Refinery workers in Nigeria under the Buhari administration that has always been quick to threaten striking workers with ‘No Work, No Pay’ rule, were paid a total of N69.07billion in 2020 for doing nothing.
The plants generated zero revenue since they did not process a single barrel of crude oil. Reportedly, the refineries suffered a combined loss of N108.29 billion last year, compared to N162.22 billion in the previous year.
Data collated from their audited financial statements released by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) gave out the facts.
University teachers, judiciary workers, and medical doctors have been threatened by the no work, no pay rule. Health Minister, Osagie Ehanire, while appealing to doctors to return to work said, the no work, no pay rule is not a punitive measure against the striking doctors but an implementation of the provisions of law.
According to him, embarking on an industrial action in the middle of an outbreak is “unconscionable’’, adding, “we have said openly that this is not a good time for doctors to go on strike. We are having a strike for the third time this year; that is not good.
“Every country who has a difficult situation at this time should understand that responsibility is on all of us. If you have any problem, any grudges, let’s talk about it. I think Nigeria is probably the only country in the world today where doctors are dropping work in the middle of a threat to the whole country.”
‘No Work, No Pay’
On the ‘no work, no pay’ policy of the Buhari administration, the minister said; “that is the standard thing.International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommends that if you didn’t work, then why will you take your salary that comes from taxpayers’ money.
“Because if that is so, you can’t be encouraged to stay home for six months and your salary is running from public funds, from taxpayers’ money, or you have not given the community any service’’, noting that the administration has not threatened the doctors but “you do not put people’s lives at risk. That is what the minister of labour is saying. Nobody has threatened anybody with anything.”
Labour and Employment Minister, Chris Ngige, earlier accused the striking doctors of taking the country for a ride, threatening also that they would be sacked by their various employers if the seven-day ultimatum he issued them to return to work expires.
The ultimatum expired on Monday without the doctors returning to work. While the doctors said the strike will continue until their demands are met, Ehanire said Abuja is not entirely responsible for meeting all the demands tabled by the striking doctors.
He said seven of the 12 demands listed are issues between the doctors and governments of some states. “Part of the problem we have is that some of the demands are with state governments, not the federal government. So if the state government has not paid some people a salary why go on a nationwide strike?
However, the refineries where oil workers were paid for not working, are located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri. The refineries have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day but have been in a state of disrepair for many years.
Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company reported a loss after tax of N55.77 billion last year; Port Harcourt Refining Company recorded N28.67 billion loss; and Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company posted a loss of N23.85 billion.
Salaries, wages and other fringe benefits paid to Kaduna refinery workers fell to N26.02 billion in 2020 from N34.52 billion in the previous year, the gross for that of Port Harcourt refinery stood at N22.55 billion, up from N18.62 billion a year earlier.
While that of Warri refinery dropped to N20.51billion last year from N30.86billion in 2019, Kaduna refinery clearly pointed out, “for the year 2020, the company did not earn any income through shutdown of the plants and the ongoing turnaround maintenance.”
Going by the financial statements, the company relies on short-term funding from NNPC to meet its obligations as and when due. “Although the funding arrangement is short term in nature, the directors, based on historical patterns and continued discussions, with the parent, believe that the funding will be available for at least the next one year”, it said.
On its part Port Harcourt refinery explained that the N28.674billion loss it incurred last year arose “principally from the inability of the company to refine single drop of crude in the year 2020 and other previous years in quantities and at rates above its break-even points, hence it was unable to earn enough revenue to cover its costs. However, the parent company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is committed to continuing to support the sustenance of its operations through adequate funding.”
It noted that the Buhari administration approved the sum of $1.5billion to rehabilitate the aging plants towards productive and profitable use, adding, “without doubt, if this plan is fully executed, the reoccurring losses will stop in the year 2023, which is the expected date of completing the phase one of the rehabilitation project.”
Continuing, it said NNPC provided N107.86 billion as of December 2020 to it under a funding arrangement that is interest-free, pointing out, “an amount of N448 billion is due from the company to the NNPC as at December 2020 and N361billion in year 2019 under this arrangement.”