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NOGASA Threatens to Halt Petroleum Supplies to Akwa Ibom Over Alleged Extortion

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The National Oil and Gas Suppliers Association (NOGASA) has threatened to cease supplying petroleum products to Akwa Ibom State, citing alleged extortion by the Petroleum Tankers Drivers (PTD) branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).

In a press conference held in Uyo, the state chairman of NOGASA, Comrade Sam Osung, revealed that PTD members have been impounding NOGASA trucks and demanding N50,000 in levies from its members within the state. He warned that Akwa Ibom might soon face severe fuel scarcity if the state government and other stakeholders do not intervene to halt these unethical practices.

“It will interest you to know that there are different marketers in the downstream sector such as Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, and related Associations such as Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria,” Osung said.

He highlighted that NOGASA members supply a wide range of industrial hydrocarbons, including Aviation Turbine Kerosene, Marine Diesel Oil, Marine Gas Oil, Naphtha, Automotive Gas Oil, Dual Purpose Kerosene, Petrochemical Oil (black oil), Bitumen, Blue Oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, Compressed Natural Gas, Crude Oil, and Premium Motor Spirit. These products are supplied to factories, industries, telecommunication companies, construction firms, oil companies, and other major end-users across the country.

Osung expressed confusion and frustration over the unique challenges faced in Akwa Ibom, stating, “We buy from depots and pay all trip levies, including that of the PTD branch of NUPENG, across all depots in Nigeria. It is strange having PTD branch of NUPENG impound our trucks in Akwa Ibom and demanding N50,000 from us. This is not happening in any other state in the country except Akwa Ibom.”

He further explained that this extortion happens daily, with products being impounded along the East-West Road in Ikot Abasi and Calabar Itu Road. “Yesterday alone, we had a complaint from seven suppliers whose products even had to be kept on the road till the next day,” Osung lamented.

Recalling a meeting held on April 23, 2024, Osung noted that Governor Umo Eno had convened with selected stakeholders to resolve the crisis between NOGASA and other parties in the downstream sector. During this meeting, the governor advised all groups to pause their activities while a committee was set up to investigate the root causes of the artificially created fuel scarcity, product hoarding, and price hikes resulting from retail outlet closures in Akwa Ibom.

“NOGASA had since adhered to the resolve of the meeting with His Excellency the Governor. The prompt intervention of the government and security agencies is crucial as this may have far-reaching consequences,” Osung stated.

He warned that the suppliers are seriously considering cutting off supplies to Akwa Ibom, which would affect telecommunication companies, construction firms, factories, and industries. “The public should know who to hold responsible if there is any event that will inconvenience product supply in Akwa Ibom,” he concluded.

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Crime

Akwa Ibom NMA Chairman and Vice Chairman Impeached Amid Allegations of Misconduct

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In a dramatic turn of events, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) Akwa Ibom State chapter has impeached its Chairman, Prof. Emem Abraham, and Vice Chairman, Dr. Aniekan Utuk, following allegations of gross misconduct, high-handedness, and misappropriation of funds.

The impeachment took place during an Ordinary General Congress held on Wednesday at the NMA Secretariat, Kilometer 8, Nwaniba Road, Uyo.

The impeachment motion, supported by 71 members present at the Congress, marks the end of Prof. Abraham’s administration, which began on July 16, 2022, and was due to conclude on July 17, 2024. Following the impeachment, Dr. Usenobong Morgan Akpan, the Association’s Secretary, was elected as the Acting Chairman, with a vote of 61 in favor and 13 against.

During a press briefing at the Doctor’s Mess, Udo Udoma Avenue, Dr. Akpan outlined the reasons for the impeachment, citing financial mismanagement and procedural breaches. “The embattled Chairman and her vice were impeached for running the NMA Akwa Ibom State for five months without a budget while expending millions of naira, and presenting to the State Executive Council a financial statement for a free medical outreach accounting for only N6 million out of N34 million questioned,” Akpan explained.

Additional grounds for impeachment included breaches of the NMA National Constitution and Akwa Ibom State Bye-laws, unauthorized ejection of members from the association’s WhatsApp group, and high-handedness. Dr. Akpan called for the immediate withdrawal of privileges and recognitions previously accorded to the impeached officials.

“As the Secretary of the NMA, I was made the Acting Chairman by virtue of hierarchy; with the Chairman and Vice Chairman being impeached, I am next in line. We request that all forms of recognition and privileges accrued to the suspended persons be withdrawn,” Akpan stated.

In a counter-statement, Prof. Emem Abraham declared the impeachment null and void, insisting she remains the Chairman of the NMA Akwa Ibom State chapter. She accused Dr. Akpan of acting unilaterally and stated that the association’s ordinary general meeting (OGM) on June 2, 2024, was disrupted and recessed for security reasons, with no impeachment process initiated.

Prof. Abraham emphasized, “There was no impeachment process against me or any officer of the Association. The NMA AKS is intact, and I remain in charge as the Chairman.”

The Public Relations Officer of NMA, Dr. Unyime Ndoh, echoed this sentiment, urging members to disregard the impeachment claims and stating that the OGM would reconvene soon.

Further investigations revealed that the crisis in the NMA Akwa Ibom chapter intensified after the kidnapping of Dr. John Robbin Esu in Oron local government area on April 30, 2024. Following a 15-day ordeal, Prof. Abraham called for a strike to expedite Dr. Esu’s release, which led to internal conflict and the eventual impeachment.

The unfolding situation highlights deep divisions within the NMA Akwa Ibom chapter and raises questions about leadership and governance within the association.

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Workers Protest at Federal Polytechnic Ukana Over Salary, Welfare Issues

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Workers at the Federal Polytechnic Ukana have launched a protest following a brief congress meeting at the institution’s TETFund auditorium.

The protesters voiced their dissatisfaction with the management’s handling of their demands, which include the non-payment of the 38% balance of salary shortfall, non-payment of promotion arrears, and the forceful conversion of staff.

Emerging from the congress, the protesters marched to the Rector’s office, holding placards and chanting solidarity songs while demanding the full implementation of their demands. Placards bore inscriptions such as, “SSANIP says no to unnecessary transfer of members,” “No to forceful conversion of staffs,” “Pay us our 38% balance salary shortfall (2016–2018),” and “Pay us our correct salary placement arrears (2015-2018).”

Mr. Tamunosiki Daka, chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Polytechnics (SSANIP) at the Federal Polytechnic Ukana, addressed the protesters, emphasizing that their actions were not confrontational but a plea for their welfare.

“We are not here to fight anyone; we are here to demand our rightful dues,” Daka stated. He expressed disappointment over the management’s indifference to their issues, including salary shortfalls dating back to 2015, despite numerous reminders.

Daka elaborated, “Over the years, from 2015 to date, we have been crying for salary shortfalls. When the visitation panel came, they promised to address it, but nothing has happened. We have met the management, but they did not provide any substantial reason for us not to go on strike. We wrote to the acting Rector, but she did not attend to us. The current Rector, Dr. Uduak Ndaeyo, attended to us, but still, no concrete answer was given.”

Highlighting the union’s procedural adherence, Daka noted, “We issued the necessary ultimatums—21 days, 14 days, and 7 days—before embarking on industrial action. Despite our pleas for the past six months, no action has been taken.”

Daka also criticized the appointment of a teaching staff member to the position of ICT, questioning its appropriateness. He announced that the workers would shut down all offices, including the Rector’s, if their demands were not met by Monday.

In a broader appeal, Daka called on President Bola Tinubu to investigate the personnel salaries of the institution from 2015 to the present, questioning the claims of full payment under the IPPIS platform.

“We urge the President to investigate all personnel salaries from 2015 to date. They claim they paid all shortfalls, but we have seen nothing,” Daka added.

The protest highlights ongoing frustrations and calls for accountability and prompt action to address the workers’ grievances.

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Ibom Air Celebrates 5th Anniversary, Announces Ambitious Future Plans

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Ibom Air, the Akwa Ibom State-owned airline, marked its 5th anniversary on May 7, 2024, celebrating a significant milestone in its mission to provide reliable and exceptional air travel services across Africa.

Since commencing commercial operations on June 7, 2019, Ibom Air has demonstrated a strong commitment to world-class operational standards, gaining the confidence and loyalty of passengers throughout the region. The airline’s remarkable growth includes expanding its fleet, increasing its route network, and enhancing the overall customer experience. Notably, Ibom Air has maintained industry-leading on-time performance, a hallmark of its operations.

Reflecting on the airline’s achievements, Chief Executive Officer Mfon Udom expressed pride in their journey. “We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished over the past five years. Our success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our entire team and the unwavering patronage of our passengers,” Udom stated. He also extended congratulations to the shareholders, the government, and the people of Akwa Ibom State for their committed ownership and strong support from the start, which have been instrumental in the airline’s focus on excellence in connecting people and places.

In celebration of its anniversary, Ibom Air unveiled ambitious plans for the future, including positioning itself as an ESG-responsible company with a clear sustainability vision. The airline plans rapid fleet and route expansion to tackle connectivity issues within the African region, alongside a focus on leveraging advanced technology.

Chief Operating Officer George Uriesi highlighted recent technological advancements aimed at improving customer experience. “We have recently unveiled cutting-edge technology and infrastructure to improve our booking, check-in, and in-flight services while enhancing our self-service portal on the website to make it more user-friendly. Similar attention will be paid to one of our most critical touchpoints: our call centre. We plan to make it a 24-hour service very shortly,” Uriesi commented.

In the area of sustainability, Ibom Air is committed to reducing its environmental impact through sustainable practices. The airline introduced the fuel-efficient Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with an expected fleet of 11 aircraft to ensure its carbon footprint aligns with global best practices. Additionally, the airline’s corporate social responsibility program will focus on giving back to the less privileged and vulnerable, positively impacting its communities.

To further commemorate this milestone, Ibom Air will recognize staff who have been with the airline since its inception, celebrating their dedication and contribution to the airline’s success.

“At Ibom Air, today and every day, we appreciate our customers who have stayed with us and have been unwavering in their commitment to building this brand. As a result, we pledge to continue to uphold the highest standards of safety, comfort, and convenience for our passengers,” affirmed Uriesi.

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