Comrade Razaq Obe is the current chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, branch. In this exclusive interview with the publisher and editor-in-chief of Radar Newspaper, Otuekong Franklyn Isong, he spoke his mind on a number of issues including the Spy Police/MPN conflicts, the role of PENGASSAN and that of other individuals like the Vice Chairman of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Mr. Udom Inoyo. Enjoy reading:
Radar: Sunday and Good Evening Sir.
Razaq: Good Evening, Thank you!
Radar: Can you please tell us your name and what you do?
Razaq: My name is Comrade Razaq Obe. I work for ExxonMobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited. I am currently the chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in the company, leading over a thousand colleagues and I have been doing this for the past two years. In my daily job, I work in the Procurement Department of the company, although, my background is petroleum engineering. All together I’ve been in the company for 11 years and I have spent 10 of those years in Eket, Akwa Ibom State. That is my second home. I am from Ondo State.
Radar: I love to ask a few questions with regards to ExxonMobil’s activities but, first of, what is the duty of PENGASSAN in ExxonMobil?
Razaq: PENGASSAN is the body of labour union in ExxonMobil. From the beginning of time, there has been this balance of forces or call it dynamic equilibrium between management of firms and the labour force. In any company where that does not exist, you have absolute power and management does whatever she pleases to the workers. So the role of the union is to actually serve as a counter-balance to the power of management so that, management does not do things that does not reflective of the aspirations of the people doing the work right here. Because ExxonMobil as an organisation puts people at the top of its pyramid, people first and other considerations follow. So PENGASSAN is the mouthpiece of the people. What the people want; what they think is right or wrong; whatever it is, including collective bargaining; where reward, payments and all of those stuffs are negotiated and agreed PANGASSAN is involved. When the company does anything that is not right, PENGASSAN is the organisation that steps in for the workers. So we can call ourselves the parliament of the workers in ExxonMobil.
Radar: Well said. I want to also know, who are your members?
Razaq: Our members are all senior staff of the company. We have classification level 17 to 25. That is the rank for PENGASSAN members. If you are above 25, you have become a management staff and you cannot be unionised. They are called non-reps. Then people who are below rank 17,which I don’t think exist right now in the company, those are NUPENG members. But currently, I doubt if Mobil still have anyone as a NUPENG member.
Radar: What is the working relationship between the Company and PENGASSAN?
Razaq: The relationship between any management and the union is always the most complex relationship one can ever imagine. But here, it has to be salubrious, at the same time, there must not be too much romance between the duo. They must not actually hold sword against each other. That’s why I called it salubrious. So that let us breadth and let the workforce have an ambience where people can breadth freely. There must be freedom but, not too much freedom. As I said, it’s a delicate equilibrium. We must be governed by what is obtained in the industry. We have to do everything right and work towards having harmonious relationship. Sometimes temperature may rise, things may go sour, we keep working toward that goal of having a peaceful realm. But more often than not, we have time when the temperature rises and we still manage to come together from time to time.
Radar: Does PENGASSAN – your union, influences your Company’s policies and operations in anyway?
Razaq: Sure! We do. Because in collective bargaining agreement, we say that anything management want to do that will impact on the welfare of the people and workers, PENGASSAN must be informed and the modus of doing that thing must be agreed upon with the union. We have a say as our slogan, “No Surprises.”
For example, we can’t just wake up and we learn that the Company is moving from Eket to Uyo. Who did you discuss that with? Management knows they have to inform the union. By so doing, we influence a lot of things they are doing. They propose the general idea of what they have in mind and we begin to see the pros and cons. If there is opportunity for improvement; we suggest that improvement. Management often goes forth to adapt to that improvement and we reach a kind of alignment before we implement such a policy.
Radar: As the chairman of PENGASSAN, you are in the right position to answer this question: What role does PENGASSAN play in employees’ recruitment in Mobil?
