Nigeria may witness yet another fuel scarcity as members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) on Wednesday threatened to pull out its entire workforce from oil and gas installations nationwide in protest of the increasing oil theft and vandalism.
Festus Osifo, the President of PENGASSAN, made the intentions of the association known at a press conference held in Abuja, lamenting that crude oil theft had crumbled the nation’s economy.
He, however, declared that oil workers are ready to withdraw their services if the government pays lip service to their demands of fighting the menace with sincerity and sense of purpose.
According to him, in other climes governments deploy high technology to fight such heinous crimes of sabotage, but upon all the hues and cries and the damage oil theft and pipeline vandalism are doing to the nation’s economy, the Federal Government appears to be helpless.
Osifo, who described the growing incidents of oil theft menace as a real time challenge, urged government to develop the muscle and the political will to chase out oil thieves vandalising the nation’s pipelines.
According to him, some cartels are responsible for the menace and are feeding fat on the nation’s wealth, as well as sabotaging the economy.
The PENGASSAN boss noted that crude oil theft had crumbled the economy and the union could no longer hold its breath, stressing that ‘beginning today across four states in Abuja, Lagos, Warri and Port Harcourt, all members of PENGASSAN will embark on rally across strategic locations to sensitise the nation on the dangers and economic losses inherent in crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
He lamented that due to oil theft, Nigeria could no longer meet up with OPEC quota of 1.8 million barrels of crude oil, even as the country is struggling to produce a million barrels, because the products are stolen, while companies are shutting down production.
Osifo said the union had engaged and dialogued with critical stakeholders, agencies of government and service chiefs on how to curb oil theft, stating that despite all meetings, none had yielded the desired result, due to the cartels that are largely feasting on it and crumbling the economy.
To this end, he said the union could not take it anymore, rather than embark on a national rally to sensitise Nigerians on what is going on in the sector and the reason the economy is not growing abysmally.
He said if at the end, no justification for the exercise, the union will pull out the entire workforce in all oil and gas installations across the country, for a total showdown.
According to him, this is the first time crude oil price is hitting the roof of $100 per barrel in the international market.
“This is a menace that is leapfrogging the country. This is the reason Nigeria keeps borrowing to finance the national budget. Enough is enough. We have to add our voice to the current struggle. It is not going to be a one-off thing. Companies are shutting down, our members are losing their jobs in services and producing companies.
“The business is that bad now because companies are struggling to sustain the workforce. This is a real crisis that government of the day must develop the muscle and political will to chase out the oil thieves. What is happening is beyond blame game. This is the time to practicalise what we have been saying. The earlier government acts fact, the better for the economy,” he said.