Newly inaugurated national President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, (NUPENG), Comrade Prince Williams Akporeha has called on Nigerian government not to allow the ongoing reforms in the oil industry to lead to job loss or victimization of oil workers.
He specifically maintained that NUPENG under his leadership will do everything possible to safeguard workers’ welfare whilst requesting that the implementation of Petroleum Industry Bill by the legislative and executive arms of government should not impact negatively on workers in the oil and gas sector.
According to him the Petroleum Industry Bill which is already being harmonized by both Senate and House of Representatives should help to strengthen the interest of oil workers, host communities, International Oil Companies (IOCs) government and other key stakeholders in the downstream, upstream and mid-stream sectors without any iota of resentments or bias.
Comrade Prince Williams Akporeha made these remarks in his acceptance speech shortly after his inauguration as national President of NUPENG on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the oil union’s 4th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference, (NDC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
‘’Dear esteemed Comrades, you are all aware that we are coming on board at this critical time when our industry is facing two critical challenges of changes and reforms. One of these challenges is the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill that has just been harmonized and passed by the two national assemblies. There is no doubt the passage of the bill is long overdue but nevertheless, the implementation of this Act must not be allowed to impact negatively on job security of workers in the industry.
‘’The second challenge relates to the theme of this national delegates conference. Globalization has created series of challenges to the global working class. The new dimension of these challenges is the replacement of Man at work with machine. The race between Man and Machine has left workers with the wrong side of the baton with redundancies being served on our plates every now and then. Union membership has been seriously depleted due to the impact of Industry 4.0.
‘’It is within this context, that we commend President Muhammadu Buhari on his “Nigeria First initiative” on job recruitment order. This we believe will go a long way in halting the expanding and increasing unemployment level of qualified youths in the country.” Comrade Akpohera stated.
The acceptance speech further noted; Notwithstanding all the above challenges, I stand here to give you my assurance that we will use all resources at our disposal, both human and material to defend the job interest of all our members. We shall protect our collective interest with our collective resources in line with extant rules.”
He continued, “Be assured of the fact also, that we shall show more commitment and seriousness in the vision of taking the union to next level by building on stability and unity of the union as well as ensuring a stable financial base through prudency, frugality, transparency and accountability.
‘’We will also vigorously embark on tactful and strategic unionization of workers in the formal and informal sectors of the oil and gas industry into NUPENG. This new approach to unionization will include careful and objective recruitment of Organisers, indept research work, creation and consistent maintenance of efficient and effective collaborative Union-Management relationship.’’
Prince Akporeha in his compassionate disposition also extended his warm hands of fellowship to others who were ambitious of same elective positions to join him and the new elected officials in building a strong, united and purpose-driven NUPENG.
Akporeha, a reticent but firm and astute labour leader of note, known for his penchant for humility, and deep respect for elders used the auspicious occasion to acknowledge and extol the virtues, efforts and contributions of NUPENG’s founding fathers and heroes, he said:
‘’May I also use this medium to state that, we are conscious of the fact that there are some great minds among us that sacrificed their ambitions for one position or the other for the sake of peace and unity of our union. There is no doubt in the fact that the elective positions are limited in number and cannot go round every interested individuals. We appreciate you all and assured all and sundry that this administration will be an all inclusive and all embracing one, We shall definitely make use of your wisdom, knowledge, skills and expertise as we all work together to take our union to the next level.
‘’It is very imperative for me at this juncture to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of our elders and veterans to the great strides, peace and unity of the union. We thank God for sparing your lives and blessing you with good health and great wisdom to intervene in our union’s matters and issues at critical times. We pledge to keep in very close touch and relationship with our elders and veterans.
‘’We appreciate these wonderful veterans of our time, who have done us proud in various ways, ranging from our founding fathers, Comrade John Jonas Dubre, erudite and irrepressible Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, ever indefatigable and quintessential Hon. (Comrade) Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, articulate and vibrant Hon. (Comrade) Peter Akpatason, Comrade B.B Awe, other past great leaders.’’
He equally commended his predecessor, Comrade Igwe Achese for very impactful leadership styles and laudable achievements.
“NUPENG will never forget you for your legacies will live forever. You are a man of interprets, vision and purpose. The regime of Comrade Igwe Achese executed so many tremendous and adorable projects and initiatives. Indeed you are an inspiration and a challenge to us to continue with these great works that you began. I am confident that with this new team that has come on board today, we shall keep the flag flying higher and make you proud.”
The Port Harcourt delegates conference of NUPENG was graced with the theme: Impact of Technology (Industry 4.0) on Industrial Relations in the Workplace, speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara was the chairman of the event.
Similarly, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was the guest of honour, also Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream Hon Joseph Iranola Akinlaja, Comrade Salimon Oladiti, Hon Peter Akpatason, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, among other high profile guests. The immediate past President of the union, Comrade Igwe Achese, was the chief host.
The successful process had Comrade Joe Ajaero president of the United Labour Congress (ULC) as the electoral chairman. Akpohera and other new set of leaders will run the affairs of the union for the next four years in line with NUPENG’s regulations and rules.
Comrade Prince Williams Akpohera until his election as NUPENG president, was the National Treasurer of the Union and Delta State Chairman of United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC.
He started his leadership role in NUPENG as a branch secretary, branch chairman, Warri Zonal Council Treasurer, Warri Zonal Council Chairman, and Warri Zonal Vice President. He was also Delta State Vice Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Delta State Chairman of NLC. Other members of NUPENG new NAC are Bassey Harry, and Olujid Kilanko Deputy Presidents, Aneru Bello, Rotimi Benjamin, Lucky Etuokwu, and Adamu Abdulkadri, Vice Presidents Warri Zone, Lagos Zone, Port Harcourt Zone and Kaduna Zone.
Also elected members of the NAC include Alex Agwanwor, National Treasurer, Monday Osunde National Trustee, Cogent Ojobor, National Public Relations Officer, PRO, Odudu Benjamin, National Industrial Relations Officer, P. A. Onyeodi, Financial Secretary, Victoria Oyeleke, National Welfare Officer, Suleiman Runka, National Auditor, Thompson Abiodun, National Auditor and Prince Moses, National Chief Whip.