The meeting between the federal government and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) executives in Lagos ended in deadlock yesterday as the union insisted on embarking on a nationwide strike today.
The meeting was convened by the minister of finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iwala, in a bid to halt the plan strike as well as call off the ongoing strike which members of the union embarked on in Abuja.
NUPENG was led by its National President, Comrade Achese Igwe.
Another meeting will however be held in Abuja today. Today’s meeting will consist of leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress and an enlarged body of NUPENG national executive members.
The strike, which has paralysed socio-economic activities in Abuja was called by NUPENG in solidarity with oil marketers over delay in payment of their subsidy claims by the federal government.
President of NUPENG Comrade Achese Igwe said in Lagos that the backlog of subsidy being owed marketers by the government is unacceptable to his union because the development posed a serious threat to his members who are in the employ of these marketers.
He also questioned the veracity of subsidy the government claimed it has effected and challenged same to publish the names of the beneficiaries.
Achese, who said the government is not sincere with the subsidy payment, criticized the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala’s statement that his union is being used by oil marketers to perpetrate strike in the non-payment of subsidy claims.
He said his union will never be used because they are stakeholders in the industry, adding that the failure of the minister to meet the NNPC and marketers payment obligation is a ploy to create hardship for Nigerians.
Meanwhile, some marketers have expressed support for the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Gas Workers decision to embark on nationwide strike today should government refuse to settle the subsidy arrears owed them.
The marketers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity told our correspondent that the union’s action is the right step in the right direction.
‘’Government cannot continue to treat this subsidy regime like this and expect marketers to still be in business. They should settle us and stop this selective treatment’’, a marketer told our correspondent.
There are apprehensions that Lagos and other parts of the country will witness queues in filling stations from today if the federal government failed to do something to avert the strike.
Executive Secretary of Major Oil Marketing Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) Obafemi Lawore could not be reached for comments.