Workers petition presidency over OGFZA’s threat on Onne Free Zone

by | November 29, 2017 12:00 am

Worried by the developments at the Onne Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone especially as regards the unfriendly activities of the management of Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) against the operator’s of Onne FTZ, workers under the aegis of Concerned Workers Forum have written a letter of complaint to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The letter, which was dated 27th November 2017 and signed by Austin Akoma on behalf of the group, a copy of which was sighted by BusinessDay, said that the activities of OGFZA is capable of bringing the jobs of over 10,000 Nigerians in Onne, to an end.

The letter reads: “At its peak, the zone was home to about 200 companies, providing jobs to over 24,000 Nigerians but these numbers have reduced to less than half due to economic recession and the unguarded utterances and ill-advised activities of OGFZA.     

“OGFZA was established by Oil and Gas Export Free Zone Act of 1996 to regulate Nigeria’s Oil and gas Free Zones and it started its operations in Onne as the pioneering oil and gas free zone in Nigeria, in 2001. Successive managements of OGFZA worked very hard to position the agency as the premier agency of government responsible for promoting, securing and sustaining investments in oil and gas,” the letter further reads.

The workers accused Umana Okon Umana, managing director of OGFZA, of running the authority contrary to rules, functions and visions of the agency. They said that Umana has turned OGFZA and the Onne free zone into a political battlefield.

According the letter, the imposition of frivolous charges by OGFZA on Onne is currently taking tolls on the Free Zone as some operators have dumped their free zone licenses with several others, who are employers of labour, getting set to exit the zone.

“OGFZA imposition of charges has been selective. For instance, the charged imposed on operators at the Onne and Warri Free Zones were not on other free zones in Nigeria, thereby, creating an uneven playing turf for investors,” the workers further alleged.   

The workers, therefore, called for the sack of Umana as the MD of OGFZA, who according to them has proven unfit to administer the visions of the authority or promote free zone operations.

“We believe that there are several other competent hands in and out OGFZA that will be suitable for running the affairs of the agency in a manner that would bring development in free zones by attracting investments and creating jobs in line with Federal Government economic diversification agenda.”