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NLC urges National Assembly to transform NNPC to public liability company

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The Nigeria Labour Congress has cautioned the National Assembly to handle with utmost care what it described as the very sensitive issue of the unbundling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

It urged the lawmakers to transform the NNPC to a public liability company as part of the reforms of the oil and gas sector captured in the Petroleum Industry Bill.

The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said this on Tuesday, in a statement lauding the passage of the PIB titled, ‘Congress commends the national assembly for passing the petroleum industry bill – demands that the NNPC be transformed into a public liability company.’

It stated, “We know that the process of making the PIB a law has not been completely consummated as the passed bill would still need to be harmonized by a conference of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

‘’The Nigeria Labour Congress while taking in this moment of legislative jinx breaking, wishes to draw the attention of the National Assembly of the need to handle with utmost care the very sensitive issue of the unbundling of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.”

Wabba noted that Clause 53 of the bill mandates the Minister of Petroleum Resources at the incorporation of NNPC Ltd., to consult with the Minister of Finance to determine the number and nominal value of the shares to be allotted, which would form the initial paid-up share capital of NNPC Ltd.

According to him, the NLC as part of its input to the PIB during its appearance at the public hearing canvassed that the NNPC should be transformed into a public liability company where every Nigerian could own shares.

“Congress is, however, concerned that unlike the Senate representation of Clause 53, Clause 53 of the PIB as passed by the House of Representatives does not seem to sufficiently capture this desire of the Nigerian people. This is a major blight in the PIB. It is not good enough.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress urges the National Assembly during its Conference to harmonize the two versions of the passed bill pursuant to the Senate’s representation of Clause 53 by effectively sanctioning the transformation of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation into a public liability company.

“This would project the democratic appeal of the Petroleum Industry Bill as a legal instrument that caters for the masses of Nigeria. Poor and ordinary Nigerians who have endured the shorter end of the stick under the old petroleum law deserve better,” the NLC argued.

On the agitations by host communities on the percentage of revenue proposed in the PIB, Wabba admonished the Conference Committee of the National Assembly to harmonise the 3 per cent proposed by the Senate and 5 per cent by the House of Representatives, especially in a manner that gives a sense of justice, fairness and inclusion to oil-producing communities in the country.

The congress complained about the non-inclusion of workers in the governing structures of the proposed commercial and regulatory institutions and organisations that would emerge from the unbundling of the NNPC.

It noted, “The Nigeria Labour Congress also hopes that the proposal for the setting up of the Downstream Regulatory Agency is not a euphemism for abdication of government responsibility to fix our public refineries, halt incessant hike in the price of refined petroleum products and reverse the surrendering of our oil wealth to rapacious market forces. Nigerian workers will always resist such enslavement of our people.”

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