Oil workers of Nigerian refineries demand investors' identity

Apr 26, 2005 02:00 AM

Privatisation of the nation's oil refineries came under heavy scrutiny, with oil workers accusing the Federal Government of concealing relevant information needed for a successful and transparent exercise.
The workers said government is yet to disclose the worth of the refineries and identity of investors, noting that such method tend to cast aspersion on the sincerity of state action. They, therefore, demanded that government disclose the identity of men seeking to take over the running of the refineries.

President, Petroleum and Energy Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Dr Brown Ogbeifun, who said this, urged government to align itself with the due process procedure, to avoid embarrassment.
"We have often asked, for anyone to invest in the refineries, Nigerians will want to know the worth of the assets, who the investors are, under what condition, and the level of readiness of the refineries to continuously produce finished products,” Ogbeifun said.

He said similar approach in thepast was instrumental to the collapse of privatisation deal of Nigeria Telecommunication, and others like it, adding that the workers are currently meeting with Bureau of Public Enterprises on the issues, affirming that the demand for such information would only help "government to forestall any embarrassment of having collapsed deals, as witnessed in the steel sector, NITEL and ALSCON.”
"We refuse to allow them use trial by error procedure in privatising strategic assets like the refineries," he said.

He said his Association is not against the privatisation exercise as being misconstrued in certain quarters, having agreed to the partnering option with global refiners as a way of removing government interference from operations of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. Its disagreement was the hasty manner in which government was going about the exercise, without following due process.
He refuted government’s claim that over-staffing of the refineries was responsible for the little interest shown by investors, noting that the argument was only a cheap blackmail to sustain the restructuring exercise.

According to him, in the last one year, NNPC retrenched more than 4,000 employees, the last being 2,355 in December last year.
“By now, investors would have been falling over each other in the scramble for ownership," he said.

Source: This Day
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