The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, South-West chapter, on Tuesday protested at the Lagos State House of Assembly Complex against the refusal of the government to pay N224m it allegedly owed the body.
The protesters, led by the Chairman of NUPENG, Tokunbo Korodo, laid siege to the road linking the Assembly Complex and the Governor’s Office.
Korodo said the union had been on the matter for the past one year, adding that the union had been facing embarrassment from Skye Bank due to its failure to pay back the loan it obtained to procure petroleum products supplied to the government.
He said, “We have been pushed to the wall and that is why we have come out to protest. We are giving the government seven days to pay our money, otherwise, all our services to Lagos State will be withdrawn.
“It is a big shame that we are still begging the state government after a year to pay its debt. This is an indication that whoever wants to transact business with any government should be very careful. Any supply to any government agency should be cash on delivery. If you don’t see your money, don’t deliver.”
He added that the union was demoralised by the huge debt and should not be blamed if it withdrew its services to the state after the expiration of the ultimatum.
Despite the heavy presence of security operatives, the NUPENG agitators held their grounds until they were addressed by the member representing Epe 1 Constituency, Segun Olulade, who received the group’s petition.
Olulade said lawmakers would act swiftly on the matter and get in touch with the union after 24 hours.
NUPENG had alleged that the government owed it N224m meant for the payment of diesel and kerosene it supplied to the government for execution of direct labour projects in Ojodu between October 2014 and May 2015.
Korodo had threatened that Lagosians would be subjected to fuel scarcity if the request was not acceded to by the government.
However, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, said the transaction took place between an independent marketer and the Lagos State Public Works Corporation during the last administration.
Ayorinde said the company wrote the government about the transaction, and got a reply that it wanted to investigate the claim.
He said, “The investigation proved that the claim by the company was fraudulent, but while investigation was still ongoing, the company went to NUPENG, and the association agreed to demonstrate on behalf of the company.
“Our position is that the Lagos State Government cannot be stampeded or blackmailed into making payments that have not been verified for which investigation is still ongoing.
“No amount of blackmail will stop the government from strictly following due process and the rule of law.”