The offices of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency across the country were on Tuesday shut down by the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PPPRA Branch, as result of issues bordering on the appointment of an acting executive secretary for the agency.
PPPRA is an agency of the Federal Government that fixes and regulates the prices of petroleum products in Nigeria.
Last week Thursday, the former Executive Secretary of the agency, Mr. Farouk Ahmed, handed over to the most senior management staff of the organisation, Mr. Moses Mbaba, who is the organisation’s General Manager, Administration and Human Resources.
But trouble started on Monday at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja when after Mbaba was sent on an official assignment to Lagos, one Mrs. Sotonye Iyoyo, who is not a staff of the agency was allegedly sent by the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources to head the PPPRA as its new acting ES.
It was gathered that this prompted PENGASSAN members at the various offices of the agency to shut down the operations of the PPPRA nationwide on Tuesday.
PENGASSAN Chairman, PPPRA Branch, Mr. Victor Confirmed the nationwide shut down to our correspondent during an interview, and stressed that it was not right to bring someone from outside the agency to head the regulatory body in an acting capacity.
“Operations are to remain shut down until a better explanation comes from the requisite authorities,” he said.
A senior official of the agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, gave further explanations on what prompted the operational shut down of the PPPRA on Tuesday during an interview with our correspondent.
He said, “The office is shut down for now because of the appointment of another acting executive secretary. You know the former ES, Farouk Ahmed, left last Thursday and handed over to the most senior officer in the agency, Mr. Mbaba.
“But surprisingly yesterday being Monday they brought another person while Mbaba was away in Lagos on official assignment. So the union rejected it on the grounds that there was already an acting ES. Their agitation was that how can there be an acting ES on Thursday/Friday and another one on Monday?
“And they also argued that why is it that they are bringing somebody from outside the PPPRA to function in acting capacity, not a substantive ES? So these are the major thrust of the protest which led to the shutdown of our operational activities, both at the head office and at the zonal offices all over the country.”
When asked who appointed the acting executive secretary, the official said, “She must have come from the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources or the minister. But whoever it is that may have appointed her, the fact is that she can’t come from outside to act as ES of the PPPRA.”
The spokesperson for the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr. Kingsley Agha, did not answer calls to his phone when our correspondent tried contacting him for the ministry’s position on the issue. A text message sent to him was neither replied.