By Oladeinde Olawoyin
President Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to sign the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into law once the bill is re-transmitted to the presidency.
Mr Buhari gave the pledge at the 40th anniversary of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Thursday in Abuja.
The theme of the anniversary is, “Nigeria Oil and Gas Workers; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.
Mr Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said the bill would address most of the challenges of the oil workers and the industry as a whole.
He urged the workers to support his administration towards ensuring better welfare for workers.
Mr Buhari also commended the workers for the progress made, while urging them to dialogue instead of shutting down the country while in a dispute with their employers.
“(I am) a workers friendly president, who is concerned about better working conditions for workers.
“(I) respect the rule of law and the law of the land. (I) promise to sign the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill once it is brought to (me),” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Buhari had in September refused to sign the PIGB after it was passed by lawmakers. He raised concerns about some of the content and asked for those to be amended by the lawmakers.
The president’s statement on Thursday indicates his readiness to sign the bill once the amendments are done.
Speaking earlier, NUPENG president, Williams Akporeha, decried the continued ‘casualisation’ of workers by oil companies, saying the union would always fight for better working conditions of its members.
“The enormous challenges confronting our union, most especially with regards to the employers, government and general public perception of our enormous powers, influence and ever constant solidarity.
“We know that often, many employers are scared of relating with us and this wrong perception is sometimes responsible for the hostile attitude to our efforts in organising their employees.
“In the light of this realisation, our administration will embark on massive public image polishing and mending relationship with all aggrieved stakeholders.
“Our new mission is to ensure prosperity and good returns for everyone in the industry. We pledge to be more cooperative and collaborative in our dealings but without compromising on the best interest of our members and global labour best practices.
“We have further resolved to be more open and engaging in social dialogue with all stakeholders. We urge everyone, government, employers and the public to know that we are fully committed. That is, in rendering efficient, effective and public/stakeholders friendly services to our dear country and its citizens,” he said.
Also, former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, called on the union to ensure availability of fuel supply during the Yuletide season.
He added that owing to the recent spate of strikes, citizens were beginning to see NUPENG as a force for economic dislocation.
He urged them to embrace dialogue rather than using strike as a first option.