Oil marketers have issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to all outstanding payments arising from unpaid subsidy claims, including forex differentials and interest, which it said amount to about N800 billion.
The marketers, under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), said if the government fails to meet the deadline, they would be forced to disengage their workers and shut down their depots.
Speaking yesterday on behalf of the marketers, the Legal Adviser to the Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs), Mr Patrick Etim, said the seven-day ultimatum became necessary as all investments and assets of oil marketers are being taken over by banks, while payment of workers’ salaries has been difficult to make.
According to Etim, marketers have asked some of their workers to stay at home from December 1, 2018, as salaries of workers could not be paid due to huge debts owed by the government on subsidy.
Etim said, “The only way to salvage the situation is when the government pays the outstanding debts through cash option. Other forms of payment instrument like a promissory note would not save the intended mass retrenchment.
“As at the tail end of 2018, several months after the assurances were received from the government that it would pay off the outstanding debts, it has not paid.
“The oil marketers have requested that forex differentials and interest components of the government’s indebtedness to marketers calculated up to December 2018 be paid within the next seven days from the date of the letter sent to them.”
Etim said several thousand jobs are on the line in the oil and gas industry, as oil marketers have begun to cut-down their workforce due to their inability to pay salaries.
“At the inception of the current administration, marketers engaged the government with a view to secure approval for all outstanding subsidy-induced debts handed over to the current administration,’’ he said.
He said the Muhammadu Buhari administration paid part of the debts with a substantial portion of the subsidy interest and foreign exchange differentials still pending, in spite of the directive of the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to the former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, to intervene.
NLC backs ASUU
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has thrown its weight behind the ongoing Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike. It said the Federal Government and many state governments had resorted to bullying and draconian threats in dealing with industrial relations.
In a statement by its Acting President, Comrade Lawal Dutsinma, NLC said the ASUU struggle for improved conditions of learning in public universities was not the first over which the government is issuing the “No Work … No Pay” threat.
“During the last warning strike by the NLC on the new national minimum wage, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige issued a “No Work… No Pay” threat against workers.
“Also, during the last nationwide strike action by health workers, the Federal Government did not only issue a “No Work… No Pay” threat, it went ahead to implement it. Till now, the government still withholds about three months of salaries due to health workers.
“The Nigeria Labour Congress considers the application of the “No Work… No Pay” rule as an autocratic attempt to cow workers into abandoning their legitimate demand for decent wages, conducive workspaces and social justice.
“As far as we are concerned, the government’s invocation of the ‘no work, no pay” clause in the Trade Disputes Act is selective, erroneous and hypocritical,” the union said.
He said the Federal Government and nearly all the states in Nigeria are owing workers varying arrears of salaries, allowances, pension and gratuity – some running into years.
According to him, workers have continued to endure such profound neglect by political leaders elected to prioritise the welfare of citizens. “Given the grand betrayal of workers by the government, workers stand the higher moral ground to invoke a “No Pay… No Work” action.
“Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act of Nigeria has always been in our statutes but successive governments had hardly ever invoked it to punish an already impoverished workforce.
“It is sad that the current government is making a lot of fuss on just one aspect of our laws while holding in contempt several provisions in our labour laws and even our constitution demanding just and humane treatment of workers,” he said
He said it is important to reiterate that Nigerian workers will never accept slavery in their own country, adding that the right to strike is both a human and trade union right protected by our laws and international conventions particularly ILO Convention 87.
“|It is the right to strike that distinguishes a worker from a slave. Do we need to remind government at all levels that Nigerian workers are worthy partners in nation building and not slaves? As a matter of fact, labour builds the commonwealth that political leaders and their cronies, more often than not, squander. It is, therefore, regrettable that government continues to behave as if Nigerian workers are slaves who have no rights or privileges to claim.
“We warn government at all levels to desist from using the “No Work… No Pay” rule to shirk away from their responsibilities. We also demand the immediate release of workers’ salaries withheld on the account of “No Work… No Pay” rule. Also, we ask the government to respect agreements it freely entered into with ASUU in order to restore normalcy and sanity to our public institutions of learning especially our universities. Our children have suffered enough already! Enough is enough,” he said.
Oil marketers order shut down of depots
Depot and Petroleum Products Marketing Association (DAPPMA) yesterday directed its members to shut down services as from 12 midnight. A directive from the DAPPMA Executive Secretary, Mr Olufemi Adewole, sent to members, said the association’s efforts to make the Federal Government pay its N800 billion subsidy debts were not successful.
But, the news came as oil workers sought a quick resolution of the disagreement between the Federal Government and oil marketers over the outstanding fuel subsidy claims.
The oil workers, under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said the resolution would avert another fuel crisis.
Adewole, however, said the association “took the bold step to stop the financial haemorrhage of its members by the painful disengagement of its loyal workforce after three years of engaging the Federal Government in its efforts to secure the payment of all subsidy-induced debts owed marketers”.