Razaq: The answer is that our role is tangential. We don’t have any active role. When an opening is noted, the department that needs the workers will raise a proposition to the Human Resource (HR), the HR will help them steward the process. Actually it is that department that will eventually select someone. HR’s job is to steward the process. But at the end of the day, you have a team of interviewers and processes laid down in place are followed. The role of PENGASSAN may be that if in a department you have three people working and you need to have five people working there, we may say ‘you need to employ people to work here, we don’t have the right number of workers here.’ That is why I called our role, ‘tangential.’ So if management sees that need, they go ahead to do the employment. But as for the process itself, PENGASSAN has no role to play.
Radar: Talking about Human Resource, please can you break down to the understanding of people are there. What is the recruitment process of ExxonMobil and who do you refer to as the HR?
Razaq: HR (Human Resource) has a recruitment team. That team is the team that response to propositions from departments. That team has people who do the advertisement, they have another organisation that outsources, that will conduct test for the people, people who pass the test are the people who come to participate in the interviews.
At the interviews, they will have HR representatives, and the departments that want the employees will have their own representatives to see that persons coming in have got the qualities and requirements they desire. So that role is collaboration amongst various departments. Many considerations, but I can assure you that the first consideration is excellence. Is the person coming in with the competence to do the job? The process of testing them by writing test is going to sieve those who have no business working in the company out.
Then other layers. We have something they call, “behavioral interview.” It tries to test your past to see what you have done before, just to understand who you are. So that is the processes. As they are doing that, there are various people who are marking the tests. Then you are sitting before a panel of 5 or 6 people, so each person is marking you independently and at the end of the day, the totality of those decisions will form their final decision. So if you have ten to twenty people, at the end of the day, serially taken, there will be number 1, 2, 3 down to 20.
Radar: The next question is, is there no one individual in your Company that can on his own employ someone, merit or no merit?
Razaq: My response to that is, ExxonMobil is not Razaq & Sons Limited. It’s not Ministry, it’s not like our country where you can maneuver the employment processes and get away with it. There is no single individual, not even the Managing Director of the company, not even the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) can bend the employment’s policy of ExxonMobil. Because it’s scandalous. If you violate the employment’s policy and you make it opaque, even if you are the MD or any senior person in the company, the person is going to be fired! The best you can do for anyone you so have interest in, is to let the person know that there is an opportunity in ExxonMobil. You can guide the person to prepare for the test and interviews. As I have told you, they are done serially. You want to bring someone that is number 12 to come and take the job over and above the serial number? No! No matter who you are, no matter your tribe, if you like, let your father be the President, you can’t. Because whatever they do, is going to be reviewed by auditors. There are internal auditors from ExxonMobil; there are also external auditors, they are going to look at that document and we also have NNPC auditors. So you can see layers of reviews, who wants to lose his job, because you are trying to help someone else to get a job? Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a staff here. I am from faraway Ondo State. I knew no one, I saw an advertisement of ExxonMobil sometime in 2007, I stayed in the convenience of my room at Lagos and applied. I was working for Globacom then. I saw invitation for test; I went to write the test. From there to the first interview, from there second interview. I knew no one and I got the job. If they were to use influence or power, I wouldn’t stand any chance. It would have been the exclusive preserve of Governors, Ministers, Senators and powerful people in the society.
Radar: You mean even your MD and board vice chairman cannot actually influence the employment process in favour of their candidate?
Razaq: (Cuts in)they can’t even try it. They wouldn’t themselves imagine it. Because if they do, it is an open secret that is going to hurt them. You can’t do it and people would not know. How do you do it without sending someone? Oh! You are going to send an email to someone. By sending that email, you have already violated one of the key values of the company and the repercussion of that is separation. You yourself trying to do that, you will be sent out of the company so no one does that. No body!
Radar: ExxonMobil operates in Akwa Ibom State, are you saying that even the Board vice chairman, himself an indigene of Akwa Ibom State cannot say to ExxonMobil ‘please employ Akwa Ibom indigenes’ and go ahead to submit names of his candidates for employment where necessary in Exxon Mobil?
Razaq: He would not give names, what he can do which I believe, you know when you say Exxon Mobil employment, you see a lot of people from Akwa Ibom state, the company has looked at where they work. I believe they have allotted a quota to Akwa Ibom state. Perhaps, let’s say if you have 20 people coming to work now, the system, in contracting we can say, this job is exclusively for Akwa Ibom state. In fact in my Department, we have something like that. All these infrastructure maintenance, if you are not from Akwa Ibom state, you have no relevance. It has to be for Akwa Ibom State people. You do not come from Ondo or Kano to come and be doing ambience maintenance in Eket when we have Eket people there. So in employment, I am just speculating that what I think is right and you see the population of Akwa Ibom people we know that, the participation is high. Maybe there are more awareness. If you advertise Mobil advertisement now, there is no household in Akwa Ibom that will not know because there are so many people there. The rest of the country may not know, but when you see the employment level, you will know that a lot of people actually come in from Akwa Ibom state; but how that is accomplished, I do not know. But when it comes to what they call quota, company does quota in contracting. I do not doubt that there has been the same in employment.
Radar: I want to know if the vice chairman of MPN cannot use his high office and the fact that he is from Akwa Ibom to influence things?
Razaq: If you say the vice chairman or any individual, it would be a Company’s decision. When you say company, we have a Board that board is about five, six, seven people. You have what they call the PM team, that is the management team, so when a discussion like this comes up, it is coming up at that realm. Mind you, the MD of the company and the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, they also keep engaging, there is no MD of ExxonMobil, who is not close to the Governor of Akwa Ibom. They must know what is going on in the State. The Governor should be able to talk to anyone about some things in ExxonMobil. If you are talking about employment, remember companies like Chevron, I remember when a former governor of our State (Ondo) met Chevron and said they should employ people from Ondo State. They had to create a special job advert and they said only Ondo state people should apply. So, imagine the TTC in Eket, a lot of participation for Akwa Ibom State people. One I can’t say for sure, speculation is not part of it, if any individual would take that decision. But I think as a Company, there is a desire to have more participation with people from the operational environment, Akwa Ibom State, Bonny and some other places.
RADAR: You just addressed the other issue I wanted to actually ask, talking about the question of if your Company have quotas for host communities. That has been taken care of by what you just said. There is this question I would love to ask you which I believe everybody would love to hear from you being the chairman of PENGASSAN. How is the employees’ management process, talking about the disciplinary process? Who decides what happens? Does the union has any role to play in this regard?
Razaq: Of course, yes! When you accuse anyone of any wrongdoing, the union has the right to send one or two representatives to the disciplinary panel that will sit over the matter. We have a right also to prepare that person who is to face the panel on how to answer questions. We already have a team in our branch. We have the people who are already schooled on how to help people who are answering questions. So you go there and present the matter. The word here is full disclosure. Everyone knows the rules of the company. You know the rules. You know the regulations; of course, you know the policies. As an adult you are not expected to violate the rules, but there are many things, as borderlines that you think the person has violated, but the person has not. Or you put the rules in place without putting some considerations and you are doing it from another side all together. So what the union does, is to look at any allegation and build their case. I can assure you, one hundred percent of the situations when our member has not committed a crime, nobody sends them away. It would be impossible, we have looked at the merit of the case, but there are some situations, where some people have quit on. I remember one of the cases, sometimes early 2018, or there about, when one of our persons was to be sacked. There was equipment supply to procurement. The kind of equipment supplied was different from the one submitted. When they say the guy was to go I said no. It was not going to happen! Mr. Udom Inoyo was then the director of Human Resources. He did what he said he had never done before. He said to me, “chairman, we don’t do this, but in this occasion, come and see the fact for yourself.” And he asked the person in-charge of the disciplinary process to present the facts to me. Actually, I went there and saw the facts myself. As I was reading through the facts including the email sent by this accused person himself which he did not disclose to the union.
For instance, they said, “this equipment you said you have supplied, snap it and send to us.” You went and snap another equipment that had been installed for more than ten years ago, you sent it to the auditor. The auditor came to him three months later and said “are you sure that this is the picture, because the serial numbers are not matching, are you sure?” That guy kept pestering him: “please reply me under one week; please reply me in three days; please if you don’t reply me today, I am going to submit this report that you send me this.” He stuck to that decision that that was the machine. Who would not know that what you are doing, does not make sense. Because that truth you are trying to hide, it does not take any scientific effort to understand it. All the auditor needs to do is to fly to QIT, go to the equipment and see it for himself. So it means your picture is fake. You snapped something else, what you claimed the equipment was, the equipment was not because, it was never delivered; so what do you expect the company to do? You now said you made a mistake that he was sending those pictures, by mistake. Okay, if it by mistake, it means he is not competent too to be on the job. So in case of that guy, when I saw it and I confronted the person and now said, “Oga, why did you not tell the union this happened” and he could not say anything again. “In this matter, by my personal assessment as a union leader, I believe you are deserving of this. You need to go, you were deliberately hiding the facts from the auditors; you were even hiding the facts from the union and you told the union to be fighting for you. So we would have been laid into an unnecessary uprising if not that we were shown enough facts.” So anyone who says; “he just did this,” and they just send the person out of the company, I would be surprised, if such a narrative holds water.
We have had instances where people make genuine mistakes, even though, obviously it is a policy violation, but they never meant to do it. It just happened circumstantially. One hundred percent of such cases, the company would say; “well, we have looked at it, they can give you warning letter, they can give you any other mild punishment. Just to let you know that yeah! You didn’t willfully violate the company’s policy.” But people who have willfully, deliberately done things you cannot defend, if the company should continue to habour such people, they would collapse the company in no time. You know the impact of that, for instance, to Akwa Ibom State government? This is a company that gave about N17 billion revenue to Akwa Ibom State in a particular month. If you remove Mobil operations from that, that figure would drop to about N3 billion or thereabout from national purse. So, if you do anything that hurts ExxonMobil in Akwa Ibom state, you are directly hurting everyone on the street of Akwa Ibom State. That is the implication because, that is where everything is coming from. So everyday company is working hard trying to get things done; Akwa Ibom community directly benefits from it. When I hear people saying “Mobil has not done this.” I now say well, ‘I like to hear more.’ Mobil is to do more, of course! It is a continuum, because the community deserves all of the good things you can imagine but, the fact is, the current operation of ExxonMobil, people on the streets should be sensitive to it, because they directly benefit and may God help the Governor to work more and may good leaders arise to optimise the resources when the oil is still flowing. The fact is just like Nile to Egypt. ExxonMobil is such a lifeline to Akwa Ibom State and what we currently are doing should be sustained and again, the game should be up for the people to benefit more.
Radar: Still on the employee – management relations. I would like to hear more about the issue of termination of appointment. How does it work? What is the process? Who makes the final decision?
Razaq: There are two types of termination. I just mentioned one, which is; when you commit an offence, that one, there is a standard disciplinary panel in place. That panel has people from various departments including the law department are in that panel and whatever decision they take especially, to terminate someone’s employment, they recommend to the leadership, that is, the Lead Country Manager (the MD) is the head of that final team that takes the final decision based on the facts placed before them. They have carried out investigations, gone through disciplinary processes, and the recommendation is now at the highest level (the MD), he makes the final call.
Another termination is; when a company is in crisis from the economic aspect, they need to bring the workforce number down. That decision is taken primarily by each unit of the company. All the departments will come with the entire decision of identifying who is going. That decision is taken at that level and so, there is no single person that determines who is sacked anywhere, or everywhere. Each departmental manager will determine who he can let go or otherwise. In the 2016 issue, we had departments which even said no! They set the criteria primarily and match employees with those criteria. And those people who fall into that threshold were affected. That doesn’t mean we are clapping for anything that looks like termination. You will know from that 2016 experience that it is now, that we are recovering little by little from it, because many people were affected. Union Members, 83 of them were affected and we are yet to recover fully from the thing because, we fought back and then company made the mistake. They should not have gone that wrought and the good thing is later we realised that the MD of that time was the one who took that decision and the man was sacked eventually. He took that decision even against the advice of the Human Resources. Human Resources in the person of Mr. Udom Inoyo, then had said to the former MD, “do not go ahead and do this until, you have agreed with the union.”
Mr. Inoyo’s advice was that, “if you want to do redundancy, even though, the redundancy process is in place, they should be discussed,” and why that was that bad was because, they made it involuntary. For redundancy normally, you need to make it voluntary. A lot of people will collect the money and leave but, that was the first time they said, it was not voluntary but, you have to go! And the HR advised them that they should have agreed with the union but the MD refused to listen to the HR and that is what led to the crisis in the company with the union. These are the facts out there, but we are navigating it now to put that behind us because, so much is being done to heal the wound after that situation and the healing process is still ongoing.
Radar: I was trying to lay a foundation towards asking you about the Spy Police/MPN crisis, as the chairman of PENGASAN in MPN branch, please can you tell us the full story of the matter?
Razaq: Spy Police matter is one of the biggest test in the history of ExxonMobil Nigeria. It is the biggest test for unionism, and how it ended is something that should continue to draw applauds to the union and management. Only that people cannot be satisfied. Let me tell you some of this. The recruitment of these people – the so called employment, let facts not be distorted. It is true that Mobil wanted to employ security people.
The purpose of that recruitment was not to become ExxonMobil employees, they needed security but, they didn’t get the process right, which the people affected, of course, lacked time and let me tell you, the last on it because, they were maltreated. They brought them in, gave them some good benefits. Some funny people at a time started advising that they should withdraw those things.
Issues of medical, they were enjoying medical facilities free; they were going to medical clinic. Suddenly, they (MPN) stopped all of those, they kept isolating them; they kept pushing them back, to the point that they totally excluded them from the mainstream activities of the company. And that is why people started saying ‘why this ill-treatment, we are working in Mobil? Why are they taking all these benefits away? So about 4 – 8 of the people employed were actually given employment letter on Mobil Logo, while the rest did not have such letter. Police sent many of them in, they thwarted the process. It was a messed up process. The fact is, since whatever the intentions were, since Mobil did not get the process right, and they jumped into the recruitment process, and took the place of the Police as the case maybe, and they went through it without thinking it through, the people did it a long time ago. This is a case that was in court for about 22 years, so they left a long time ago. When one begins to blame, the people who are here right now, is like people are ill-informed. So, when the matter now happened that Supreme Court said they were Mobil employees, complication came in. They were not my members as PENGASSAN, like I told you, my members are senior staff of the company but, I saw that they were like a cow whose tail had been cut off. Nobody to fight for them. After they got that Supreme Court judgment, of course, Mr. Femi Falana, their lawyer is close mentor to me. I have been talking to him, discussing about how will this matter end, when he told me that Mobil was not talking to him since the judgment was obtained on the 20th April, 2018, and that time was around June or there about. I now said, “this was outrageous, they (MPN) should be sitting down with you and discuss on how to compute their entitlements and to reach a landing because, the judgment to the best of my knowledge, was one of the worst judgment you can obtain.” A judgment you obtained that did not put cash on it, just said you are employees?
When you say someone is my employee, you have given the person to me as a commodity, I can do whatever I please with him; I can fire him in the morning. The moment you say he is my employee, I can sack him that same moment, all I need to do is to pay him his one month salary in lieu, which is the law.
There is no law that says somebody or employee must continue to be your employee, no, no, no! You can do lawful termination. You can do all other things to your employee, and give reasons why you terminate his appointment. You can say the person stole, while the person didn’t steal. Unless the person can prove that it was a wrong termination. But you cannot terminate someone’s appointment without giving any reason; “I no want you again, please go home” and the only thing you owe the person is payment of one month salary in lieu of notice, that is, the labour law as it is today. But in this case, we took it up after the company took a decision. That decision was taken by our law department. It is the law department that advises the company wherever you are, you must observe whatever they put in place, you must follow it. So, when they advise that the best way to navigate when a union disagreed with, is to let those people go. I said “why not bring them in? Why not negotiate their pay? Why not think about the legacy, whatever you could give them?” It was a big fight you must have read in the newspapers that time. A battle that lasted for nearly 8 weeks, it was one of the biggest battles that lasted for 8 weeks. I led the efforts.
At the end of the day, escalation process ensued. If they were alone, they won’t have even had a union because you cannot even negotiate without a union. If you are not a union you can’t even escalate a matter to the ministry of labour. Labour law does not recognise you because, they had no union. We saw that they were vulnerable. We said this is our people, they are Nigerians, we can’t claim we have a union inside and this kind of injustice is meted out to a people, right here, in our company.
When I started that battle, not many people believed that you could fight within PENGASSAN. It took me time to even convince the national leadership of PENGASSAN to give me the kind of support we had. Because we were so angry, we had to launch out to other avenues to get that, to enable us fight for these people and we did. To escalate this matter, we needed to pick some of their (Spy Police) representatives, we had a lot of infighting here and there, we had to harmonise them, we had to select some 8 or 10 of their (Spy Police) leaders, we went to ministry of labour, a lot of problems, their (Spy Police) salary that time, the last person, a Corporal in their rank was earning about N110, 000 or N109,000, and the highest person Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) was earning about N210,000 or N213,000. Those were their pay ranges. You can see the judgment is really interesting. Even though they are your employees, that does not mean I can’t determine what you should pay them. In the classification levels, if you want to insist that they were employees of MPN, where do you put them? Company is the one that will determine, for example, you are my employee, this is your grade level! It is a complex judgment.
Company said, they couldn’t or didn’t have the wherewithal to take care of them. Some of these guys didn’t have school set. They were hired a long time ago. I am not denigrating them. They are fantastic people, amazing people amongst them. We also had people that are optimistic that they will get there, how ungrateful some turned! However, you cannot hire them, pay them handsomely as they are going.
As at the time company separated them, the average pay was N1,300,000 or N1,200,000 cash and another N1,000,000; N1,200,000 in their pension. The total payment range for them was like between N2,500,000, N3,000,000 to N4,000,000 or N5,000,000 Maximum. We (PENGASSAN) stepped in, logged down with their claims, company was logged down in all locations. Exxon Mobil Nigeria had never ever seen such before. A kind of protest that you are dealing with people, the level of control you have over them is limited because, many of them are not educated. Some were violent, at Mobil Houses, people were just putting their clothes on the fence of Mobil House. You needed to see, it was horrible. At the centre of this, I was there. I was the person that management would interfaced with, Government, Ministry of Labour would interfaced with, the Commissioners of Police would interfaced with. Their Lawyer would interfaced with. From their side, they had their leaders. Every individual among a population of over 500 people, they had my number, all of them were calling me, including their wives, and children. It was one of the worst times anyone could have. And you must take those calls because you don’t know the importance of each of the calls. I was taking those calls. To even allow some supplies to enter, so that people would be able to eat, it was war! It was a complex situation. We navigated it through.
At the end of the day we said to MPN, “these people you exit, you would give them better settlements. We now started negotiations. We used PENGASSAN Exit Formula, which is, “for every year you serve, we give you times two of your salary for that year, to the maximum of 36 months,” which means somebody who had worked for 20years, for instance, will get his two months salaries for each year, for 20 years, that is the PENGASSAN exit formula. There is one we call “ex gratia,” that is, one month salary. There is what we call, “Settling Allowance,” about two month’s salary. Then we were computing another thing we call, “Legacy Compensation of N250,000.00 for each year they had served.” When we were done with these, the lowest people who were Corporals amongst the Spy Police, the cash that they exited with was about N14,500,000.00 (fourteen million, five hundred thousand). The ones who were Sergeants exited with about N18, 000,000 to N20,000,000; the ASPs went home with about N26,000,000 or N27,000,000.
