Sell NNPC’s shares to all Nigerians, says NLC

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has  canvassed that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be transformed into a public liability company where every Nigerian can own shares.

NLC said the House of Representatives does not seem to sufficiently capture this desire of the Nigerian people, describing it as the major blight in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

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Speaking with The Nation, the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba said NLC, as part of its input to the PlB during its appearance at the public hearing, canvassed that the NNPC should be transformed into a public liability company where every Nigerian can own shares.

He said this desire to make the Nigerian people stakeholders in the commonwealth of the country appears to have fared quite well in the Senate’s consideration.

He said: ” We will like 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 (NNPC).

“The bill as passed by the upper chamber of the National Assembly retained the recommendation of the Joint Committee in Clause 53 which empowers the Minister of Petroleum Resources to incorporate the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation as a limited liability company to be known as NNPC Limited.

“We are 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.

“We 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.”

On the percentage of revenue proposed in the PIB as accruing to oil producing communities, Wabba  said it is important that the conference committee of the National Assembly ensures equity in the harmonisation of the three per cent  proposed by the Senate and five percent  by the House of Representatives, especially in a manner that gives a sense of justice, fairness and inclusion to oil bearing and oil producing communities in the country.

He said this is because these communities bear the impact of crude oil exploration and production.

Speaking further, Wabba said the Congress also observed 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.

Wabba , however, commended the Senate and the House of Representatives for the passage, describing it as a good news.

“It is remarkable that after about twenty years of wait since President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua first submitted the PIB to the National Assembly, the PIB is finally becoming a reality. We commend the Senate and the House of Representatives for rising to the occasion.

“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 harmonised by a conference of the two chambers of the National Assembly.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is also expected to sign the bill into law. Definitely, there are a few more hurdles to cross,” Wabba said.

On the planned sale of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Wabba warned against such move, describing it as behind-the-scene manoeuvrings of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) in the process.

Wabba said this in a statement entitled:  “This Kite will not Fly”.

Wabba said the BPE had become synonymous with an unending swindle of the people of Nigeria.

“The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has learnt with great consternation a surreptitious plan to sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). Neither the congress nor the sectoral affiliate union was officially contacted or even informally consulted on the alleged plan.

“Therefore, Congress advises that if the report was planted and so, designed to fly a kite, the paper kite is riddled with holes, sodden, clumsy and torn in different places. In a word, this kite cannot fly,” he added.

He pointed out that Nigerian workers and people were vehemently opposed to this plot, warning that they would resist the grand larceny.

Wabba said: “Congress condemns with vigour the continued balkanisation, stripping and stealing of Nigeria’s economic assets. The current attempt to hand over the Transmission Company of Nigeria to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians is self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal. Nigerian workers and people are vehemently opposed to this plot and will resist this grand larceny.”

According to him, the TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications, because it traverses all the nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

The NLC President warned that the planned sale of the TCN was only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently, raise electricity tariff, warning that Nigerians have had enough.

Wabba said: “We urge the Nigerian people to make no mistake about the plot to sell TCN as it would only result in the continuation of the regrettable policy of heaping an unbearable burden on the ordinary people. The plan would also fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and, above all, deprive the people of their age-old investment in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy.

“In sum, Congress reiterates that it is faulty to contemplate selling the TCN; it is an obvious misdirected and insupportable policy. This clandestine plot is like the kite squeaking in the dark with broken wings; it will simply not fly.

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