Despite the controversy that trailed the recently passed Petroleum Industry Bill, some workers in the oil and gas industry have lauded the National Assembly for passing the much-awaited Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB).
PENGASSAN’s President, Mr. Festus Osifo and General Secretary, Mr. Lumumba Okugbawa, NUPENG’S National President, Mr. Williams Akporeha, and General Secretary, Mr. Olawale Afolabi, made the commendation in a joint statement on Wednesday.
They said, however, some areas of the bill needed urgent attention for a wholesome realization of its full potentials.
They called on operators in the industry to dedicate 10 percent of the annual training budget to provide training for personnel in Petroleum Training Institutes and Federal University of Petroleum Resources.
“Such promulgation will reduce the funding gap in both institutions and also reduce the pressure on federal appropriation as the institutions depended largely on national budget to survive.
“These citadels of learning, which are two key institutions that provide manpower to the oil and gas industry, have however been poorly funded over the years.
“Hence we posited that operators in the Nigeria oil and gas industry should be mandated to dedicate 10 percent of their annual training budget to provide training for their personnel in these institutions,” they said.
The union leaders also called for the inclusion of PENGASSAN and NUPENG on the board of the industry regulators.
According to them, such is crucial for the attainment of one of the key objectives of the bill, which is to ensure accountability and transparency in the industry.
“All civil societies and labour strongly clamoured for the inclusion of the two unions in the sector to be on the board of the regulators for reasons of global best practice currently being practiced in most climes.
“The needs and justifications for this are many and enormous as it will also ensure that the regulators are further strengthened in ensuring that issues bordering on the welfare of workers would have been championed from the cradle of the bill,” they said.
They also noted other important areas of the bill that would require urgent attention including casualization of workers; restriction on import license; incentivizing investments in local refining, and investment in alternative energy.
“The leadership of NUPENGASSAN wishes to draw the attention of stakeholders to the need for the unions to be fully represented in the Transition Committee.
“This is to ensure that the issues bordering on workers are effectively taken on board from the onset.
“This is the only way we could avoid an industrial crisis that could arise if all the Is are not dotted and Ts crossed.
“Both Unions will resist with all its arsenals should it be overlooked during the Transition Committee,” they said.
The National Daily reports that the two chambers of the National Assembly had on July 1, passed the PIB.
The Bill, which has been in the works since the early 2000s, will become law once the President has assented to it.
It however remains to be seen if the Bill will be allowed to scale through, and whether the conference committee of the National Assembly will listen to the growing outcry over critical provisions of the Bill.