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PENGASSAN: Failed leadership and financial recklessness by Taofeek Ibrahim

There is a common saying most successful organizations are built on the foundation of visionary leadership. It must however be emphasized that leadership is not a title or position, rather it is exerting influence and not control over a certain group of people to achieve a defined and sustainable goal.

The dangers of recognizing leadership as a position is that it breeds individuals who wield power in an oppressive and abusive manner so much so that it eventually spirals out of control.

More often than not, the result reneges on all that the principles firm and inspired leadership upholds. Incidences of brazen disregard for set out laws, total negligence for the true well-being of others and an insensitivity to the local and global community. This is the reality that exists within the ranks of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) under the leadership of Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson.

Comrade Francis has found his holy grail and is clinging on in an unholy embrace till seemingly death do them part.

As the festive period draws near, Nigerians cringe in expectation of what has become a yearly routine. The customary threat to embark on a strike action by PENGASSAN looms large in what is now recognized as an arm twisting gimmick to facilitate personal enrichment and reassertion of a position of authority by the trade union leader in a bid to ensure he clings on to the power from which he derives his essence of living. Under the leadership of Francis Olabode Johnson and his deputy Frank Esanubi, PENGASSAN has reached new depths in its plunge towards oblivion..

Tales of gross mismanagement of funds pervade the air within the union while like a mother vessel who has arrived her final destination, corruption and gross mismanagement of funds has dropped its anchor at PENGASSAN. Financial accountability has become a ghost story in a grand scheme of financial recklessness and misappropriation of funds by Comrade Frank Olabode Johnson and his loyalists.

It is shocking to find out that PENGASSAN which is funded solely by dues from its members is neck deep in debts to banks and other financial institutions. What is more bewildering is that under the current economic clime where even profit making concerns are tightening up their belts, the leadership of the union has embarked on a spending spree. Over a period of six months, there have been three synergy workshops that have set the union back by a considerable amount in tens of millions.

A training symposium in Ghana cost N18million, when air tickets for attendants and other expenditure elements are captured, you are faced with a bill etching closer to N30million than away from it. Another training has been scheduled for Dubai in another white elephant project that will put a sizable hole in the association’s pockets.

What drives the nail into the heart deeper is the fact that some delegates to these training are not even PENGASSAN members. Also fresh from the grapevine is information of an adventure at the Le Meridan Hotel Uyo where the “meagre” sum of N20million departed the coffers of the Union as payment for a sightseeing excursion to explore the joys of Uyo and revel in its delights by Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson and his loyalists.

Prevailing times have affected a reasonable number of the association’s members as they have found themselves on the wrong end of job cuts necessitated by an economic downturn. In seeming disregard to the plight of its members, no initiatives have been implemented to ease the sufferings of these people and provide succor. Rather, funds have been used to cater for countless jamborees.

The total amount expended on training of a select few in exotic locations this year by the leadership of PENGASSAN will comfortably train all PENGASSAN branch chairmen and secretaries within the country with a lot to spare but alas the foreign trips have ensured lots of functional members have been disenfranchised as only loyalists to the charade led by Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson are beneficiaries of his “all inclusive’’ reign as president of PENGASSAN

While there is a clear difference between enlightenment and education, there is a clear case of the lack of both where Comrade FOJ as he is popularly called is concerned. A ruthless trade union leader who hasn’t officially garnered any other academic qualification save for the WASSCE O levels with which he retired from NNPC service in 2016 as a clerk. His Deputy Comrade Frank Esanubi has also fared no better as promises he made during his campaign for election have disappeared mysteriously like ashes thrown into a flowing river.

In what is also perceived as an anomaly, the embattled trade union leader currently seats on the board of two respective trade unions. He is currently the President of PENGASAN and is also the 3rd deputy president of the Trade union Congress (TUC). Surely this should represent an anomaly even to the reasoning of the lay man.

Very soon, a Daniel will surely come to judgment and the souls of the oppressed will sing a joyful song as they ready their spirits for a true leader who will inspire them and not conspire to send them to early graves.

– Ibrahim, is a social crusader, political observer and media practitioner

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