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03.04.2024 Article

Don't Convert NUPENG National Secretariat To Business Centre, PTD Cries Out

...Tells Lagos Govt To Sanction Union For Compromising Safety Standards
By Ayodele Bayode
Don't Convert NUPENG National Secretariat To Business Centre, PTD Cries Out
03.04.2024 LISTEN

The crisis and war of words rocking the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has continued to exacerbate as one of the leaders of Petroleum Tanker Drivers in Port Harcourt Zone, Elder Benibo Okorie recently lambasted the General Secretary of the Union, Afolabi Olawale for attempting to deceive oil workers by using the newly built national secretariat of the union as a commercial enterprise for profit making and personal gains.

Elder Benibo made the remarks during the Easter holiday at the Hotel Presidential during an interview with some labour correspondents in Port Harcourt on Monday.

He accused NUPENG leaders of converting the 8th storey building Secretariat to a multi-tenanted serviced office space for wiling members of the public as against the original purpose of using the building for the convenience of paid staff and elected officials of the union.

The elder statesman also lampooned NUPENG leaders for deviating from the original plan of the project when it was initially conceived. He further accused them of lying to the oil workers, especially PTD, NNPC and other stakeholders in the industry who supported them financially for the successful completion of the edifice.

The yet-to-be commissioned new secretariat otherwise known as NUPENG Tower is at number 9 Jibowu street, Yaba, Lagos, and at present is conspicuously littered with posters notifying interested individuals or groups about the availability of office spaces.

"It is globally established that, where high-rise buildings are put into multiple occupations, certain problems arise structurally and in terms of security which eventually could affect the building structure, occupants and the surrounding natural environment either directly or indirectly. In the case of NUPENG the environmental impact assessment of the building project doesn't permit larger human occupation for that multi-storey building. Think about vehicular movement too, that corridor will attract heavy traffic gridlock. It is high time Lagos building agencies looked into the books and sanctioned NUPENG accordingly, for compromising safety standards and environmental guidelines.

"The state government must consistently ensure that basic minimum standards are maintained in building construction and renovation of existing and new buildings to be safe, healthy, accessible and habitable for present and future generations. It is an offence to endanger your own life and that of others, no one can be said to be bigger than the law or the state, not even NUPENG.

"I can recall very vividly what the President and General Secretary of NUPENG explained to all stakeholders, especially PTD branch of NUPENG and NNPC who financially supported the project right from the time of conception to the time of its successful completion. During the ground laying ceremony of the project in Lagos on Thursday, 12th day of December 2019, Afolabi Olawale the General Secretary, put the total figure at N5.5bn for the completion and he didn't say it will later turn out to be a business centre.

"NUPENG has lost touch with the current realities in the country, particularly crime rate. There has been an increased crime rate in Nigeria and the major crimes committed in the country lately include kidnapping, murder, burglary, fraud, terrorism, robbery, cyber-related, rape, bribery and corruption, money laundering, etc.

"Recently the office of NUPENG where the staff are temporarily using as its national secretariat was burgled by unknown gunmen some weeks back and the official car of the President was vandalized in the process, a Lexus SUV. The vehicle brain box was also stolen away by these assailants, the in-house security personnel were overpowered, worst still, the CCTV was also not working, those men had field day and their vicious operation was somewhat successful.

"Yet, NUPENG has learnt no lesson, they still want to operate under a multi-tenanted atmosphere, where security of lives and properties could be jeopardized and more worrisome, sensitive documents of the Union could also be compromised. We no longer have leaders with thinking caps, they only think of how to make money for selfish purposes. We are really missing late Chief Frank Kokori and other living and late veterans of our great Union whose names are written in gold."

While condemning the actions of the Union leaders for deviating from the initial plan of the project upon which money was solicited, the 71 year old Elder Benibo said:

"When we have a mixture of people with conflicting ideas, activities and principles who are cohabitating in a single building, there is bound to be conflict of interest and the union activities could also be compromised since there won't be restrictions for free entry and exit. The new secretariat of the union should be solely used for Union activities and not for commercial purposes because of the security implications.

"For those with very sharp memory, you will clearly recall that the President, Williams Akporeha and the General Secretary, Afolabi in December 2019, during the ground laying ceremony told the world that NUPENG Tower will be a mix structure of residential, recreational and office building comprising of eight floors with all the services including lift, adequate car park, water treatment facility, event/conference halls, offices for NUPENG staff, officials, flats and a penthouse all for the full use of staff and elected officials, they never said any of the floors would be put out for lease or let. These are men with no integrity or high moral rectitude, they are not fit and proper to be union leaders.

"Check very well, serious-minded organizations don't make their headquarters a multi-tenanted building because of a security breach. Those who are familiar with Jibowu will realize that WAEC is also on that corridor, their building is only occupied by their staff. No bank headquarters will do such, no right thinking union will ever contemplate that, especially at a time like this. NUPENG's decision was not properly thought through.

"However, we call on all industry stakeholders to come to our aid in taking NUPENG, particularly PTD out of its present quagmire for peace and progress to reign. We also appeal to the judiciary, the final arbiter, to ensure that justice is served. The generality of PTD are yearning for the official reinstatement of Comrade Lucky Osesua, Comrade Dayyabu Garga, Comrade Humble Power Obinna and others to continue from where they stopped in the PTD national leadership affairs. All tankers drivers believe that with them the branch will be free from slavery, oppression, intimidation etc, and more importantly stooges will no longer parade themselves as leaders. PTD must be allowed to breathe. Please also permit me to thank you, the Nigerian media for giving us a voice in your respective platforms, God bless you all.”

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