James Ojo ,Bimbo Oyesola, Abuja
Over $104 billion was lost by the Federal Government for its refusal to implement the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act.
This was disclosed by the Lagos-based legal luminary, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Thursday in Abuja.
According to Falana, who stated this at the 40th anniversary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Abuja , there was no reason for the country to fund developmental projects with loans if oil and gas sector is well monitored.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Dynamic Labour Leadership, Fueling the Economy,’ he challenged the labour unions, particularly PENGASSAN, to halt financial hemorrhage in the industry
Going down memory, Falana recalled that both the Federal Government and its anti graft agencies had turned blind eyes to efforts made by him to locate and repatriate millions of Dollars that could have been deployed to improve the lives of Nigerians.
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He told the audience about the refusal and neglect of the successive governments to implement the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Act which could have fetched the country over $104 billions in royalty.
“We are yet to get values for our investment in the oil and gas sector. This is why I am challenging PENGASSAN and NLC as well as other unions to galvanize their members to fight and help the NNPC recover millions of Dollars siphoned from the industry.
“I drew the attention of the government to the Offshore Act in 2015, which was even due for review, but no adjustment in the cost of royalty was ever made according to Section 5 of the Act.
“But I am happy to tell you that the legal action taken by the governments of Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers states was finally resolved by the Supreme Court yesterday, which will address the non payment and the shortcomings in the payment of royalty by the prospecting oil companies in accordance with the law,” he said.
Falana also told the oil workers his efforts to trace barrels of crude oil being stolen from the country, as discovered by the reports of a study commissioned by NIMASA, which exposed the millions of barrels recorded in one port at Philadelphia in the US.
The study, he explained, revealed that “between January 2011 and 2014, the barrels of crude oil from Nigeria to the Philadelphia port was 60.2 million, which is $2.7 billion.
“We have identified the companies involved and the shipping firms, nothing has been done to the letters sent the Federal Government, the EFCC and even the Senate President. This is why I am challenging the PENGASSAN, the NUPENG and happily the President of NLC is here to assist NNPC recover this monies running into billions of Dollars,” he tasked the unions.
According to him, Nigeria should not be counted among the poor countries of the world if only the oil and gas sector is properly monitored, adding that it was sad that the country has over 13 million children out of school, a figure that he said was more that the population of Cuba and a potential recruitment Centre for Terrorist groups.
Falana told the workers not to leave the fight against corruption only to the government and urged them not to accept excuses that the minimum wage was not possible.
President Mohammadu Buhari in a message gent through the the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu commended the leadership of PENGASSAN for the understand shown when the price of fuel was increased and for the current easy distribution of fuel across the country.
“PENGASSAN has played a stabilization roles in the oil and gas industry, we acknowledged the solidarity in resolving the joint cash call issue, and also lead in the advocacy for the local content,” the president noted.
President Buhari assured the union of the support of the Federal Government in the building of its proposed Laboratory and Events centers.
President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Olabide Johnson in his welcome address went down memory lane on the achievements recorded by the union, among which are the passage of the local content bill, restoring of normalcy to thee downstream sector, the new Joint Venture cash call, framework, and he engagement of other stakeholders in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
He said that the union is currently engaging companies to end contract employment and casual Labour and other anti union practices.
As part of the events marking the anniversary, three Nigerians were given award of recognition, they are Alhaji Abudulahi Abubarkar who saved about 300 Christians from been killed in Plateau state, the widow of late Joseph Blankson who died to save 13 people at a creek in Rivers state and the proprietor of Jones Secondary School in Nasarawa state who offered scholarships to indigent indigenes of the host community.