Real Reason PENGASSAN Barricaded NUPRC Headquarters -Engr. Komolafe


The Commission Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, has made some clarifications why members of the local branch of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) barricaded the entrance of the head office of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in Abuja.

Engr. Komolafe made the clarification in a statement on Tuesday.

He noted that since the Commission commenced strategic moves to sanitise the oil and gas industry in the country, especially with the passing of some regulations to curb oil theft and losses through operational and administrative leakages, the management has come under intense pressure and harassment from some dissatisfied stakeholders using every available weapon at their disposal.

He said, the scope of the protests had all the trappings of a premeditated action which suggests that staff welfare may just have been a facade and not be the major reason behind the action; more so when some of the commentaries made by the arrowheads of the protests were extraneous to the issues contained in the Union’s letter of concern to the management.

The NUPRC boss said, the Commission has a mandate to grow and sanitise the oil and gas industry in Nigeria under the PIA, 2021 and using global best practice; and will not succumb to any form of threats and intimidation from any quarters.

He said, the Commission is also committed to staff welfare and would do all that is necessary within available resources to ensure that the welfare and security of staff under its employ are given deserving attention.

Narrating what transpired, Engr. Komolafe said, the protest started in the early hours of Tuesday, August 1, 2023, less than 24 hours after the management of the commission had, in a response to PENGASSAN’s letter delivered on July 31, clearly addressed all the issues raised therein concerning staff welfare.

He said, “in the letter, the Union had raised issues relating to pension non-remittance, non-conducive work environment, insufficient working tools, staff medicals, outstanding payments of 2023 upfront allowances, unpaid staff claims, unpaid staff on-call-allowance, and non-payment of outsource personnel.

“Responding same day (July 31) to the letter which was signed by the local PENGASSAN chairman and secretary, Mr. O. E. Anya and Dr M. Malah respectively, the Commission explained that obligations relating to claims made by the union have been fulfilled and efforts are already in place to achieve closure on the pending items. It explained the stages at which all the stated issues have been addressed to date.

“First of all, it explained that contrary to the claims that pension deductions from staff emoluments have not been remitted to the various PFAs in line with the Pension Reform Act 2014, the Commission had fully settled all pension deductions. Evidence was attached to the response for the Union’s attention and verification.

“On the non-conducive work environment, management explained that an additional working space had been secured in Abuja, while relevant steps have been taken to fit the necessary facilities in the Port Harcourt and Lagos offices, given the fact that the properties were inherited from subsidiaries of the defunct Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in those locations when the Commission was created about two years ago through the Petroleum Industry Act, 2023.

“The Union, the Commission noted, was fully aware that as a matter of policy computers and other working tools are procured only from accredited agents of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and must follow due process under the Procurement Act 2007.

“As a result, all staff laptops are ordered under the Service Level Agreement with OEMs. In 2023 management successfully procured two (2) batches of laptops for staff; and these have been and are still being allocated based on the priority list.

“On medicals, management drew attention to all the processes taken in compliance with the official gazette of the National Health Insurance Authority Act (NHIA) 2022 as well as the financial implications.

“It explained that the existing arrangement in the Commission affords all staff and their wards access to accredited hospitals and bills are settled subsequently.

“It further pointed that full and comprehensive medical care inclusive of approved overseas treatment, where required, are provided for all staff. All medical expenses are scheduled for payment and are undergoing processing.

“In its response to the issue of outstanding upfront allowances, management also explained that following the mop-up of unspent balances of funds in December 2022 by the CBN, as required by law, the Commission started the 2023 fiscal year with a funding deficit against a zero allocation.

“With an analysis of inflow and outflow of funds from January to June 2023 management explained that since the funds available could not cover all outstanding liabilities, a decision was taken to pay staff entitlement in batches net of deductions.

“By June 2023, the Commission had paid more than N1.5 billion of the upfront cooperative deductions and the outstanding is undergoing processing for settlement in August 2023. Staff claims are undergoing processing in line with the cash flows of the Commission and all staff claims have been scheduled for immediate payment on the relevant payment platform.

“On the on-call-allowances, management referred the Union to the list of those qualified for the allowance, in line with the subsisting staff policy. It expressed surprise that the Union claims that staff have not been paid on-call allowances and insisted that all on-call allowances as of July 2023 have been fully paid, in line with staff policy.

“Regarding the issue of non-payment of outsourced personnel Management explained that it was incumbent on the requirement on those concerned to provide documentation in compliance with the Procurement Act. With significant progress made in that direction, all outsourced service providers invoices are currently undergoing processing.

“Management also indicated that notwithstanding the explanations, the Union should note that existing industrial relations protocol requires that a grievance notice is given seven (7) days prior to any planned or immediate disruptive action. It also drew attention to an ongoing intervention of the national body of the union on the issues.

“It was therefore surprising that in spite of all the steps taken and explanations made, the local chapter of the union staged a disruptive action at the entrance of the Commission’s headquarters less than 24 hours after submission of its letter of concerns”, he said.

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