Forum Urges Govt to Engage PENGASSAN, NUPENG, Others to Birth a New PIB
The Federal government and the National Assembly has been urged to engage Pengassan, Nupeng, and other critical oil and gas stakeholders to birth a new Petroleum Industry Bill(PIB) to check deficiencies in the sector.
The forum, in a webinar series organised by AfriTAL, a non-governmental organization, disclosed this in a communique issued at the end of the robust discussion.
The discussion, which centred on “Post COVID-19: Oil and Gas Industry Challenges and Prospects” was carried out under AfriTAL’s Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry initiative .
According to the forum, the new Bill would promote good governance, allow for indigenous participation and revitalizing the midstream and downstream operations.
The experts also said the new PIB would make provisions for the protection of the environment, emplace fiscal regimes that will at the end attract investors and address community concerns.
The forum regretted that a situation where nobody knows where the PIB document is presently, is worrisome.
They also posited that “With climate change, the world is gradually reducing the use of fossil fuels with serious implications for the industry”, adding that COVID 19 has now come with its own deep dive complications and complexities.
The communique noted that the development has brought new challenges to the world of work, family lives and the ways industrial relations are managed.
They noted that workers must move with the changing times by thinking outside the box if they must move out of the deep.
It was the concern of the forum that Companies and employees, who would survive the post COVID 19, require great deal of new social skills in negotiation and technology, stressing that the degree to which companies would survive, shall be dependent on employees’ competence and managers’ empowering people to take decisions either from home or at work.
The forum further argued that no matter how much companies’ say they care, there are COVID 19 imposed financial and social dilemmas, which would bring about conflicts between unions and management and to successfully manage the conflicts, it will require that unions and management should collaborate, cooperate and hang together.
Topics covered during the discussions were(i) Managing industrial relations in challenging times by Dr. Steve Ojeh, an oil and gas industrial relations’ expert; and (ii) Repositioning the oil and gas industry for post COVID-19 recovery by Israel Aye, a Lawyer, energy advisor and an entrepreneur of repute.
The forum also noted that while the unions in the oil and gas sector are not averse to the deregulation of the downstream sector, it however said the deregulation should not be based on dollar and import driven process.
It was the position of the experts that subsidy regimes in the petroleum sector have been abused and has become a major source of corruption, economic sabotage and the hemorrhaging effect is disastrous to the country.
They called on government that there would be no need to move from the regime of subsidy into another modulation mode, as Price modulation and control would still breed corruption.
The recommended that in order to give the pronouncement on subsidy the teeth of law, Government needs to move from mere pronouncement to the realm of law, by amending section 6(1) of the Petroleum Act, which vests the power of intervening in petroleum product pricing on the Minister of Petroleum Resources. Both Pengassan President and Nupeng President were panelists at the occasion.
PENGASSAN President, Comrade Nduka Ohaeri in accepting to cooperate and collaborate with critical stakeholders, called on them to stand up to their responsibilities as he said “though the unions have the responsibilities of wearing both the national caps and looking at the business, we shall however, not be cowed or cajoled into taking actions or speaking for government or speaking for our employers, because they all have their responsibilities. But be rest assured that our responsibilities is not lost on us as a union. When necessary, we will wear the national cap. At other times, we shall wear the cap of labour unions in matters relating to the welfare of our members.”
On his part, the NUPENG President said “Though everybody is saying that the unions should cooperate with the companies to survive, that survival should not be translated into redundancies all the time on the part of the Unions. Our members have been asked to stay at home. Companies are using the COVID 19 situation to close out contracts without recourse to the subsisting collective bargaining agreements. Worse still, the unions are not being consulted under the guise that they cannot be reached. This is unacceptable. On removal of subsidy and the PIB, we believe government still has so much to do. As a union, we can only cooperate on matters that we are engaged in and that which respects the sanctity of our collective agreements as a basis for collaboration”
Executive Director of AfriTAL and Convener of the Webinar series, Dr Louis Brown Ogbeifun told Economic Confidential in a telephone chat that the objectives of the webinar are to ensure that oil and gas social dialogue partners, were kept abreast of the current oil and gas challenges apart from forging a collaborative and cooperative synergy, which would ensure smooth return to post COVID 19 work, and proffer solutions to identified challenges, which would reposition the industry for strong post COVID 19 oil and gas industry recovery.