The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has urged Gov. Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti to embrace dialogue to resolve the ongoing impasse between his administration and petroleum marketers in the state.
Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, the Chairman, South-West Chapter of the union gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday, in Lagos.
According to him, all the peaceful moves made by the union to put an end to the crisis, which has resulted in fuel scarcity in the state have been turned down by the Governor.
He recalled that trouble began in the state following a fire incident in a filling station in Ekiti in January, which affected residential buildings and annoyed the governor, who vowed to demolish some defaulting filling stations.
Korodo said the governor set up a committee over the matter, which made some progress, only for it to be dissolved and another set up.
He said there was, however, a disagreement, after the governor said he would chair the new committee, as the petroleum workers’ unions, dissatisfied with the arrangement, technically opted out.
Korodo said the problem between the petrol station owners in the state and the government later degenerated with the demolition of some filling stations on the allegation that they had infringed on some regulations.
He said that the problem between both parties, which had led to fuel crisis, especially in the last one month with the filling stations refusing to operate, had continued to linger.
According to him, this is in spite of the intervention of important personalities like Aare Afe Babalola and others.
The Chairman called on Federal Government to urgently intervene before the crisis degenerate further.
He regretted that most of the demolished filling stations were built by loans from banks.
In its reaction, the Ekiti State Government dismissed allegations that it was responsible for the difficulty in achieving early resolution of the problem.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Idowu Adelusi, said the oil marketers should rather be blamed.
According to him, it is the marketers in the state that embarked on strike so as to avoid obeying the new policies rolled out by government to regularise distribution and sale of petroleum products in the state.
Adelusi recalled that the crisis between the two sides began in January when a filling station in Ado-Ekiti went up in flames, destroying property worth million of naira.
The press secretary said it was as a result of the accident that the governor said no fuel station would henceforth be allowed to operate in residential areas, including those located near schools.
The Government, he said, also directed that for new fuel stations to get approval to operate, their papers must first be approved by the governor.
Adelusi said the government also said that those certified as normal must have modern fire prevention kits installed in their premises, in addition to functional borehole and comprehensive insurance.
He said the governor also insisted that petrol stations in the State must have comprehensive insurance as well as embrace other policies, such that anyone affected by
fire outbreak from a petrol station will be adequately compensated.
The press secretary said these did not go down well with some of the marketers, who preferred that things must be done the old way.
He, however, insisted that the safety of Ekiti and its people is more important than any economic and political gains.(NAN)