The operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, were shut down September 16, as angry workers stopped work over the N85 billion gap in its pension funds that led to the withdrawal of the license of the corporation’s pension scheme by regulators.
The National Pension Commission, PENCOM, the custodian of the nation’s pension fund, through a memo signed by Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, director general, was said to have revoked the pension license of the NNPC Pension Scheme because it failed to bridge the N85billion gap which exists in the scheme.
Staffers of the NNPC have shut down operations across the country on account of N85 billion in pension liabilities. But the management of NNPC says it is doing everything possible to avert the looming industrial action by members of the corporation’s arm of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, PENGASSAN, and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG.
The workers are demanding for adequate and regular funding of the closed pension system, immediate steps to carry out turn around maintenance, TAM, on the four refineries, as agreed between government and the two unions, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, and restoration of crude supply to the refineries. According to the Babatunde Oke, PENGASSAN’s media and information officer, there was a total compliance of the strike in all the NNPC locations across the country. Oke said other members of the union might join their colleagues in NNPC, should the issues raised not be addressed, adding that the matter has gone beyond granting of a one-year grace to the NNPC by PENCOM.
He added that the management of the NNPC should put in place machinery that would automatically fund the pension system, cutting out bureaucratic bottlenecks. According to him, the funding had been delayed due to the failure of the NNPC board to meet for over a year to approve the proposal of the management for the funding of the pension system.
Ohi Alegbe, group general manager, public affairs division of NNPC, said that PENCOM had given a 12-month window for the corporation to comply with the Pension Reform Act 2014 as amended. He said the Corporation appealed to the leadership of the industrial unions to exercise restraint while it embarks on extensive engagement with PENCOM to resolve the issues.