By Ola Adeola
Oil workers’ union, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, have threatened to ground the country over proposed sale of national assets. The Federal Government has said it would dispose off of some critical national assets while the proceeds are spent to boost the country’s currently recessed economy.
Emmanuel Ojugbana, PENGASSAN’s public relations officer, said the proposed sale is a plan to ‘hand over our collective wealth to a few individuals and further impoverish the rest of our countrymen and women.”
“Any attempt to sell these national assets will be met with stiff resistance from the association, as PENGASSAN will galvanise every support, including that of our sister union and labour centres to shut down this country by ensuring that every activity in the oil and gas sector is brought to a complete halt.
“Some opportunists in the clothes of businessmen and short-sighted politicians had earlier advocated the sale of public assets such as the NLNG, four state-owned refineries, Nigeria’s stakes in the Africa Finance Corporation, the nation’s airports and reduction of government’s shares in upstream oil joint venture operations and this was approved by the National Economic Council.
“They should tell us what will happen after the recession if we have sold the assets to greedy individuals. Will the country go cap in hand begging those individuals who bought the assets and borrowing from them?”
On his part, Bala Kaigama, TUC president, told PUNCH, they will join hands with PENGASSAN in the battle against the government’s plan.
“We will solidarise with them. You cannot sell vital assets like that. You don’t. If those who invested in the assets had sold them, would they have met them?
“Of course, these business people, who are saying sell and sell, let them pay the appropriate taxes. Those people who are not paying the appropriate taxes, let them pay the appropriate taxes and money will accrue to the Federal Government.
“TUC will solidarise with NUPENG and PENGASSAN to shut down the country.”