Kachikwu,Baru rift triggered by ego – Johnson

Row between Kachikwu and Baru You know we are in political era now, and politics is a game. I know that in 1999, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was having that same office. But I think the difference in this one is that there was an announcement, that the president will be the minister of petroleum but to the best of my knowledge there was no announcement in Obasanjo’s time.
So, when you also look at it, Nigerians with the support of people in politics elected the president and it was based on trust, so trust must be protected. However, if he is going to appoint people into that sensitive position like that, he must look for someone he can trust seriously. Let me also say that most of these people that went to court challenging the matter were all around at that time in Nigeria and nobody said anything.
I also know that when you are having two positions like that, it is not something you collect sitting allowance and all of that. But for trust purposes, the president decided to hold it himself. So giving it up is left for him to decide.
However, if there are also issues threatening the unity of the country, then the constitution should be amended to say that henceforth the incumbent president is going to appoint someone for that position. The issue is also generating controversy because there is nothing like ministry of state. Also, for those holding the office, it is a known fact and that is why the issue is getting politicised.
On alleged $25billion contract Th e impression given was that there was a fraud and about $25 billion was stolen. Looking at such statement and the same period was when the country is talking about borrowing about $5.5 billion dollars. And so, one will ask, how can a government that awarded a contract of $25 billion now wants a loan of $5.5 billion? I also look at it that the issue was not properly handled. Th ere should have been coordinated responses to the issue. Both the Minister of State and the GMD could not control their press interview on the matter.
Need for peaceful industrial atmosphere in the sector Until we can stabilise our economy, get through the issue of diversifi cation, oil remains the mainstream of the Nigeria economy. But looking at where we are coming from, that is pre- 2015; we all know the enormous power exhibited by the last occupant in that office.
I also believe that the current president having served as the commissioner for petroleum resources as well as former head of state, he did so much in that place. Records are there for anyone to confirm that It was during his tenure with Obasanjo, as the commissioner for petroleum resources that most of these refineries where built as well as the deports. If you also look at it from that point of view, he might want to hold the office to ensure everything works properly.
I think for me what is causing this crisis is ego and in this country we must consider the larger interest of Nigerians and put ego aside. For instance, during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr Aremu Babanla, the then Minister of State for finance made a statement about NNPC and because oil remains the mainstream of our economy, people reacted to that statement all over the world. It took the Minister of Petroleum then, Diezani Alison Madukwe to go abroad in shuttle for diplomacy to douse the tension and this took a while for things to get stabilised.
The oil and gas industry is a very sensitive sector and if there is going to be crisis, we have to ensure that such is nipped in the bud. For the unions in the oil and gas sector, let me use this medium and correct an impression that the unions are looking for opportunities to go on strike.
There are procedures, no union leader that will wake up and declare a strike, they will issue notices before any action. What we are saying is that in every policy of government, unions must be carried along, because we need to defend our members’ jobs in labour issues. Don’t think labour wants to run the government with you.
So, for peace to reign, all stakeholders must work together. We also know of the clamour for restructuring and no labour leader will want to be used for political consideration. So, if we are carried along, defi nitely there must be peace. We just fi nished our NEC meeting in Uyo, and one of the issues for PENGASSAN was that a month ago, strike was incessant that we were wondering where we were going to.
So, we said if there are issues that can result to strike, let’s put it on the table. We also want to use this medium to inform all agencies of government to stop running helter-skelter in the last minute to arrest the situation when an ultimatum is given. Most times, why ultimatum is given is to draw government’s attention to the issues so as to address them.
Options to strike Like I have said earlier, there are rules of engagement and procedures. If the communiqué comes out now, we are going to write to all key stakeholders so that they can be aware of the issues. Th e ideal thing to do is for government to assemble all the stakeholders, including the IOCs to a round table with a view to addressing the issues in the best interest of Nigerians, and not to allow the issues to get out of hand.
Closure of refineries We were told by the government that the essence for the announcement and closure was to ensure a strong assessment of the refineries, because the president in his campaign promises said he will ensure that even if the refineries would be privatised, it must be in good state and also the essence is to do a complete overhaul and do a total rehabilitation. I also know that government promised to give the rehabilitation work to the original company that built the refineries. Also, for them to announce the closure, it means there is enough product for domestic use. For workers, it is also in our interest.
Th is is because no worker is happy to be going to work when the refineries are not working and to be collecting salaries. We believe that when the refineries begin to work well, they will have rest of mind and also, in view of the Dangote refineries that would commence operation in 2019, all hands must be on deck so that it will be for the betterment of the country. Because if both refineries are working in high capacity, the issue of importing refined product will stop. Also this is the time to think of modular refineries because these ones are ageing.
No work no pay implementation Well, the law has always been there. It’s the effort to avoid such thing that unions will give ultimatum and that is the procedure. They can’t wake up one day and call out members for strike. So if someone issues 21 days, that means there is a serious industrial dispute and what that requires is for the matter to be nipped in the bud. You don’t wait till the expiration of the ultimatum. We are not supporting the no work no pay, government should stop intimidating workers.
Labour leaders’ inaction to welfare of Nigerians As a labour leader, let me also appeal to my colleagues that as leaders elected to protect the job of our members and ensure their welfare at all time, we must be united. Most of the issues you are talking about occur as a result of lack of unity amongst labour leaders. When government sees that there is disunity amongst the union leaders, they will cash on that. Also when leaders put their interest above those he or she is representing, then that is failure. I also want to use this medium to call on NLC and TUC to look at areas of strong collaboration amongst the affiliates so as to come out with policies. For example, the nonpayment of salaries, have we bothered to find out if the appointees of these governors are also owed, despite their huge amount? So if NLC and TUC can announce a date jointly to storm a zone for sensitisation on the matter to see how they can force the governors to pay, PENGASSAN as an affiliate of TUC is ready.

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