The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the protection of its members working in the Niger Delta Region.
National President of the Association, Comrade Olabode Johnson, while reacting to threat by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), warning National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), PENGASSAN and the expatriates to leave all oil fields and terminals in the region, said such threat should not be taken for granted. But the federal government has expressed resolve to dialogue with the militants, saying without securing the environment, investments won’t come.
The Avengers have in recent time, blown oil pipelines in the region, with a renewed threat to attack the workers if they failed to leave, threatening that “things will get dirty very soon.”
Comrade Johnson, who was speaking at the 3rd Women in PENGASSAN National Conference/ Workshop, also said the association is presently engaging the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, over the issues, urging government to ensure peace in the region.
“We are having a meeting with the Minister of Labour and Employment. In view of the issue on ground, this is something we should take as priority. That kind of threat is not something that should be taken lightly.
“So, I think we are going to put our feet down. Whatever the issue, let government look for a way to fast track everything and discuss so that there can be peace in this country. This is not time for us to start destroying ourselves and our properties and oil installations. We all need to work together, as a country so that Nigeria can rise from the ashes of what we are going through.”
On the recent decision of the association to suspend its strike, Labour lamented the situation where decisions of government were not taken serious by its agencies and oil companies.
“We had series of meetings with the government team. But we also want to inform government that a situation where agencies and oil companies behave as if they are more powerful than the government is not acceptable to the union.
“You cannot have an agreement with the minister standing in for the president of the Federal Republic, and when it’s time to take action, you say no. We only suspended our strike, if these issues are not addressed properly, we may have to resume the strike.
“Though, we don’t like taking that route; that is why we are imploring every agency of government that whatever agreement reached must be respected. We will abide by our side of the agreement but if they are not ready to honour theirs, we will have no choice than to resume,” the association clarified.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu said yesterday that the federal government was discussing with Niger Delta militants through oil companies and law-enforcement agencies to find a lasting solution to the persistent insecurity in the region.
Speaking at a farewell audience with the outgoing Ambassador of Germany to Nigeria, Mr. Michael Zinner, at the State House in Abuja, the President said government is studying the instruments of the amnesty programme inherited from the previous administration with a view to carrying out commitments made that were undelivered.
“We understand their feelings. We are studying the instruments. We have to secure the environment, otherwise investment will not come. We will do our best for the country,” he said.
The President commended the government of Germany for its continuing support to Nigeria in its efforts to tackle insecurity, and the ongoing rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced citizens in crisis areas in the North-Eastern part of the country.
The President also thanked the country’s neighbours for their unflinching support in the war against terror.
In his remarks, the outgoing German Ambassador said the bilateral relations between Nigeria and Germany “had improved very much in the last 12 months of this administration.”
He said Germany was ready to assist Nigeria in the rehabilitation process in the North-East in order to help displaced persons return their villages.
The envoy also expressed the eagerness of German businesses to invest in the country, now that “conditions for investment have been put in place.”
The German Ambassador reiterated the standing invitation of Chancellor Angela Merkel to the President to visit Germany.