The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers late on Wednesday said it had put hold the nationwide strike the union members scheduled to commence on today.
The President of the union, Mr. Achese Igwe, who made the announcement said the ongoing strike in Abuja would however continue.
The latest development came on the heels of an intervention by the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) in the ongoing face-off between NUPENG and the Federal Government over the non-payment of subsidy claims to oil marketers.
NUPENG had on Monday threatened to embark on a nationwide strike on Thursday (today) if the government refused to pay subsidy claims of marketers.
The union had on Thursday last week started an industrial action in the Federal Capital Territory. The strike has led to fuel scarcity in the FCT.
The Chairman of the senate committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Senator Magnus Abe, told one of our correspondents on Wednesday that the committee had met with NUPENG and the Ministry of Finance on the matter with a view to finding a way out of the problem.
Explaining the Senate’s intervention, Abe said, “I have just finished speaking with the NUPENG President and it is clear there is no need for any strike. What is happening is a misunderstanding and we are trying to reach out so that we can find a solution to the problem.”
According to him, the committee has also reached out to the Ministry of Finance and “the information was that 25 marketers have been paid their claims on subsidy.”
“The Ministry of Finance has promised to pay all legitimate claims and the minister said that 25 companies had been paid. We have requested all the documents containing the list of the companies paid and what was paid so that we can clear the misunderstanding,” Abe said.
He also noted that the committee would not support any strike action by NUPENG as it would not address the problems facing the industry and Nigeria at the moment.
On whether the strike was a ploy to promote the call for total removal of subsidy, Abe said, “The issue of subsidy removal, I think there is a consensus that subsidy will go, but when and how is the issue.
“I think there is no reason why anybody should use that to bring further hardship on Nigerians. The problem I think is a misunderstanding between NUPENG and the Ministry of Finance.”
Incidentally, Abe is chairing a Joint Committee of the Senate, which has carried out an investigation into the subsidy regime in the country but the committee has yet to submit its report to the Senate.