NUPENG?s Questionable Action
Fri, 24/08/2012 ? 12:48am | LEADERSHIP EDITORIAL Editorial

Commercial activities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have in the last few days been crippled as a result of the industrial action by oil workers under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

They had claimed that their action was informed by the federal government?s refusal to pay the outstanding subsidy entitlements of their employers, even though the minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had explained that the federal government had paid over N42 billion outstanding subsidy claims and that those being investigated for subsidy fraud were the only companies with outstanding claims.

This action of members of NUPENG is having a huge negative effect on the livelihood of many Nigerians, especially the long suffering people of Abuja and its environs. Expectedly, transporters have capitalised on the situation to hike transport fares along all routes. Food prices have increased by over 300 per cent and a litre of fuel is being sold for N300 on the black market.

From all indications, the strike is being instigated by indicted marketers and the federal government is being blackmailed. The indicted oil marketers may have succeeded in mobilising their staff members, the NUPENG, to support their muddy cause, all in an attempt to force the federal government to agree to their seemingly criminal demands.

Indeed, NUPENG?s action has suggested its members are being used to sabotage the efforts of the federal government and civil society groups in ensuring transparency and accountability in the oil sector.

In spite of? efforts by NUPENG to rationalise its action, we believe that millions of Nigerians should not be made to suffer unjustly over a mere business transaction between the federal government and oil marketers. Especially when some of them, those that benefited from oil subsidy fraud, are still being investigated by the relevant anti-corruption agencies.

From media reports and rightly so, many Nigerians are convinced that the action of oil workers in Abuja and the threat by their union ? NUPENG to embark on a nationwide strike over the disagreement on fuel subsidy entitlements is uncalled for and clear insensitivity to the protest by many Nigerians over the rot in the petroleum industry.

We have always seen NUPENG as a responsible labour union that has contributed to every process in deepening our democratic norms and values in the past, and it is in the interest of its members to continue to follow that path. They must remain in the crusade for sanity and transparency in the subsidy regime and ensure that transparency and accountability are entrenched in the system.

We therefore call? on NUPENG to call off its strike in Abuja and reconsider its threat to embark on a nationwide strike. The country needs the support of every stakeholder, including the NUPENG, to sanitise our stinking oil sector.

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