…As Akporeha takes over from Achese as NUPENG president
Bimbola Oyesola, 08033246177
The Rivers State Government, at the weekend, agreed to partner with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in the construction of an N8 billion tanker park in Eleme, Rivers State.
This is even as the oil and gas workers, on Friday, at their fourth quadrennial delegates’ conference, elected new executives, led by Williams Akporeha, to take over from the Igwe Achese-led administration, which has steered the affairs of the union for the past eight years.
The Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike, at the groundbreaking event of the NUPENG tanker park, which entails about 45 hectares of land, has given the assurance that the state will support the union to complete the project, which will include modern-day facilities like banks, restaurants, fire house, police station, hotel, etc.
Achese had enjoined Wike to partner with the union in building the tanker park, to help generate revenue, take the tankers off the roads and promote employment in the state.
Counting the project among many others achieved under his administration, Achese said the union has fenced the land and access road with a security post installed.
“The certificate of occupancy for the vast expanse of land has been given to the union by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration,” he said.
Speaking on the state of the nation, the immediate past president lamented on the recent problem in the industrial sector, which was captured on the theme of the delegates’ conference, “Impact of Technology (Industry 4.0) on Industrial Relations in the Workplace.”
He said, “The theme is quite apt, topical, and timely. Robots and automated machines are taking over our jobs, especially in multi-national companies operating in Nigeria.
“This has led to massive job losses thus complicating the unemployment situation in the country, in a nation where half of the population of our youth is unemployed. This calls for food for thought and has to be addressed holistically by all the stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.”
Achese added that Nigerians are presently at a crossroads, struggling to survive, as the economy continues to bite harder, despite the claims by the government that the country is out of recession.
He restated that the level of poverty and unemployment is now very high in the country, like a time-bomb, with over 7.5 million Nigerians unemployed as reported by National Bureau of Statistics in 2017. He warned that the statistics portend danger as more Nigerians are now idle.
Achese maintained that the solution to the persistent problem of fuel scarcity lies in the complete revamp of the four national refineries as well as government giving special consideration to modular refinerie.
The labour leader also condemned outsourcing and casualisation, which he said is exploitation by the multinationals who use service contractors to perpetrate the evil.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, who was the chairman on the occasion, described casualisation of workers as a crime, for which he said there was a bill before the National Assembly.
Represented by Hon. Chinda Kingsley, Dogara assured NUPENG members that the bill would be given speedy passage when the House resumes.
Issa Aremu, the regional president of the IndustriALL Global, in his goodwill message, opined that for Nigeria to become an industrialised country, the nation must add value to its resources.
While commending NUPENG on the conference theme based on analysing how robots are taking over jobs, he stated that workers must replace industrial 4.0 with union 8.0.
“Government should give value to oil and gas sector. There are more products besides the petroleum that can turn the fortunes of this country around,” he said.