The Call of Nigerian Content from Bayelsa

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THE PUBLIC SPHERE By Chido Nwakanma

Slowly but steadily, Nigerian or Local Content is becoming familiar and accepted terminology in the oil and gas sector that drives the Nigerian economy. As the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board (NCDMB) pursues its mandate, it creates opportunities for many more Nigerians to participate in the sector that drives the economic fortunes of the country. It has a herculean task of creating awareness beyond the small band of oil industry players to include entrepreneurs in other sectors.

The primary focus is getting greater involvement of the host communities of oil and gas operations in the states that make up the oil-producing belt of the country. The states are Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Cross River, Abia, Imo, Delta, Edo, and Delta.

Opportunity beckons to Nigerians as individuals, companies, and communities in the evolving narrative around increasing the Nigerian Content of inputs and services in our premier industry, oil and gas. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board is pushing the envelope for even greater participation and inclusion of Nigerians in this critical sector. They have grown Nigerian content from less than 5% in 2010 to 32% in 2020. The goal is to drive it to 70% by 2027.

The Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) of 2010 established the NCDMB. Its six key thrusts include integrating oil and gas producing communities into the oil and gas value chain; maximise the participation of Nigerians in oil and gas activities; and maximise utilisation of Nigerian resources, i.e. workforce, goods, services and assets. Others are to attract investments to the Nigeria oil and gas sector (service provider, equipment suppliers and other investment relevant to oil and gas industry; link oil and gas sector to other sectors of the economy and foster institutional collaboration.

In short, the goal is to “develop the capacity of the local supply chain for effective and efficient service delivery to the oil and gas industry without compromising standards”.

The new Community Content Guideline (CCG) is one of the expected game-changers. It seeks to achieve a key performance indicator that asked the industry to “deploy 30% of business opportunities from operating companies to communities” as articulated in the Petroleum Industry Roadmap President Muhammadu Buhari launched on 27 October 2016.

The NCDMB’s Community Content Guideline will increase “community content” in oil and gas around four pillars of the establishment of Project Office; Employment and Human Capital Development; Procurement of Goods and Services and Funding.

NCDMB now requires that all operators must have a functional Project Office” in the community where they have significant operations”. It applies to projects above $100m that would last for two years and above. They should staff the Project Office with persons capable of taking project management and procurement decisions.

All unskilled jobs will go to indigenes. Indigenes will get 50% of semi-skilled employment and at least 10% of skilled roles”.

“If the host community or communities does not have qualified personnel to take up to 10% of the skilled roles, and object to the filling of the skilled roles from the neighbouring community or communities, then “the firms should convert the 10% slot to additional relevant skill training for the community or communities.”

Firms in the sector must develop human capital from the grassroots. The Human Capital Development interventions will cover scholarships, entrepreneurship and empowerment and training on projects. The platform for such recruitment would be the NOGICJQS. NCDMB promises to sensitise youths in the communities to register therein and leverage the Digital Centres in its Zonal Offices.

We gathered at Habitat Hotel in Choba, Port Harcourt, kilometres from the River Nun and the 17-floor imposing headquarters of the NCDMB in Yenagoa. President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned that tallest building in the South-South and South-East only recently.

Our Port Harcourt gathering next door to the University of Port Harcourt was to tackle the theme Sustaining Nigerian Content Development Amidst COVID-19 pandemic: The role of the media.

Participants were journalists drawn from media platforms in the South-South. Port Harcourt was central. Speakers included the Executive Secretary of NCDM, Simbi Wabote, an engineer now running his second term. He interacted with participants via Zoom from Abuja. Dr Ginah O Ginah, General Manager, Corporate Communications and Zonal Coordination, provided insights into Community Content Guideline, the latest initiative in deepening Nigerian Content. Engr Abayomi Bamidele briefed us on the Mid-Term Review of the Nigerian Content 10-Year Roadmap. At the same time, Prof Diri Teilanyo of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Federal University, Otuoke spoke on Improving Writing Competencies to Meet Evolving Media Trends. Chido Nwakanma spoke to the keynote of The Role of the Media in Achieving Nigerian Content 10-Year Strategic Roadmap.

I recommended storifying the narratives relying on the Narrative Paradigm theory, offering news you can use and deploying Solutions Journalism.

Here are some storylines from that event that summarise the issues from the NCDMB angle: Local content ensured the continued operation of the oil and gas sector during Covid19 – NCDMB Exec Sec; NLNG Train 7 to create 40, 000 jobs with strong local content; $50m R&D Fund to deepen local content; NCDMB support critical to the establishment of Nigeria’s first modular refinery –Board Executive Secretary; Local Content Fund increased from $200m to $350m.

The media will play a significant role in ensuring that everyone delivers on this significant national plan to provide greater local participation. It should be asking for specific key deliverables the Act requires from the operators. They include a Quarterly Procurement Report on local content for contracts exceeding USD 1m; Nigerian arm of an international firm must own 50% of equipment; Annual report on programmes for technology transfer and Nigerian Content Performance Report -60 days into each new year.

In return, the media should seek a place on the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum that shall provide a platform for information sharing and collaboration in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. The Act says the Consultative Forum should have representation from stakeholders in various areas. It lists fabrication; engineering; finance, legal and insurance; shipping and logistics; materials and manufacturing; information and communication technology; petroleum technology association of Nigeria; education and training; and any other professional services nominated by the Board. Media? I submit that the Nigerian Guild of Editors stands in the best stead to pursue this for the industry as membership cuts across all media types.