President General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Festus Osifo, has said that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has given his word that the Port Harcourt refinery will become operational at the end of the year.
Osifo, alongside his counterpart, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joe Ajaero, met with Tinubu at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday amid a nationwide protest.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), the National Union of Electricity Employees of Nigeria (NUEE), the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) also joined the protest.
The unions demanded “the immediate reversal of all anti-poor policies of the federal government including the recent hike in PMS (Premium Motor Spirit) price, increase in public school fees, the release of the eight months withheld salary of university lecturers and workers”.
Two years ago, Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Sylva under former President Muhammadu Buhari said in an interview on Channels Television that the “Port Harcourt Refinery will work, and certainly within the next 18 months.”
“There are plans to also fix the Warri Refinery and Kaduna Refinery and then we would get all those staff to work,” he added.
However, these refineries have yet to become operational.
Speaking during Channels Television’s Politics Today, the union leader held that the nationwide protest was “largely successful “and had the impact to spur the President to fix the major refineries across the nation.
“When we asked him, even before now, part of the things they have also said was issued around the supply chain.
“We told him categorically, ‘Tell us when would the refinery start functioning? What we had from them was that by the end of this year, the refinery – the whole Port Harcourt refinery would come on stream most definitely by the end of the year,'” he said on Wednesday night.
The PENGASSAN president also stated that organised labour would make sure President Tinubu’s assurances would not just be empty talk but that a structure would be put in place to hold the number one citizen accountable.
“Today, they told us that by the end of this year, the whole Port Harcourt refinery will come on stream. With the extra information that we have, we believe it is possible, but we need to keep checking on them to ensure that we actually achieve that feat.”
On the state of other refineries, Osifo believes the duo of Warri and Kaduna are an easy fix but that of the latter is hampered by the security situation in the country
“The Port Harcourt refinery is a total rehabilitation but the Kaduna and the Warri refinery is a quick fix.
“Both refineries, they awarded to do, but at a particular point, they will mobilise to Warri, but Kaduna they refuse to mobilise because of security issues. So, Warri is actually ahead of Kaduna, but as of today, they have not given us a clear timeline on that,” he said.