By Nsikan Ikpe
With fuel queues persisting into their second month, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to step down as Minister of Petroleum.
According to the labour body, this is because the office is too critical to the economy to be combined with the office of the President and Commander-In -Chief.
According to the congress, the perfect candidate for the job should be someone who has the necessary knowledge, experience and competence that would directly supervise the affairs of the ministry and report to the president.
TUC however noted that although the position of the Minister of State for Petroleum and Mineral Resources should remain as a junior minister in the ministry, a different Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should also be appointed to directly supervise the affairs of the NNPC.
Its President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, made this call at the “Save Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Round Table Conference in Abuja.
He said: “There is cogent need for appointment of a substantive Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources. The ideal candidate for this should be someone who has the necessary knowledge, experience and competence, and who would directly oversee the affairs of the ministry and report regularly to the President.
“That position is too critically important to the economy to be subsumed as one of the many offices or portfolios of the President and Commander-in-Chief. Of course the position of Minister of State for Petroleum and Mineral Resources should continue to exist as a junior minister in the ministry.
A separate Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should also be appointed to directly supervise the affairs of the NNPC.”
The TUC boss added that all the appointees must be persons of bold, incorruptible and sound principles.
Kaigama pointed out that the cabals in the sector emerged due to corruption in the corporation.
He stressed that “it is high time we halt the ugly trend whereby members of the cabal are paid billions of naira for ‘fuel imports’ that never reach our shores.”
In his address, the President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said that Nigeria is the worst case scenario in the management of oil and gas wealth in the world.
He told a story of his colleague in Ghana that revealed that his country is guarding against the Nigerian experience in her fledging oil sector.
The labour leader noted that the problem in the oil and gas industry is not lack of law but adherence to the laws.
He advised Nigerians to oppose anyone that flout the law, adding that he refused to pay N200 per liter for the petrol he bought in a station in Kaduna State two weeks ago because the pump price is N86 per litre.
Chairman of the occasion, Ambassador Paddy Njoku in his address said that for government to achieve the aims of the Nigerian Content Monitoring Board Act , it is vital to continually collaborate with industry stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the act.
He sought the passage of the pending Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law in order to strengthen the progress that the board has made.
In his presentation, Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun, submitted that “it is better to have a not too perfect PIB that could be reviewed in the next few years than allow the status quo to remain as it has been these last 16 years.
“Stakeholders should close ranks as the death of the oil and gas industry shall have ripple effects on the state of the Nigerian economy as we still run a monolithic economic system,” Ogbeifun said.