President Muhammedu Buhari and Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, have urged labour leaders to embrace dialogue rather than confrontation in resolving industrial disputes.
Speaking in Abuja at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) Buhari noted that his administration believes in constitutionality especially as it relates to Section 40 of the Constitution which gives room to freedom of association.
Represented by Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, Buhari lauded NUPENG for its contributions to the growth of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
He assured that the Petroleum Industry Bill before the National Assembly will be given speedy consideration once the National Assembly passes the Bill.
In his remark, Okowa noted that labour leaders have achieved more using dialogue rather than confrontations in addressing issues.
He said that “I believe that the best unionists are those who learn to engage in dialogue and to that extent i must appreciate all the unions in Delta State for partnering with us through dialogue to help us derive peace and consolidate on the gains that have been made by previous administrations in our dear state”.
“Unionism is good and it is something that must be encouraged as a nation and in the various industries because without unions there will be chaos in work places. NUPENG is strong in pushing for the welfare of her members but we must have it in mind that as a union we have a lot of role to play in the affairs of the nation whenever we gather to discuss”, the governor added.
While congratulating NUPENG on its 40th anniversary celebrations, Governor Okowa commended the organisation for its maturity in handling labour issues stating it had been a very reasonable union.
He hailed the union for not using their position to hold the nation to ransom, calling on them to partner with those in government in the interest of Nigeria.
At the ceremony, Okowa was conferred with NUPENG’s award for Peace in recognition of his contributions to peaceful oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking on the award, OKowa said: “I receive this award with gratitude, we will continue to contribute our little quota to the development of our state and our nation.
“I must truly appreciate NUPENG for their drive to have a more peaceful and better Nigeria. I thank you for recognising our modest efforts in ensuring peace and security in Delta State which has impacted positively on not just the economy of Delta State but the entire country.
“As the largest producer of oil and gas in Nigeria it is imperative that all stakeholders must continue to work hard for sustainable peace and development in the oil and gas sector”.
Chairman of the occasion, General Yakubu Gowon in his welcome address urged NUPENG to address image challenges facing the union as most Nigerians see the union as a very powerful union that can hold the whole nation to a standstill with industrial actions.
Earlier President of NUPENG, Comrade Williams Akporeha said the union has contributed immensely not only to the growth of the economy but in the enthronement of peace and development of the Nigeria’s democratic experience in the last four decades. He noted that casualisation in the oil and gas sector is threatening the existence of the union as both local and foreign companies in Nigeria.