In this statement released by Babatunde Ogun, President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) reflects on the union’s role in the national strikes against the removal of subsidies on fuel.
Dear Fellow Nigerians,
With NLC and TUC calling off the strike action this afternoon, PENGASSAN which is an affiliate of the body is duty bound to comply. To this extent, I will like to inform you all that work resumes tomorrow. I salute the courage and tenacity with whichyou and the entire Nigerian youths have expressed the need for urgent reforms in the country. I will say the struggle still continues!!!
However disappointed that we are about the FG not meeting all our demands, I am very proud the voices of ordinary Nigerians especially the youths have been soundly heard in the quarters of leadership. Let us not throw away one fact, Nigeria by this singular act made history and further strengthen the principles and tenets of democracy. As the National President of PENGASSAN the last eight days have been the most challenging in my life. My life and that of my entire family have practically been on the edge but the courage of Nigerians who ‘Occupied’ the streets had led me and my team on.
Nigerians will remember that President Goodluck Jonathan, rising from the highest executive decision making platform, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, made a firm resolution that there was no going back on his unpopular
decision to suddenly remove fuel subsidy. The FG was not even ready to enter into serious negotiation with the Labour Unions.
Twenty-four hours after this stance, I and the leadership of PENGASSAN agreed to pressure the President to listen to the voices and see reasons with the Nigerian Citizenry. We knew we had no other choice than to threaten a shutdown of the crude oil production platforms if the President did not rescind is decision. As responsible leaders we were fully aware of the consequences of the action we were set to take. In fact, we understand the import of our announcement on the international prices of crude oil which immediately rose by $2 within hours of the announcement.
Most critically our announcement jolted the Presidency to come to the negotiating table. To us that was the most satisfying result we had desired. Please note that only negotiation can move the country and our hard-earned democracy forward.
Let me tell you that the shutdown would have not only denied the country of earning revenues and slow governance, we know that the entire energy sector including PHCN would have shutdown and even our hospital and other social amenities would have failed. Indeed, has the President refused to listen to Nigerians we would have had no other choice than to shutdown. We are glad that the shutdown had to be suspended to give room for peaceful negotiations. We are aware of the social-ethnic and religious tension that pervaded the land already, and we were not ready for people with narrow interests to hijack our activities to unleash mayhem on the country. Nigerians, these threats are very real!
I believe that I and the PENGASSAN leadership have taken a responsible decision to reverse our pronouncement on the shutdown notice in the very interest of peace and the unity of our nationhood. Most importantly, President Goodluck is beginning to listen. Once again I salute your courage and steadfastness. Solidarity forever. God Bless Nigeria.
Long Live Democracy
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria
National President, PENGASSAN