Ondo Rep. Joseph Akinlaja, Chairs NUPENG 40th Anniversary Round Table Discussion

By Emmanuel Ajibulu

Hon. Joseph Iranola Akinlaja on Wednesday (December 5, 2018) chaired a round table discussion organized by the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) being part of day-1 activities marking the Union’s 40th anniversary at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

Akinlaja who is a Federal lawmaker representing Ondo East and West Federal constituency at the National Assembly and also Chairman House Committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream played active roles in moderating the oil Union’s round table discussion after a lead paper presentation by an erudite lawyer, Barrister Femi Falana (SAN), on the topic “Local Contents in Nigeria oil and gas industry; wherein lies interests of Nigeria workers?”

Others who exhaustively added their voices to the topic as members of panel of discussants were, Dr Kayode Ajulo, a legal practitioner and human rights activist, Mrs. Omabie Akpan from the Ministry of Labour, Comrade Owei Lakemfa, a seasoned trade unionist etc.

The discussants used the platform to admonish key stakeholders in the industry especially NUPENG to take the bull by the horn and defend oil and gas workers’ rights no matter whose ox is gored.

They also urged NUPENG to challenge the inactions of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCMB) and do everything possible to make the board bark and bite in the overall interest of the oil workers particularly in the areas of expatriate quotas.

The 2010 Act which brought this board into existence essentially sought to increase indigenous participation in the nation’s oil and gas industry by prescribing, among other things, minimum thresholds in relation to the utilization of local manpower, services and goods as a means of adding value to the Nigerian economy by stimulating growth of indigenous capacity.

And by virtue of Section 33 of the Act, operators are required to apply for approval of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) before submitting applications for expatriate quotas (including variations) to the Federal Ministry of Interior (Immigration Department) or any other agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The NCDMB guidelines set out the procedure and requirements for an application for new expatriate quota position(s) and the extension of existing ones. Additionally, prior to making an application to the Ministry of Interior for the extension of an expatriate’s stay the approval of the Content Board must be sought.

These stipulations no doubt suggest that the enactment of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Local Content Act was one of the rare steps in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the anniversary equally had another session whereby Nigeria oil and gas tools, products and projects were exhibited by the industry stakeholders as well as cultural performances from the 4 Zonal councils of the Union (Lagos, Port Harcourt,  Kaduna and Warri)

Before Hon. Akinlaja delved into active politics, he was a labour leader of note having rose to the position of deputy national president of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Secretary General of NUPENG. Thereafter, the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (a branch of NUPENG) made him their Grand Patron/Technical Consultant.

Others in attendance were the Union’s veterans, Comrade Ovie Frank Kokori, Comrade Isaac Aberare, Comrade Peter Akpatason, Comrade Joseph Ogbebor, representatives of National Union of Minesworkers of both South Africa and Ghana, President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson, National Chairman of the Petroleum Tanker Branch of NUPENG, Comrade (Otunba) Akanni Salimon Oladiti, the Chief host himself, Comrade Williams Eniredonana Akporeha among other dignitaries.

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