The DAPPMA Executive Secretary said efforts made till date have not yielded the desired results, hence the decision to shut down the depots.
He said the association duly notified the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Debt Management Office (DMO) and the Presidency of its challenges in paying workers’ salaries beyond last month.
He added that the association pleaded with the Presidency, DMO and the ministry to no avail to pay the outstanding debts like a subsidy, interest, forex differentials with summation calculated up to 31st of this month.
Adewole said as a result of the notice, the association was invited to meetings.
His words: “Further talks to which we are usually invited, which now seem to be their response to follow-ups on these debts, never consented to our requests for full cash payment of these debts, hence the regrettable decision we have had to take to let go our loyal staff, who we have sustained through bank facilities at outrageous interest rates.”
The DAPPMA Executive Secretary added: “Premised on our inability to pay December 2018 salaries and to avoid owing staff for work done without any hope of pay, it is hereby agreed that, since our staff have been disengaged, all DAPPMAN member Depots are not in a position to operate and hence will shut down all loading operations at midnight, Sunday December 9, 2018, until Federal Government pays our calculated claims: the remaining subsidy (to few members), forex differential interest incurred up to December 31, 2018.
“This decision is binding on all members of the association and full compliance is expected of every member company of the association. The association shall revert in the same vein with any other directives as might be deemed necessary.”
Oil workers’ leaders yesterday assured that their interests are aligned with Nigerians.
They spoke while addressing reporters after a meeting with officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), as well as Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and DAPPMA).
2019 Elections: PDP calls for free and fair election
The PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, has placed much emphasis on free and fair general elections in 2019 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
This, he disclosed during the flag-off ceremony of North Central zonal presidential campaign of the PDP in Ilorin on Wednesday while speaking on behalf of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The made it known that a credible free and fair election is the only way to guarantee peace in the country in 2019. He further lay more emphasis on this when he said that Nigerians would no longer accept rigged elections in any part of the country considering the former ones that have been conducted in some part of the country.
In his words, “We’re on a rescue mission with a capable man to solve problems of insecurity, poor economy, corruption, hunger and joblessness. So, I urge Nigerians to vote wisely to have solutions to the myriads of present challenges in the country.
“Let’s vote them out of office come 2019. You don’t have to fear the police or the army because they can’t rig us all out. If they want peace in Nigeria, the election must be free and credible. If they like, they can go ahead and manipulate the elections, but Nigerians will no longer accept rigged elections.
“Don’t be afraid of the army or the police they use to intimidate during elections. You’re the army and police. So, I want you to monitor the elections and protect your votes. Don’t be intimidated. What happened in Osun state cannot work again. Be rest assured that Atiku will win in 2019,” he said while addressing the public.
The national chairman also vehemently scold the federal government for its show of incompetence to effect any arrest in the Benue and Plateau states’ killings even after the general public frowned against the occurrence, he that the present government had administered the country based on lies and propaganda, “forgetting that they can’t fool all the people all the time.”
Also at the occasion was Atiku who urged people to avoid the selling of their PVC for money.
The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, who also graced the occasion further urged Nigerians to massively vote-in Atiku as Nigeria’s president in 2019, saying that the country needs a president that can unite all parts of the country and not a sectional leader.
He said that Atiku understands the workings of Nigeria, adding that he would perform well to make Nigeria better.
2019 Election: Minimum wage will determine workers voting pattern – NLC
The general secretary of the Nigerian labor congress, Dr peter Ozo-Eson has declared that the deliberate delay of the increase in minimum wage by the present administration will have ripple effects on the 2019 general elections.
The Nigeria Labor Congress has engaged in a lot of lobbying and meetings proposing to the ministry of labor the possibility of raising the minimum wage to 30,000 to further increase the standard of living of the public servant, but the executive arm has still not passed the bill to the national assembly for implementation.
The Ama Pepple-led Tripartite Committee submitted its recommendation to the president some weeks ago and it has ignored the urgency and importance of the issue considering its slow to action.
“Mr President had promised at the occasion that he will act quickly on it. We are disturbed that up till now he has not sent the bill to the National Assembly.” – Mr Ozo-Eson said.
“Therefore, our advice to workers is that those in government who have shown no inte
rest in the welfare of workers, or have unleashed terror on workers, should be voted out. “We urge our members to use their voting powers to vote such people out,” he said.
The NLC official also noted that this recommendation was supposed to have been implemented two years ago .
Mr Ozo-Eson expressed dissatisfaction about the “i don’t care” attitude practiced and shown by the government in power and he implored all workers who have been victims of the present situation to be careful of how they vote in the coming elections so as not to fall in the same.
He said that though, the political parties have started their campaign, the National Assembly has assured workers that legislators would attend to bills of national importance. He also said that the National Assembly members had specifically promised that they would give accelerated hearing if the bill on the minimum wage reached them. (NAN).
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