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Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
Experts in the Nigerian oil industry say the Nigeria Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), the country’s agency that sets guidelines and minimum content levels for project related activities for Nigerian companies across the oil and gas value-chain, is yet to maximise its potentials more than a decade after its establishment.
According to participants at the second zonal conference/ annual seminar and induction of the Nigerian Association of Technologists in Engineering (NATE) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil hub, the NCDMB had only scratched the surface in getting uptick in the Nigerian minimum content levels for project-related activities in the oil sector.
NCDMB, established by the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act, is vested with the mandate to make procedures that will guide, monitor, coordinate and implement the provisions of the NOGICD Act. Its key functions include, among others: to review, assess and approve Nigerian Content plans developed by oil industry operators; to set guidelines and minimum content levels for project related activities across the oil and gas value chain.
In its H2 2020 report, the local content implementation regulator conceded that it was yet to inch things up for Nigerian companies. “As a Board and, indeed, a country, we are not yet where we want to be. But we are clear where we want to be by 2027 based on our 10-year strategic road map. Our target is to ramp up to 70 percent, from less than 5 percent Nigerian content level, back in 2010,” it said.
The Local Content Act in Section 41(2) states that “International or multinational companies working through their Nigerian subsidiaries shall demonstrate that a minimum of 50% of the equipment deployed for execution of work is owned by the Nigerian subsidiaries.”
Vincent Nnadi, the former executive general manager at Total E&P Nigeria (TEPNG), says, the NCDMB has yet to maximize its potentials since 2010. “What the Board has done is to train limited number of people, thereby making only little success stories. For example, the Board has not fully utilized their Nigerian Content Investment Fund (NCIF),” he said.
The NCIF is $200 million basket, being managed by the Bank of Industry (BoI) to meet the funding needs of indigenous manufacturers of components, service providers and other ancillary services players in the over $20 billion oil and gas industry. It is meant to provide loan types such as: manufacturing, asset acquisition, contract finance, community contractor finance scheme and loan refinancing.
The loan sums range from N10 million for manufacturing and asset acquisition to N20 million for community contractor finance scheme. Applicants have up to five years to repay the loans; with accessory period of 45 working days from the fulfilment of all terms and conditions as well as contract confirmation from an international oil company.
Nnadi and other petroleum engineers maintained that NCDMB should properly utilize the Nigerian Content Investment Fund to train more local engineers to meet up the challenges in the oil sector.
“The Local Content Development Monitoring Board over the years required firms to use domestically supplied services in the locality where they operate,” Nnadi said.
Also, the chairman of NATE zonal induction, he lamented the poor quality of graduating students from the various universities, saying that countries have moved from seeking for transfer of technology to copying technology to improve the life of their people.
“When you see all heavy technical projects being designed abroad, you will agree that the practice of engineering in Nigeria needs repositioning. When you see Chinese and Lebanese roaming all construction sites in the country you will agree that your subject matter needs to be addressed,” the former TEPNG general manager stated.
Dominic Udoatan, the vice president of the South-South chapter of NATE stated that “repositioning engineering practice in Nigeria for technological advancement and stability comes at a time when Nigeria is in dire need of restructuring and repositioning in almost all the sector of the economy.”
Analysts believe that Nigeria has yet to muster enough political will to create local manpower base that can lead to getting its engineers service and maintain its refineries to remove the capital flight, thereby boost the local economy.
Udoatan said, not following the due principle and practice of engineering code can lead a nation to embracing quacks with the attendant engineering challenges. He said government at all levels must ensure competent and credible professionals during planning and implementation of policies and programs.
For Jasper Jumbo, a professor and social crusader, Rivers State, being the hub of Nigeria’s oil industry, should earmark a “technology development fund” to help grow local skills, transfer man-power development and create job opportunities in the area of engineering.
He also called on the international oil companies (IOCs) and the Rivers government to collaborate to solve the menacing soot in the state. He noted that until there is a deliberate effort by all to end the era of soot in the State, we might continue to suffer from the air disaster.
The Vice-Chancellor of the Rivers State University (RSU), Nlerum Okogbule, a professor of law, stated that this is an era of technological advancement, and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind; noting that transfer of technology is very challenging but technologists should look inward to solving our peculiar challenges. He expressed the willingness of the university to adequately support those in engineering sector to move the country to a higher pedestal.