Set up technical committee on modalities of resolving grievances

The Federal Government of Nigeria yesterday Monday September 28 2020 and organized labour, reached a temporary two weeks truce thus suspending the planned industrial action by the leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) scheduled to kick start on Monday September 28 instead the two institutions have set up a Technical Committee to tackle the grievances of labour.

Reasons for the sudden suspension of the earlier proposed strike and meeting by both parties were contained in a joint communiqué on the resolution of trade dispute between the Federal government of Nigeria and the organized labour represented by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) held on Sunday 27 September 2020 at a tripartite meeting of government and labour, representatives.

“Recognizing the public outcry and protests over the recent federal government’s twin policies on electricity tariff, reform and full implementation of de-regulation of downstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry, resulting in the planned nationwide industrial action by organized labour and bearing in mind the spiral negative impact of COVID-19 on world economy and considering other adverse factors and effect of labour unrest at this time in view of many challenges on the nation, both parties agreed to set up a technical committee to study the turbulent issues and come out with agreed modalities and palliatives to be adopted to salvage the situation”, they stated. Labour further stated that “the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive roll – out”.

The Technical Committee membership is as follows:

Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN – Hon. Minister of State Labour & Employment – Chairman

Mr. Godwin Jedy-Agba – Hon. Minister of State Power – Member

Prof. James Momoh – Chairman National Electricity Regulatory Commission – Member

Engr. Ahmad Rufai Zakari – SA to Mr. President on Infrastructure – Member/Secretary

Dr. Onoho Omhen Ebhohimhen – Member (NLC)

Comrade Joe Ajaero – Member (NLC)

Comrade Chris Okonkwo – Member (TUC)

1no. Representative of DISCOS – Member

The Terms of Reference as handed down to the committee include:

To examine the justification for the new policy on cost – reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.

To look at the different Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.

To examine and advise Government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the six million prepaid meters.

To look into the NERC Act under review with a view to expanding its representation to include organized labour.

The Technical sub- committee is to submit its report within two (2) weeks. During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost – reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.

The meeting also resolved that the following issues of concern to Labour should be treated as “stand – alone” items:

The 40% stake of Government in the DISCO and the stake of workers to be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s Boards.

An all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MOU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with Labour represented.

That going forward, the moribund National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) be inaugurated before the end of the year 2020 to institutionalize the process of tripartism and socio dialogue on socio – economic and major labour matters to forestall crisis 

And on downstream sector deregulation, the resolution for a truce

Read thus, consequent upon the critical review of the various challenges of the downstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry vis a vis the incalculable losses associated with a subsidy regime the Country has been incurring in terms of, stifled growth in the downstream sector, diminished human capital development and massive financial leakages and flight. This is in addition to the dire financial circumstances of the Federation that precludes any ability to sustain any subsidy on PMS and making deregulation of PMS inevitable. Consequently, the Parties agreed to the following:

All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the over dependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.

To address (1) above, NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50% completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.

To ensure Commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

A validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the Steering Committee periodically.

Post rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the Nation’s refineries.

The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.

NNPC to expedite work on the Build, Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of Petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.

The Federal Government and its agencies to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG Auto Gas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery.