Minister of Petroleum, Dizeani Allison Madueke
By Chineme Okafor
Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) has called on the Federal Government regulators in the oil and gas industry to save the Nigerian Content policy from sabotage, alleging that some multinational oil service companies in the country illegally poach and export of Nigerian workers trained by their indigenous rivals.
The association, which forms the platform for all indigenous oil service companies in the country therefore wants the government to treat the matter as urgent national issue.
The group also appealed to the National Assembly to investigate intrigues employed by foreign firms that continuously search for technical gaps to undermine the good intentions of government to engender development in the Nigeria oil industry content.
An official of PETAN, Mr. Chris Onyekwere, who spoke on the issue lamented alleged deliberate plot by the multinational firms to wait until local firms have trained staff before they poach and transfer them work in their operations outside the country.
The Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act 2010 seeks to use the huge petroleum industry budget to create values in the domestic economy through exclusive use of local goods and services where capacity exists.
The law has challenged indigenous companies to build and upgrade capacity of equipment, import technology and train workers to be able to position strongly for in-country execution of jobs. But foreign oil service firms express fears that the law would divert jobs from them.
Since the implementation of the law kicked off, significant milestones in terms of indigenous capacity to execute jobs have been recorded, thus sending signals of fear to huge multinational oil service firms and others that are now accused of fighting to regain lost grounds.
“The Government should also protect the investment of her citizens against economic sabotage. It is in so doing that the real aims and objectives of the Nigeria Content Act will be realized,” the PETAN chief said.
He pointed out that the Nigerian Content programme of the government which is lauded for rapidly building capacity of indigenous companies to deliver on industry jobs is facing a fight back from the big multinational service firms that fear job losses.
While expressing the commitment of Nigerian indigenous service firms to invest in human capacity upgrade and technology development, he warned that efforts should be made to guard the objectives of the law from sabotage.
“It has however been observed that some multi-national companies are strategically making and concluding plans geared towards destabilizing any Nigerian indigenous company which has become a key player and with high competitive edge in the industry,” he said.
Onyekwere who is in the executive committee of PETAN said the poaching of trained workers from indigenous firms was a major sabotage against the Nigerian Content policy by major multinational oil service behemoths.
He said huge multinationals embarked on the staff poaching as a measure to debilitate local upstarts and seal off increasing competition from them.
“There is calculated strategic plan by multinational to fracture the Nigeria Content development effort. It is sad to watch an attempt by services multinationals to destabilize one of the Nigeria leading local companies in the well construction and well intervention services sector of oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
He pointed out that the gains recorded in growing capacity of Nigerian companies to deliver on industry jobs would drain off if government failed to stop unhealthy and calculated poaching of staff to weaken competitors.
He said foreign oil service firms were growing increasingly frightened by the rising capacity of indigenous competitors and have devised various means of undercutting them.
“Who would have imagined the power of quality services and the dividends of the Nigeria Content Act after one year of becoming law?” he asked.
According to him, “the Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCMB), NCD PETAN and National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) cannot watch their efforts being thwarted by some multinationals that still have integrity questions in Nigeria.”
He called on the NCDMB to investigate the matter, adding that the poached workers were to be relocated to work outside Nigeria after being trained by indigenous firms.
“The poached staff has been promised heaven and earth and will be relocated to countries outside Nigeria,” he said.
“It is time for the Nigerian Government to monitor the activities of some of these multi-national companies as it amount to economic sabotage. The survival of local companies is essential to Nigerian security interest. Any attempt to undermine it should be checked and treated as economic sabotage.
“Nigeria Content Act has really come to stay. With the successful enactment of the Nigeria Content Act, some Nigerian companies have started playing major role in the Nigeria Oil Industry, raising rays of hope that the good days will soon be with us.”