Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Indigenous pipeline surveillance contractors attached to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) at the weekend appealed to the management of the corporation to pay their salary allowance of 17 months.
The contractors are specifically in charge of protecting Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC) system 2C pipelines carrying crude from refinery in Warri, Delta State, through Edo, Kogi states to Kaduna refinery. It is a subsidiary of NNPC.
At a peaceful protest at the premises of NPSC, Warri, the security guards, who are employees of MRS Oil and Gas Limited carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “17 Months No Salary Empty Belle,” “We Are Pipelines Community Security from Warri-Lokoja, Please We Need Our 17 Months Salaries,” “NNPC/MRS We Need Our Money!!!,” “NNPC/MRS, We Are Dying,” among others.
Speaking on behalf of the workers from Kogi State, Ozizi Ibrahim said before they embarked on the protest, several letters had been written to the management of NNPC and MRS, alleging that nothing positive came out of their efforts.
“We even held a protest rally last month but still nothing happened. That is why we are here today. We are here today to ask them why they have not paid our salaries,” Ibrahim.
He disclosed that a meeting with NPSC, they were told that the money had been paid to MRS, adding that “they also told us that in two weeks time, they are going to pay us our money. But if in the next two weeks, we do not see our money, we are going to come back again to demand our entitlements peacefully.”
On his part, Afekelu Obeto, who represented the workers from Edo State, said that they have been working for MRS and NPSC for the past 17 months without being paid.
He added: “Our boys are thinking that we have eaten their money and they are disturbing us. The month of fasting is fast approaching and they have to get prepared for the fasting period. How are they going to survive the fasting if they do not have money?”
Benson Abonoko, representing security guards from Delta State, alleged that “MRS has refused to pay our money for the past 17 months. This is just a peaceful protest. The management of NNPC has promised to pay us in the next two weeks and we are waiting. If they fail to pay us at the end of two weeks, we are going to continue to protest and let the whole world know what we are passing through.”
He called on the Federal Government to intervene in order to resolve the dispute and forestall the breakdown of law and order.
Although efforts to obtain the position of MRS Oil and Gas on the matter proved abortive, a source close to the company’s management said part payment has been received from NNPC, adding that measures were being put in place to pay the aggrieved contractors.