middle of this conundrum and while handing over to his successor that Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the erstwhile Group Managing Director, GMD of the NNPC declared a marginal profit of N274M for the first time in several years. A progressive development on the surface perhaps but beneath the surface, several questions are begging for answers. How was this profit arrived at in view of a crashed market and vandalized facilities? What is our present crude oil reserves like? What is the profitability of the refineries that are presently producing at less than installed capacities? What is the viability of the Petroleum Pipelines Marketing Company, PPMC and the Nigerian Gas Company in view of consistent attacks on pipelines by vandals? How profitable has the Nigerian Petroleum Development Corporation been within the times we live in?
Dr. Ibe Kachikwu is by all means, a technocrat who resigned from his lucrative position as Vice-President of ExxonMobil Corporation to serve his fatherland. A man who needs to engage and re-engage Nigerians in every step he takes and does not take, who needs to inform and carry along critical stakeholders in every innovative policy thrust he stumbles on. It is certain this is one area Nigeria’s Honourable minister of state for Petroleum Resources needs to work seriously on before his well intended “good morning” is interpreted as a vexatious “go to hell”. Being a public servant is a different bowl of pap from being a Vice-President in a private conglomerate.
The strikers in organized labour are there to deal with, the wingers in disorganized labour, the oversight of the national assembly members and ‘gbeborun’ of civil society organizations including interference(s) from the courts. It is believed Dr Kachikwu would have learnt a lot since he got into office and now that he has been relieved of running the NNPC directly, it is hoped he will have more time to concentrate on his reform programs as well as identify/engage stakeholders who will contribute more to his success. This is uncommon sense!
Before PENGASSAN members went on a the one week strike, the issue of job losses in both multinational and indigenous companies servicing the sector had reached a crescendo with the crash of crude oil price as well as the blowing up of several pipelines by vandals. Most of those who lost their jobs are not unionized and if it is an established fact that every unionized member has at least, ten ununionised member servicing the industry which of course, is no business of PENGASSAN or the Trade Union Congress, TUC to which it is affiliated to, then this particular strike should be viewed from the perspective of the unionists. If the IOC’s, for no fault of theirs, are allowed to go ahead with the mass sack of workers, majority of who, are unionized and to which the union collects check-off dues, it would be one stroke too many. Government has to save this sector of its economy from going into oblivion by re-energizing it with the life support of accumulated cash calls. The unionized strikers have gotten assurances that their jobs will be protected and have resumed work together with their ununionised wingers. This is an armistice that will last forever once government fulfils its own side of the joint venture covenant.
That will be another display of uncommon sense!
. Kayode Adeoye is an energy expert in Lagos.