The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Monday said it had taken necessary measures to avert the proposed strike by the oil workers from the unresolved pension issues.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Group General Manager of Group Public Affairs Manager, Ohi Alegbe, in Abuja on Monday.
The Corporation’s arm of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria had threatened to go on strike.
It stated that the National Pension Commission had given a 12-month widow for the corporation to comply with the Pension Reform Act 2014 as amended.
It explained that PENCOM had earlier directed the corporation to “immediately take all necessary steps to transit to the Contributory Pension Scheme under the PRA”.
It stated that PENCOM in a fresh directive dated September 15 granted the NNPC a transition period of 12 months within which to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the PRA 2014.
It, therefore, appealed to the leadership of the industrial unions to exercise restraint while it embarks on extensive engagement with PENCOM to resolve the issues.
It stated that since the commencement of the scheme in 2006, the management and its staff had made a lot of sacrifice to maintain the existing scheme.
It stated that any premature cancellation of the scheme might lead to avoidable labour disaffection across board.
The statement acknowledged the existence of some funding gaps in the scheme.
It informed stakeholders that measures had since been put in place to steadily bridge the funding deficit, which stood at N298 billion in 2010 and had now been provisionally reduced to N85 billion as at June, 2014.
According to the statement, the NNPC is in the process of transferring additional real estate property valued at several billions of naira to the scheme, which is currently before the NNPC board for approval.
Alegbe said in the statement: “NNPC Pension Fund Limited has complied with the provisions of the PRA 2014 by transferring assets in equities, bonds, Certificates of Deposits and other marketable securities to the custody of Pension Funds Administrators for management as directed by PENCOM since 2006.
“The NNPC Pension Fund has demonstrated its capacity to manage the scheme successfully by managing pension assets of over N250 billion for over eight years.”
It stated that it had also maintained an excellent record of administering and paying over 9,000 retirees as and when due.
The management called on members of the public not to engage in panic buying, assuring further that plans were on top gear to address the situation.
Queues of motorists jostling to buy petrol resurfaced at most filling stations in Abuja on Monday following an unconfirmed report that oil workers have embarked on a nationwide strike.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the queues were noticed in the afternoon around the city centre shortly after the workers were said to have announced the commencement of the strike.
NAN gathered that the workers were called out on the strike after ongoing discussion between their leaders and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation management over unresolved pension issues was deadlocked.
It was learnt that the workers’ unions – the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers – declared the strike at about 1pm immediately after the negotiation failed.
Leaders of both unions were said to have ordered out all staff of NNPC out of their offices at the corporation’s headquarters in Abuja and threatened to shut the premises.
NAN gathered that the situation was, however, checked by security personnel hurriedly drafted to the NNPC Towers.
The news of the development made motorists to jostle for petrol, obviously to stem the hardship that might result if they strike really commenced.
At about 2pm, many filling stations in Wuse, Utako and Central Business areas had already recorded long queues of vehicles.
Efforts to reach officials of the two unions proved abortive as the security operatives at the entrance to the NNPC headquarters barred newsmen from entering the premises.
They could also not be reached on telephone, especially the President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, whose telephone appeared to have been switched off.
The Group General Manager of Group Public Affairs Department of NNPC, Ohi Alegbe, told NAN on telephone that he was in a meeting over the matter and that a statement would be issued at the end of the meeting.
NAN gathered that negotiation between the workers’ leaders and NNPC management resumed at about 3.30pm after the initial face-off.