Fuel scarcity looms as angry workers shut down NNPC nationwide over ‘unbundling’

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Oil workers have shut down the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) nationwide following Tuesday’s unbundling of the corporation.

Members of staff and management of the corporation arrived their various offices on Wednesday morning to discover that they could not gain entrance following the total strike.

The immediate impact of the strike will be nationwide fuel scarcity as products will not be lifted by NUPENG.

It is not expected to affect the crude oil export yet except the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) joins in solidarity.

Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources who doubles as the NNPC group managing director, had announced the creation of seven independent units on Tuesday, namely downstream, gas and power, refineries, ventures, corporate planning and services, and finance and accounts.

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The President had approved the following appointments with immediate effect.

Bello Rabiu for Upstream; Henry Ikem-Onih (downstream); Anibor Kragha (Refineries); Saudu Mohammed (Gas & Power), while Babatunde Adeniran (Ventures) are the five people said to be in charge of the new units while the two other units are dedicated to those for Upstream, Downstream, Gas & Power, Refineries, Ventures, Corporate Planning & Services and Finance and Accounts.

The group executive committee (GEC) of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) convened an emergency meeting at 10pm on Tuesday to discuss the development.

At the end of the meeting, GEC sent this message to all members: “The GEC of NUPENG & PENGASSAN at its meeting of 8th March 2016, which started at 10:00pm has extensively discussed the pronouncement of the GMD on NNPC UNBUNDLING. We observed that the GMD/HMSP totally disregarded due process and failed to engage STAKEHOLDERS. Hence, from midnight today, ALL NNPC LOCATIONS will be SHUT DOWN COMPLETELY until further notice. Further directives will be communicated accordingly.”

When TheCable visited the NNPC headquarters on Wednesday, hundreds of the corporation’s staff littered the road causing gridlock on Herbert Macaulay way.

Unionists in red were at the scene barricading the entrance to the NNPC building.

Also, security agents were on hand to forestall break down of order.

A staff member of the NNPC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told this newspaper that he was at the corporation’s building as of 7:30am on Wednesday but met “it barricaded by members of PENGASSAN.”

TheCable tried to speak with one of the leaders of the union, but he said: “We are not here for journalists. This is not for the press.”

Kachikwu had said the distribution of subsidiary companies of the corporation would further be restructured into direct management of the divisions.

Last week, Kachikwu announced that the government was planning to unbundle the corporation into 30 profitable companies.

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