- President Buhari and Governor Okowa have assured labour leaders of freedom of association
- The duo urged the leaders to embrace dialogue rather than confrontation in resolving industrial disputes
- Okowa said labour leaders have achieved more using dialogue rather than confrontations in addressing issues
President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa have assured labour leaders of freedom of association urging them to embrace dialogue rather than confrontation in resolving industrial disputes.
The call was made on Thursday, December 6, in Abuja at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) which has the theme: "Nigeria Oil & Gas Workers; Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow."
President Buhari who was the special guest of honour, noted that his administration believes in constitutionality especially as it relates to Section 40 of the Constitution which gives room to freedom of association.
The president represented by the minister of labour and employment, Senator Chris Ngige, lauded NUPENG for its contributions to the growth of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and the actualisation of June 12 mandate commending Trade Unions for their role in the defence of democracy.
He assured that the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly will be given speedy consideration once the National Assembly passes the Bill.
On his part, Governor Okowa noted that labour leaders have achieved more using dialogue rather than confrontations in addressing issues.
His words: “I believe that the best unionists are those who learn to engage in dialogue and to that extent I must appreciate all the unions in Delta state for partnering with us through dialogue to help us derive peace and consolidate on the gains that have been made by previous administrations in our dear state.
“Unionism is good and it is something that must be encouraged as a nation and in the various industries because without unions there will be chaos in work places. NUPENG is strong in pushing for the welfare of her members but we must have it in mind that as a union we have a lot of role to play in the affairs of the nation whenever we gather to discuss.”
While congratulating NUPENG on its 40th anniversary celebrations, Governor Okowa also commended the union for its maturity in handling labour issues.
“NUPENG has been a very reasonable union in the course of administering her members in this nation because there are some people when they do realise that they are a very important organisation as a union they can use it very wrongly to hold the nation to ransom but that has not been the drive of NUPENG and we thank God for that and that is why unions must partner with those in government in Nigeria in the interest of our nation,” the governor said.
Chairman of the occasion, General Yakubu Gowon, in his welcome address lauded NUPENG for its role in the development of the oil and gas sector in Nigeria and urged NUPENG to address the challenges facing the union.
According to him, most Nigerians see the union as a very powerful union that can hold the whole nation to a standstill over industrial strikes.
He recalled NUPENG's contribution to fighting for the growth of democracy in Nigeria adding that the sustenance of Nigeria economy depends largely on NUPENG's contributions to the growth of the oil sector which remains largely the country's source of revenue.
Earlier, president of NUPENG, Comrade Williams Akporeha, said the union has contributed immensely not only to the growth of the economy but in the enthronement of peace and development of the Nigeria's democratic experience in the last four decades.
He, however, lamented that casualisation in the oil and gas sector is threatening the existence of the union as both local and foreign companies in Nigeria.
Governor Okowa, recently called on those who are trying to foment crisis in Delta state using oil surveillance contract as a ploy to desist, stressing that such could cause economic challenges to the nation.
The governor made the call on Wednesday, November 28, in Asaba when he addressed some aggrieved youths from host communities to OML 30 and some ex-agitators from phases one to three of the federal government amnesty programme.
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