Ezekwesili: Nigerian Content Policy Should Meet Global Standards

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A former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, has said that the implementation of local content policy in the oil and gas sector should reflect global best practices, with focus on equal participation, competence and overall interest of the country.

She said the discretionary allocation of oil fields to friends and cronies of political office holders in the past led to the stifling of the growth of the oil and gas sector, pointing that such arbitrary action resulted to mediocrity, incompetence, and under-development of the sector.

In her remarks as the Chairman of the First National Education Summit organised recently in Lagos by the Oil and Gas Trainers Association of Nigeria (OGTAN), with the theme: “Sustaining Local Content Through Quality Education And Training: Prospects and Challenges,” Ezekwesili argued that “the discretionary practice was the harbinger of massive grand corruption in the country and that it necessitated the entrenchment of the licensed offshore system as a way of ending that”.

“I pray that our local content policy will not suffer stifling simply because it’s not anchored on the obvious vision which is that the economic impact of the sector be extended beyond the operators that have connections of one kind or the other, to who know who holds high political office. We cannot on the basis of local content decide to play by local standard. It is harmful to our being. Whether it is in terms of the economic activities within the sector, companies operating should understand that there are skills that we need to develop within the sector; we must not play by local standard. If we play local standard; we are going to permanently index the capacity of our people to local standard.

Today’s world is not a local world; today’s world is a global world,” she explained.
She added that the vision of the local content was not to settle relatives and friends but that it was meant to ensure equal opportunity to compete on the basis of merit.

“There are many sectors of our economy that are still virgins. Your sector is the one that has well gone beyond maturity except that at your maturity you still behave like a child. So, we better not make the mistake of feeling that the world will wait forever for our oil. The world is kissing good bye very soon. We need to find a local content on the ideals of the future of our society,” she added.

In his goodwill message, the Minister Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, harped on the need to deregulate and liberalise the oil and gas sector to enable indigenous entrepreneurs with experience in the industry to participate actively in the exploration activities.

Adamu who was represented at the occasion by the Rector, Yaba College of Technology, Mr. Femi Omokungbe, explained that the local content development was initiated by the federal government to develop local capacity in the oil and gas industry to enable Nigerians take proactive role in the industry.

“It is seemed that the utilisation of the Nigerian human resources, the local content development will ensure that the percentage of the locally produced materials, personneling, goods and services rendered to the industry are increased thereby generating more employment and an economic empowerment,” he said.

Also speaking, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, represented by the Managing Director of the National Engineering and Technical Company Limited (NETCO), Siky Aliyu, charged the Nigerian academia and the oil and gas industry to collaborate in order to help reduce the risks resulting from lack of human capacity in the oil and gas industry.

“Therefore, the need for the Nigerian academia to adjust their system and give credence to research and innovation so as to attract investment to the oil and gas industry cannot be over-emphasised,” Baru added.