I am telling you all these, because you may not want to believe me. A commissioner of Police of the State, who had worked all his life, told me how many of them (commissioners of police) are leaving the Force with N26,000,000 exit plan. Or are you a Divisional Police Officer (DPO)? Who are you to come close to having that kind of cash in the Nigerian Police Force legally speaking? We went ahead, and said that, the money I just called now, I just called the Net, cash they received, if you put their Pension on it that someone that got N14 point something million naira, the Pension took his pay to over N18m due to the major components. Somebody who got N27 million an ASP, the Pension took his pay to N35 million that was what he got. At the end of the day, the money to settle them jumped from just about N2 billion plan initially to over N18 billion.
The current Board vice chairman of MPN, Mr. Udom Inoyo, who was then the Human Resources Director, what didn’t he do throughout the negotiation processes to ensure that the Spy Police personnel went home with better packages? Mr. Udom Inoyo is a good man. Only God will reward him. He was on the side of the Spy Police from the beginning of the matter to the end as against standing with the management. He went out of his way to ensure that the people were better taken care off. Mr. Inoyo was on the side of PENGASSAN and the Spy Police, because he felt their pulses as a Nigerian. Inoyo did everything humanly possible for them. Most of these things were done behind their back. He need not come out openly to start telling them what he was doing in their favour. But as the person who was in the front of the battle, I can tell you the role of each and every person in the matter. I don’t think the Spy Police even know the battle that PENGASSAN fought to get that legacy compensation for them? This money, majority of the people were very grateful, I mean, there was no way some people didn’t use it as lifeline. Some people said they want to pay their 10% of their money to me, because people cold reason amongst themselves, “how many years would you work as a staff police in Mobil to make N5 million as your own cash, coming ones and other money is coming, pension is coming in and you are getting as much as 50 million the same time.” If you do what I call “Resources Husbandry” properly, you will never be poor again; you will be better off, if you like any other position you would want to work but, do you know the problem? By that judgment, as some of them who are not that informed let me use the word. They thought since they are Mobil employees meant they became like me (Razaq Obe) over night and that means, all benefits that Mobil employees have been receiving since 19 whatever, they should pay them. To some of them, they said they will receive N1 billion, some said N1.2 billion, some said N800 million. They came with all those at the back of their minds. Some comedians helped them to compute this figures, they themselves could not explain it, some would say “oil spillage of 1982, the compensation for it,” they brought all manner of funny things. I said, “Hello, we are not acting a drama here. Let’s be educated about this, if you don’t know what the Supreme Court judgment means, some of you who said, let’s go and interpret this,” many of them; the average age of those people will be like 50 years, okay! You want to prove this further, another 20 years, you want to go to court for interpretation, then you would have died and nobody will even be able to claim your money. It doesn’t make sense.
Some of them, for some reasons were sacked ahead of the crisis, about four of them, a case of the four and maybe a case of the eleven. We negotiated for them, they were also paid as if they were working too. But, some of them, we have some trouble makers amongst those, who still insisted they must go to court. As I talk to you, some of them are back in court. These guys who are back in court, some of them are 65 years. They are pursuing a case that I don’t know, is a case as I am sure, this sun is going to come forth in the morning tomorrow. There is nowhere that case will go, that the judges won’t just look at you and just ask rhetorically; “What are you talking about, are we the ones to determine your own salaries?” You went all the way to Ministry of Labour, the body that by law should interpret any labour dispute. You reached an agreement there, and some of you sat at the meeting and agreed, you came back, and said “you are no longer in agreement.” If you are not happy the next thing to do, you go to Industrial Arbitration Panel from there to the National Industrial Court.
To be continued!