The meeting between the Federal Government and Labour unions in the oil and gas sector could not hold on Thursday last week as announced by the Ministry of Labour and Employment as a result of the extended Muslims Eid El Fitri celebrations.
This is coming as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria maintained that the strike by its members had commenced, stressing that the nationwide shutdown of activities in the sector would be felt in full force after the Eid-el-Fitr holidays.
It also stated that there was no way it could get all its executive members to attend the planned meeting summoned by the government in Abuja on Thursday.
In a bid to avert the planned strike by PENGASSAN, the Federal Government had on Wednesday convened a meeting with the oil workers for Thursday at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The meeting, according the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, was to discuss the modalities for ending the lingering crisis in the petroleum sector.
But findings at the Petroleum Resources ministry on Thursday showed that no meeting was held as security officials told our correspondent that neither the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation nor the ministry informed them of any meeting.
“If there is any meeting here today, we will be told and the details of those to attend will be sent to us in order to ease clearance, but nothing of such was given. So, there is no meeting whatsoever happening here today,” a security officer at the entrance to the NNPC Towers said.
Olowookere later on Thursday told one of our correspondents, “The meeting has been postponed till Monday by 11:00am at the same venue. The meeting was not held today because of the public holidays and the festive season; some of the people expected at the meeting are Muslims.
“It is also not convenient to hold the meeting on Friday; so, the best thing to do is to fix it for Monday when everybody will be refreshed.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer, PENGASSAN, Mr. Emmanuel Ojugbana, said the strike had commenced, adding that the impact had not been severe because of the holidays.
When asked if the union was not aware of the meeting with the government, Ojugbana replied, “As far as I am concerned, there is no meeting with the government. How can they send us a mail for a meeting that is meant to hold on Thursday morning by Wednesday evening? And mind you, they know that our executive members are not all in Abuja.
“Anyway, the strike will be fully felt once work resumes; and as for the meeting, I can confirm to you that there is no ongoing meeting between us and the government.”
Meanwhile, Niger Delta militants have blown up an oil pipeline belonging to a subsidiary of Italy’s Eni, Nigerian Agip Oil Company.
The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps disclosed that suspected militants blew up an oil pipeline belonging to the Agip Oil Company on Friday last week.
The NSCDC spokesman, Desmond Agwu, said NSCDC officials exchanged gunfire with the hoodlums after the blast in Lasukugbene, Bayelsa state.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the blast but Industry watchers believed the attack might have been carried out by militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, which have claimed responsibility for about five attacks in the last six days.